ATP Blog #46
When we think of Jesus Christ, we think of a teacher, not a student. Even when He was twelve years old, He taught the scholars in Jerusalem a thing or two from God’s Word. Yet, everyone must learn from someone to gain the knowledge they have. Jesus is God, but He put aside His divinity (or suppressed it) to live as a human, relying on the Holy Spirit just as much as we should or could be.
Character: Confidence and Humility Relying on the Holy Spirit of God for teaching (which can / should do as well!) results in both character traits of confidence and humility. Humility comes as we acknowledge that we do not know everything. Even Jesus, despite being God in nature, stated clearly that He knew only what He was told by the Father, through the Holy Spirit. God is all-knowing. Jesus had to rely on the all-knowing God to have the wisdom needed for the ministry God had given Him to do (the example of making disciples, the suffering, the dying, and the resurrection). Confidence comes as we acknowledge that God does know everything, and is always right. So, if you are certain that the information came from God, then you can be confident that it is true. Christ demonstrated these two character traits in an interesting way at the beginning of our passage for today: once His naturally born brothers had left, Jesus snuck down to Jerusalem for the party. Remember, He had told them that it wasn’t time yet to be bold before the religious leaders of Israel, which would lead to His death. Jesus demonstrated humility by observing the tradition set by God to the nation under Moses, and by doing so quietly, without drawing attention to Himself. Jesus demonstrated confidence, trusting God to care for Him, even when He went to teach in the Temple (v14) at the mid-way point of the party (Parties or feasts tended to be about seven days long in Israel).
Focus: God’s Will and True Doctrine It is interesting that ‘they’ would ask, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” Jesus would have studied under His parents, and the local rabbi, but had not studied in the popular ‘Bible School’ of Jerusalem (most famous teacher being Gamaliel, teacher of Paul of Tarsus in Acts). They were saying that Jesus knew more of the Bible than He should, but had not learned the teachings of the Priests and Pharisees (that is, the extra commentary and rules they had developed over time to supplement the laws God gave to Israel through Moses). Throughout Jesus’ teaching, especially in Matthew chapters five through seven, He helps the people better understand the intent of the law, rather than some of the legalistic or strict rules that did not come from God. Jesus carefully explains two important concepts here: the doctrine (spiritual concepts) that He was teaching did not come from His own creativity, nor did it come from the teaching of other men, but rather that it came directly from God, because of His reliance on the Holy Spirit as His teacher. Secondly, the authority of His teaching is directly related to His determination to accomplish the will of God. “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. 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.” So, here we see that the doctrine (teaching of God) is directly related to the will of God, such that you can test and know what is true, based on who gets the glory.
Righteous Motives and Righteous Doctrine Due to His popularity with the masses, the leaders could not openly talk of their desire to kill Jesus. In fact, Jesus brought up the topic, and they denied it. It seems that they were opposing when Jesus healed people on the Sabbath (which is no where in the laws of Moses, but was in more recent Pharisaical teachings), so Jesus challenged them on the practice of circumcising people on the Sabbath (Isn’t that the same thing? Healing a person on the Sabbath?). The teachings you follow must be (1) out of the right motives (love for God), (2) out of a right understanding of doctrine (clear understanding of God’s will). Jesus Christ ends the discussion with this statement: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” Appearance has to do with personal glory, whereas righteousness has to do with God’s glory. So, who is your primary teacher, or source of necessary information (doctrine)?