“Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 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?” John 7.14-20
Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent (the 40 days and 6 Sundays leading up to Easter). It’s a day we remember to die to ourselves and to live for Christ. In this passage we see one man who is living for God (Jesus) and many more (disciples and Jewish leaders) who are living for themselves.
In this passage, Jesus arrives in the Temple courts for the festival. He does not reveal himself until about half way through the celebration as he had arrived in secret (which must have been a nice break for him from all the paparazzi.) Jesus appears in the temple courts and begins to do what he does — he teaches.
As he was teaching the people were “amazed” at what he taught and asked themselves, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?” To which Jesus replies, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me.” Now let’s pause here for a moment to consider what Jesus is saying — he’s preaching not his own sermons but God’s! He’s not presenting anything new but what his Father has given him since the beginning of time.
Jesus continues by saying “anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teachings comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” Jesus was not speaking for his own benefit or personal gain but he “seeks the glory of the one who sent him.” Jesus then rebukes them for having received the law of Moses but not following it (a major slap in the face to any Jew listening). The crowd helps make his point by calling Jesus “demon possessed” and asks “who is trying to kill you?”
So much is going on here — Jesus comes late to the party then begins to teach. In addition, as a part of his teaching, he rebukes the Jews and reminds them his teaching is from God. If they want to please God, says Jesus, they will seek God’s glory and not their own.
Which brings me back to Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, and the whole point of this liturgical season — to please, seek and love the Lord. For when it all boils down to it Lent it is about the greatest and the first commandment — “Love the Lord your God with all your hearts, soul and might and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
Nothing new stands before God or is written in books or told in stories. Everything produced can be for the glory of God or for personal, selfish, evil gain. During this start of the season of Lent, why not commit yourself to living for God? Seek him with your life. Develop holy habits of prayer, allow him to have your heart, soul, finances, resources and your time. As Jesus said, “Choose to do the will of God.”
“O Lord God, this Lenten season I proclaim you as Master, I glorify you as Lord. I praise you as the one who lives inside of me and who wins the victory! You are winning the battle over sin and selfishness. You are being made famous in my life! Come now, Holy Spirit, complete your work in me. Bring about holiness and complete sanctification, that I might be the person who brings you glory and magnifies your name. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen