II. A Call to Godly Submission (vv. 14-24)
a. Reasons to Obey (vv. 16-18)
As the feast progressed Jesus remained “under the radar.” However, around the middle of the feast Jesus went up to the most public place and began to openly teach. As He taught “the Jews” were amazed that He was able to teach the Scriptures so clearly without any formal training. “The Jews” were all experts and had been trained to teach, but Jesus was able to teach better than them. They Jews had to have been jealous, and what we see is that they tried to discredit Jesus. Their response to Jesus’ teaching was that He never studied. This is the equivalent of saying that He had never been to seminary. During this time that was a pretty big accusation. New ideas were not usually welcomed, and only those who had studied from another respected teacher could gain any respect. Essentially, “the Jews” were saying the even though Jesus’ teaching was powerful it should be ignored because it was just the “opinion of a self-styled intruder who had no true connection to the established and authoritative fraternity of teachers.” Jesus answered this objection directly, and in the process calls all people to submit to the Father’s will and accept His teaching.
Jesus answered “the Jews” and said, “My teaching is not mine, but His who sent me.” Do you see Jesus’ point? “The Jews” tried to discredit Jesus teaching by saying that He had not studied under any of the other teachers, thus His teaching was His own. Jesus’ response is that His teaching does not come from a mere human teacher, but rather it comes from God the Father. He then goes on to say that “if anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.” “His readers had raised the question of his competence as a teacher. He raises the question of the competence as listeners.” By doing so, Jesus challenges His listeners to submit themselves to the will of God. If they would have done so then they would have known that Jesus’ teaching was true, and that He was the Messiah. Here we learn an important principle that remains true today. As we are seeking to find the truth, and we want to know what to do with our lives the litmus test must be, is it consistent with the will of God? If something is consistent with the will of God, which has been revealed in the Bible, then we can be sure that it is true. Furthermore, in order to believe in Jesus we must be willing to submit to God. Jesus makes it clear that unless we are willing to submit to what God’s word says then we can never truly believe in Him. This is the same principle that we find in James 1:22-25 (ironically written by one of Jesus’ brothers):
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
In verse 18 we see that even Jesus submitted to the will of God by seeking the glory of the Father. By doing this Jesus proved that he was not lying because if something is consistent with the will of God then it is true. He also proved that His message was authoritative because it was from God. Here we have all the more reason to believe in Jesus. In addition to dealing with this accusation Jesus also deals with another accusation in verses 19-24.
b. Response to further Accusations (vv. 19-24)
It seems rather strange for Jesus to pick up on the topic of Moses and the law, however Jesus is dealing with accusations that had been previously brought up by “the Jews” in an effort to discredit His message. Remember, in chapter 5 Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. This brought about great persecution, and the religious leaders were trying to have Jesus killed. Here Jesus is dealing with the accusation that he broke the Law by healing on the Sabbath. Many of the people who had traveled to Jerusalem would not have known about this incident; however “the Jews” would have known exactly what Jesus was talking about. His point is this, the religious leaders has misinterpreted the Sabbath. As Jesus shows with the example of circumcision, the Sabbath was never meant to be a legalistic ritual whereby people were not allowed to exert any energy at all. The Sabbath was meant to be a day of rest that provided the people of God with the opportunity to be thankful to God. However, “the Jews” valued outward appearances much more than spiritual significance. This is why Jesus commanded the people “not to judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” In this response we see an important principle at work. That is we must put aside the sinful inclinations of our hearts, and judge Jesus according a righteous standard. Or, as Jesus previously put it, we must judge the claims of Jesus according to the will of God. If we do this then it will be clear that Jesus’ teaching is authoritative.