John – “But Who Do You Say That I Am?” – John 7:14-24

I hate religion! I hate it if someone says, “Oh, you’re a religious person!”! I do not practice a religion and I am definitely not a religious person! What exactly do I mean by these statements? If you are a true believer in Jesus Christ then you know exactly what I am talking about here. True believers in Jesus Christ do not practice a religion and we are not religious people. What we have is a relationship with Him like a child has with a parent. We do things to please Him again not unlike a child tries to please his parents. That is what true belief in Jesus Christ is…a relationship. You either have it or you don’t and there is no middle ground!

86% of the world is religious. Religion is man’s attempt to please God. Religion is doing certain things during certain times of the day and certain times of the year all in a futile attempt to please God. It is a system of a series of rituals rather than a meaningful one on one relationship with the Lord. Here’s another thing that might surprise you…God hates religion! Whether you want to believe this or not, there is only one religion in the world…Judaism. It is the only one that God instituted for His people. All the rest are man-made! True Christianity is not a religion. Like I said it is a relationship. I’m sorry but if you’re a Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Lutheran or any of the other Christian sects, you are basically practicing a man-made religion! These religions, except possibly Baptist, believe you have to work for your salvation. True Christianity believes that work is already done and all you have to do is believe it and accept it!

We began Chapter 7 in the last post looking at groups of people who were forming their own opinions of who Jesus was. Jesus had secretly gone to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, one of the feasts that required mandatory attendance, and now the people had located Him and, in this passage that we are going to look at in this post, He begins to teach the people. Let’s get started and as always, the text link for the entire chapter and audio is included so you can follow along. Let’s prepare our hearts to hear God’s Word by going to Him in prayer…

Father,

Thank You again for this time in Your Word. As we look at the difference between religion and having a meaningful relationship with Your Son Jesus, may our hearts and minds be open to hear what You have to say. Speak Lord for Your servants are listening. In the name of Jesus we pray…Amen!

John 7

Let’s look at the passage that we will be studying in this post…

(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 wills 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. (19) Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” (20) The people answered and said, “You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill You?” (21) Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel. (22) Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. (23) If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? (24) Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” … John 7:14-24 NKJV

Now let’s look at this passage a bit more closely. …

vv 14-16 – (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.

Jesus is in Jerusalem for The Feast Of Tabernacles, one of the three mandatory attendance feasts. The Feast of the Tabernacles celebrated when the Hebrews were in the wilderness for 40 years and dwelt in makeshift tents or booths and how God provided for them. For one week out of the year, they would re-enact this, so to speak, by putting up lean-to’s and tents. They would go about their business during the day but at night, they would camp out under the stars.

The first thing you notice about this passage is that when Jesus gets to Jerusalem, He doesn’t do it with fanfare. He doesn’t heal people. He doesn’t go there proclaiming Himself a king. What He does is He goes to the temple and teach the people. It is the Greek word didaskō which means to teach or instruct. 36 times in the Gospels, Jesus is mentioned teaching people and Jesus is called Teacher, the Greek word didaskalos, 47 times. Jesus was majorly into doctrine and teaching people. Doctrine should also be important to us as well if we truly follow Christ. If you don’t think that doctrine is important, this is what God thinks about it…

(6) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. … Hosea 4:6 NKJV

This is the problem with the Church in America today. The Church no longer wants to hear the truth. They want a show. They want to feel good about themselves. Want to know why America is steeped in paganism, idolatry, immorality and growing persecution against Christians? Because the Church in America allows it instead of doing what God commands us to do in His Word!

Verse 15 sounds like a compliment when in fact it really was derogatory. Their statement wasn’t…”How can He?”. Their statement was…”How dare He!”. The word for letters is the Greek word gramma or grammata. It is where we get the word grammar from. In this case it means the Scriptures, rabbinical teachings basically The Old Testament writings. They took offense that Jesus was teaching people having never studied under their rabbis. I’m sure a lot of people who read my blog posts wonder how I can conduct a written Bible study when I’ve never been to a seminary or any kind of religious course. First of all, these are not my thoughts or opinions. Before I put together these Bible study posts, I read the passages very carefully over and over again. I read several commentaries on those passages and take bits and pieces from them. I also listen to messages by pastors on those passages and again take bits and pieces from them. Second, and probably most importantly though, as I am reading and putting these together, the Lord will put certain things on my heart to add to these posts and I always back up my writings with God’s Word because that speaks louder than I ever could! It doesn’t matter how old you are or how smart you are. Anyone can teach the word of God because the more you read it, the more God opens up to you. There is no such thing as reading The Bible too many times or reading it enough. Some of the examples of what I am talking about are these first from Jeremiah when God is recruiting Him…

(4) Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: (5) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” (6) Then said I: “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” (7) But the LORD said to me: “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. (8) Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,” says the LORD. (9) Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. … Jeremiah 1:4-9 NKJV

In the New Testament, Paul says to Timothy…

(6) If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. (7) But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. (8) For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. (9) This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. (10) For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. (11) These things command and teach. (12) Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (13) Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. (14) Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. (15) Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. (16) Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. … 1 Timothy 4:6-16 NKJV

The world is often amazed and will take offense to anyone who can teach and preach the Word of God having absolutely no real religious training.

