Humble Yourself Under The Mighty Hand of God

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Joh 7:14 Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught.
 15 And the Jews marveled, saying, "How does this Man know letters, having never studied?"
 16 Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.
 17 "If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.
 18 "He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.

The middle of what feast? The feast of Tabernacles. This was a biggie! It was the most joyous of all Jewish feasts!  The whole city was turned into a kind of camping jamboree, as people put up tents and commemorated God's goodness to them while they lived in the wilderness. The feast was held in late summer early fall and also served as a time of thanksgiving for the harvest.

It was a required pilgrimage for all Jewish males, and this kind of put Jesus in a bind. If we look at the beginning of this chapter we see that Jesus had been spending time away from Jerusalem because the Jews were seeking to kill him.

His family urged Him to attend and use the feast as a stage for more miracles. Jesus wisely refused to go to the feast with his family because it would've turned into a circus, yet as One who adhered to the Law perfectly He had to go, and so He went separately, secretly, blending in with the crowd.

There was much talk about Jesus and it seemed to center around truth. Some felt that He spoke the truth and others regarded Him as a deceiver. The debate was carried on in private conversations because the word was out that the ruling Jews wanted to kill Him, therefore it would not be good to be caught speaking well of Him.

It's at this point that we pick up our text. About the middle of the feast, Jesus shows up at the Temple and starts teaching. Good move, there is a whole new audience of men who are in town for the feast. For whatever reason He teaches and is not recognized for a while. Finally someone says, “Hey, isn't this the guy the rulers want to kill?  And even after they recognize Him, in His Sovereignty, they are not allowed to touch Him, because “His hour had not yet come.” (v30)

There is a spiritual principle at work here that might be helpful to you this morning. Jesus deals with us in secret. By that I mean that He deals with each of us on an individual basis. I cannot witness His dealings in your heart and you can't witness His dealings in my heart.

Jesus deals with us through the Holy Spirit working in His Word. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”

He convinces us of our sins as the Law is preached and brings us to the cross, where we humbly ask for His forgiveness. Then He convinces us of our forgiveness as the Gospel is preached and He takes us to the empty tomb where we receive the assurance of His forgiveness.

C.S. Lewis called Jesus the “transcendental Interferer.” Whereas Lewis wanted some area however small of which he could say to other beings, “This is my business and mine only,”  Jesus went through all the barb wire and no admittance signs that Lewis put up. And in His relentless mercy, He set Lewis free.

Are you hung up on the cross? Then go to the empty tomb with Mary Magdalene, John and Peter and receive the assurance of your forgiveness. Then having allowed Jesus to do that secret work in your heart, you will be ready to make Him known through the testimony of your lips and your changed life.

The next thing we can learn from this passage is, “if you're looking for Jesus , you'll find Him hanging around His Word. You'll find Him in the pages of Scripture. You'll find Him in the churches where the Word of God is taught and acted on as the inerrant Word of God..

Notice in v15 that the Jews marveled at His teaching. “How does this man know letters having never studied?” He knows letters because they are His letters. He wrote the Book! This comment by the Jews brings to mind an incident with Peter and John after Jesus had ascended to heaven.

At the time of their arrest, Peter “boldly proclaimed the Word of God. The council perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men and they marveled, and they realized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)

You don't have to be a learned scholar to understand this Book. One of my favorite gospel singers is the late Reverend Dan Smith, and he used to sing a song that  said, “I've never been to seminary, but I've been to Calvary.”  What did he mean by that? He meant that he had died to self and surrendered to Jesus!

It is in our surrender and yieldedness that God promises biblical wisdom. Ps 119:98 says, “ You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies. Submit to the authority of Jesus and His Word and you will not be intimidated by the knowledge and wisdom of the world.

Anyone who has submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ will have more knowledge that matters than the brightest seminarian who has not surrendered His will and His life to Jesus.

Oh, they may blow you away with large words and theological arguments, but with Jesus, you are guaranteed to pass the final exam!

