In a world of degrees, hierarchy and recognition where success and influence are often based on what you know, Jesus comes at us again with a counter-cultural message.
“My teaching is not mine, but him who sent me.” Verse 16
People are the same as they have always been. The scenery may have changed, our ways may be more “advanced” but the way we see the world and operate is the same. The Jews here in chapter 7 are going on again about Jesus’ credentials. All they can see is the surface, that he is from Galilee, that they don’t know who his teacher is. They are asking, who is this guy that we should listen to him?
What is so intriguing to me is that these are questions that many Christians still ask today. We walk into circumstances skeptical and looking for a reason to give someone the time of day. What school did he/she study at? Who has affirmed this ministry? Why should I be listening to this person? Most of us wouldn’t think twice about asking these questions, actually we would consider ourselves wise for vetting people and our litmus test is what and who they know.
The other day I was talking with a friend of mine who has been called to do a unique ministry with her family. She speaks various places and has been asked for a title and bio. We laughed about how her title is Child of God and her bio is Called by God. Unfortunately that isn’t what people today are looking for, and it wasn’t what they were looking for in Jesus’ day either.
Pride stops belief. We see it in John 7 so clearly as those who don’t dig into who Jesus is because they have already decided based on very limited knowledge that he isn’t worth listening to. Because of this, they missed the Messiah standing right in their midst.
There are two things in this passage I want us to see and search our hearts as we look at them today.
First, whose system are we using as we encounter others? God’s ways and the world’s ways are opposites (Isaiah 55:8-9). We see in Samuel that man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). We see in Isaiah that Jesus had nothing physically to attract man to him (Isaiah 53). Jesus didn’t grow up in the epicenter of culture, it was said multiple times about Nazareth and Galilee that nothing good can come from there. His earthly father was a humble carpenter, he hung out with uneducated fisherman and women with sketchy pasts. Many of the Jewish people missed Jesus because their eyesight was ruled by man’s agenda, not God’s. Whose agenda rules our sight, and what are we missing because of it?
Second, whose glory and authority are you living out your calling, ministry and life based on? Jesus, the Son of God, the Word made flesh, the one through whom all things were made and without him nothing was made that has been made, did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped but instead,
“… emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:6-8
If we are looking to find our identity and credentials in anything but the calling, equipping and authority of God the Father we are not following Christ’s example and will come up empty. Living for the opinions and within the framework of men will leave us grasping for more and insecure. Jesus is God and he, on purpose, set an example of giving God has his one credential, his one reference.
“The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory, but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true and in him there is no falsehood.” John 7: 18
Today we need eyes to see others, and ourselves, through God’s eyes using his authority as the litmus test.
Jesus didn’t take the glory, even though he had every right to. What that tells me is I better step away from the glory as well. When God calls us and equips us to accomplish a task and purpose whether it is parenting, our work, teaching, mentoring or doing the dishes we better name on whose authority we are able to do what we are called to do and point to him to get all the glory and attention.
And when we look at others we need to take Jesus’ advice in verse 24 of chapter 7;
“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement”
- Where in your life have you wavered in your calling because you don’t feel qualified based on the world’s standards? Will you ask God to give you his perspective on who you are and what he has called and equipped you to do?
- What is your reaction to Jesus’ counter-cultural message of giving God as his credential and taking no glory for himself? How can you apply this to your life?
- How does this passage change your view of Christ, yourself and others?
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Steph is a mom to four girls and wife to one very supportive man. She is the Executive Director of Stories Foundation and is passionate about fighting for freedom both spiritual and physical. Her days consist of car pooling, ministry, parenting and lots of coffee.