John 7:14-24, NIV

14 Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the
temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews were amazed
and asked, "How did this man get such learning without having
studied?" 16 Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It
comes from him who sent me. 17 If anyone chooses to do God's
will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or
whether I speak on my own. . . .

19 "Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the
law. Why are you trying to kill me?" 20 "You are demon-possessed,"
the crowd answered. "Who is trying to kill you?" 21 Jesus said to
them, "I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. . . . 23 Now if
a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses
may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the
whole man on the Sabbath?"

June 9, 2011
As I read and re-read this chapter I wonder why John wrote so much,
52 verses, on this one event? I prefer clear and concise, but this chapter
sounds like it rambles on and on. However I do see one common thread -
knowing and not knowing. Everyone seems to think they know something.
Jesus doesn't agree.

First, a big question. How does Jesus know so much without ever having
been schooled? How can he be an authority on God and never have taken
courses from reputable teachers of the law? Jesus had a quick answer
for that question. What he teaches he did not learn on his own; it was
given to him from the One who sent him. Jesus added that anyone who
chooses to do God's will, that person will know whether teaching is
from God.

These are strong words. Judging from the confrontational context, they
sound sharp and stinging. Everyone who chooses to do the will of God
will recognize the truth. Otherwise you cannot know and your opinions
count for nothing!

Next comes the reference to Moses and the law. Jesus said that not one
of them kept the law. Not one of them knew the heart of the law and lived
accordingly! More stinging words, particularly for the Pharisees who
prided themselves for how well they obeyed every word of it.

This brings Jesus to an issue at hand--his healing on the Sabbath when
no work was allowed. In typical fashion, Jesus argued his case and made
his opponents appear silly. Which was good reason for these guardians
of the faith to want to be rid of this crowd-pleaser who twisted the ancient
Scriptures to make them say whatever he wanted them to say. It's easy
to feel the ridicule and understand their anger. And anger would block
any further "knowing" on their part.

                                                                                 More journal entries

July 10, 1983
Jesus waited until the middle of the holiday celebration, till everyone
was in the traditional swing of things. Then he began doing what rabbis
do--teaching. This is a leadership position; he assumed it without being
asked to do so.

Wouldn't it be great to have a person of wisdom in one's midst who
could answer everyone's questions! But then again, it's not good to be
given answers. Better to have the experience and the hard work of
searching out the answers for ourselves.

July 12, 1983
If anyone wants to do God's will, he or she will know how to distinguish
truth from falsehood. Anyone desiring to know God, to them God will give 
the spirit of discernment. If you cannot understand, your heart is not right
toward God. (When
 we really listen to what Jesus is saying, we must
acknowledge we humans see things differently.) The response to these
insulting words of Jesus is anger, frustration, maybe even helplessness
because there were no good alternatives. Anger closes the conversation.

Jesus had said in the previous chapter, no one can come to me unless
drawn by the Father. So how and where can one begin the journey
toward knowing God? I feel like I have wrestled with that question for
many years. Wanting to experience more of God yet seemingly being
denied what my soul thirsted for. For me the journey appeared to start
with repentance, sorrow and mourning sufficient to make me want
God more than anything else. Begging God didn't seem to do it.

Other people can help. Planting hope is certainly important, and the
imagery of eliminating excess baggage. Also becoming wholehearted in
one's desires. The one who wants to do God's will, desires God above
all else. That means looking and moving in the same direction, instead
of being pulled in many different directions. Keeping God up front and
always before me.

If Jesus said his teaching was not his but God's how much more
should we recognize the Source of our light.

June 10, 2011
This chapter is also about a constant theme in all 4 Gospels--judging
Jesus. Was he a good man or a deceiver? Did he speak for God or for
the devil? God-possessed or demon-possessed? Should we listen to
him or turn a deaf ear? Is he worth the effort to silence him or should
we just let him fizzle out on his own?

Every generation since has asked these same questions. Judging Jesus
is a life or death decision. Jesus spoke only in black and white. You either
lived in the light or in the darkness. There were no gray areas in between.
Obviously, God's perspective is different than our perspective on things.

July 13, 1983
Did Jesus speak on his own, or with the authority or God? We ask the
same question of our current "ministers of the gospel". The problem
is that many who start out with good motives and with God at the center
of their endeavor, get distracted by fame and success. Then God gets
pushed to the periphery, replaced by sexual pursuits, the love of money,
power and the like. Their fall is great and so is the loss to that person
and to the people of God in general. Solomon in the Old Testament
was such a man.

It's a major step in Christian maturity to lose the need to be liked and
affirmed by our fellowmen. When the source of our confidence and
assurance comes from God instead of other humans, we become whole
instead of fragmented. We serve one master, not many. We are at
home with God, not off in some far country struggling to find our place in
the scheme of things.

I don't have the exact quote but William Barclay said something like this:
"Seeing things from God's eyes is wisdom."

June 6, 2011
What John is describing is not a wonderful holiday season, but an event
filled with much strife and contention. And what we see experienced on
the streets of Jerusalem that year is likely taken home and argued within
the family circle as well. While some people may enjoy disagreement
and debate, I do not. I'm for peace and harmony.

July 16, 1982
The crowd and the Sabbath. Jesus is pointing out their inconsistencies on
matters of faith. They lacked flexibility and openness to God. Some in the
crowd thought Jesus was "pulling the wool over their eyes" and they had
their defenses up. They were bound to be defiant and protect their religion.
No wonder Jesus is on record saying it is easier for sinners to enter
God's kingdom than the righteous! How careful we in the Church must be.
These passages are certainly written for us. Wisdom reminds us--Pray
to see the situation from God's eyes.

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