V16 - Now, how does Jesus respond to the Jews marveling at His teaching? His says this isn't My teaching. It is the teaching of the One who sent Me

V17 - If you want to see if My teaching is legit, then choose to do it and see what happens.  Choosing to do God's will reflects an entire change of mindset. It's called repentance. It says, “I'm not going to do things my way or the world's way anymore.”

V18 - Self-guided behavior is nothing but speaking for ourselves, and if we view ourselves as being successful in guiding our lives by our own moral standards apart from God. We are ultimately seeking our own glory. And when all is said and done a dime and our own glory will buy us a couple of minutes on a parking meter!

There was a letter to the editor a couple of weeks ago from a registered nurse who claimed that the women she had counseled for abortion had no problems with post abortion syndrome. You see she held this view that those who had abortions were quite successful in running their lives in a morality apart from God.

The reality of such a mindset is self-glory, and it just won't stand on the Last Day. I pray that these women will one day see this truth and come to the glory of the cross and the empty tomb!

On the other hand Jesus says here,  if we, motivated solely by His love for us,  seek to live according to God's Word, doing His will, and live our lives according to His guidelines, then we are no longer seeking our own glory but His.  This is the one who is judged as true, and this is the one who is judged as righteous.

The one major thing we should get out of this text today is that in order to understand God's Word and experience His will, we must submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ.

Augustine commented on verse 17 by saying, “What is, “if any man be willing to do His will?” “It is the same thing as to believe”  When we believe, trust and obedience will follow, and then understanding. Because understanding is one of the rewards of faith.  Prov. 1:7 says, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” The fear of the Lord is the bowing of the knee to Jesus.

I read the Bible for years, but it never made any sense to me until I bowed my knee to Jesus as my Lord and Savior. That's the key!

Do not read the Bible to understand, read the Bible to submit. Submit first to Jesus then His Word, understanding will follow.

The Jews could have their studies and letters, without submission to the rule of Jesus in their lives, they would never have understanding.  No one understood this more than the Apostle Paul. He was highly educated as a Jew and a Pharisee, but he told the Phillipians, “I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord!” (Phil 3:8)
Bible study, at any level. Seminary, small group, or individual without submission is simply study. It's the gathering of knowledge that is dangerous because it “puffs up.” Many a small group Bible Study falls victim to this trap.

Remember. The goal is not knowledge, it is understanding, and understanding comes by submission. Let submission be your emphasis in studying God's precious Word and you will be amazed at the results. Submitting to Jesus moves our knowledge from head to heart, and God's Word will have the impact in your life that He desires.

Bill Gothard tells the story of a young boy walking from his mission home down a jungle trail. His mother waving goodbye to him suddenly shouted, “Stop! The boy immediately froze. As his mother rushed toward him and pulled him backward, he saw an enormous boa constrictor in an overhanging branch.

Had he taken one more step the snake likely would have dropped down and done the boy great harm.  But because the boy obeyed before he fully understood, he was spared great harm.

Just because we don't understand God's reasons for His commands does not give us an excuse to disobey His commands. Light received from God AND ACTED upon brings more light. However light neglected or rejected brings darkness and confusion.

God trained the nation of Israel, the OT church to think in this sequence: Fear God (believe God) Trust God, obey God, and then understand. He does the same for us today yet our western mind set seeks to first understand before we act, and we wonder why the boas are dropping from the trees and squeezing the spiritual life right out of us.

Trying to understand the ways of an infinitely wise God as a prerequisite to obedience will not only hinder us from hearing His voice, but will also produce frustration in our lives. The Good News is God never wearies of trying to speak to us.  He never wearies of calling us to trust and obedience in and to His Word.

Oh the blessings we miss because we desire to understand before we act! How much time did Peter spend on studying the theological and physical implications of Jesus command to “come” to Him on the water? That is the attitude we need.

Let us here, today, acknowledge God's absolute trustworthiness in our lives. Start by receiving His promise of absolute pardon for your sins through faith in His Son. Then properly cleansed and set free from your shackles of sin and guilt go forth with purpose to obey Him in faith, even when you don't necessarily understand His ways.

And now may the peace of God which passes all understanding come to your heart today as you purpose to submit to the lordship of Jesus in your life. Amen.