In verse 16, Jesus tells the people, My doctrine is not Mine but His who sent Me. Now here with this statement, you could make a strong argument that God and Jesus are not one in the same. Why didn’t Jesus say “My doctrine and the One who sent Me” or just “My doctrine”? Simply put, Jesus was humbly submitting Himself to God the Father. He was telling the people that these words were not taught but through divine revelation. God had promised a prophet and that He would put His words in His mouth. In Deuteronomy, Moses said to the people…

(15) “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, … Deuteronomy 18:15 NKJV

and also again in the same passage, God tells Moses…

(18) I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. … Deuteronomy 18:18 NKJV

When Jesus spoke these words to the people at the feast, they should have instantly flashed back to these verses in Deuteronomy and what Moses had told them if they truly knew the Scriptures. In reality, it was the people and not Christ who were scripturally illiterate!  Moving now to verse 17…

vv 17-18 –  (17) 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. (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.

Jesus’s words here are proof again that if one is willing to truly seek God with their heart, soul, and mind that they will know whether or not the doctrine being told to them is truly from God or just the person’s because God will reveal that to them by revelation through His Word. It’s called researching the Scriptures something that these people obviously didn’t do. The same can be said today of the Church. In one of my favorite passages, in Acts it says in part…

in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. … Acts 17:11b&c NKJV

The Church today is willing to swallow any kind of doctrine hook, line, and sinker! It is mainly because Christians want to be politically correct and not rock the boat but the other reason is because the Church today is scripturally illiterate! A perfect example of this are the Methodists who allow women behind the pulpit and gay preachers, both forbidden in The Bible, and the Catholic doctrine that forbids priests to marry and confessions of sins to a priest along with the other do’s and don’ts of their religion. Paul warns of false doctrines and believers being swayed by them in 1 Timothy…

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, (2) speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, (3) forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. … 1 Timothy 4:1-3 NKJV

Also in 2 Timothy where he says…

(3) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; (4) and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. … 2 Timothy 4:3-4 NKJV

There are other examples as well throughout The Bible but they are too numerous to list here but these are the most well known passages. Moving on…

vv 19-23 – (19) Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” (20) The people answered and said, “You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill You?” (21) Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel. (22) Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. (23) If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath?

Religion is harmful because it causes people to kill others in the name of their religion. Islam is prime example of this as well as the Crusades of long ago. The Jewish leaders were willing to kill Jesus in the name of religion even though God forbid them to. I have a theory of why they wanted to do this. I can back it up scripturally but again it’s only a theory. If you remember, God sent the Hebrews into captivity for 70 years in Babylon. One of the reasons why was because of the people’s violation of the Sabbath and because they were swayed by false prophets and bad rulers. So here comes Jesus now healing people on the Sabbath and saying, “Follow Me”. What I think they did was flash back to the time where Moses tells them and this is in Deuteronomy 13…

(1) “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, (2) and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—’and let us serve them,’ (3) you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (4) You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. (5) But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst. … Deuteronomy 13:1-5 NKJV

Fearful of God’s judgement again, they take everything out of context here that Moses told them and decide, “Hey! He’s got to go!”. What the people weren’t hearing was that Jesus wasn’t telling them to follow false gods but to follow God. Again this is just a theory but I think this is what was running through the people’s minds at the time.

In verse 20, the people tell Jesus You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill you?. Can you imagine telling the God of the universe, our Creator…”You have a demon”? They will do this several times throughout the Gospels. Again the people mentioned here are the Jewish rulers, the Pharisees, and probably not just the ordinary people. The question posed to Jesus about seeking to kill Him is probably a question of guilt more than informational. It’s like, “Uh-oh He knows!”.

The one work that Jesus is talking about in verse 21 is the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda that was covered in Chapter 5. Jesus heals a man who had been lame for 38 years and then tells him to pick up his mat and walk. It is witnessed by the Pharisees who throw a fit because the healing and the man carrying his mat were done on the Sabbath and both were forbidden by their law. They marveled not because of the miracle but that Jesus did it on the Sabbath. In verse 22, Jesus points out to them that they circumcise a man on the Sabbath according to the law of Moses which wasn’t Moses law but God’s. According to God’s law, a male had to be circumcised on the eighth day after birth and if that eighth day after birth fell on a Sunday, it still had to be performed. It had been practiced by the fathers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob etc out of necessity. In verse 23, Jesus points out that the people were willing to do something out of necessity on the Sabbath, mutilate a baby boy, then why have an objection to something done out of mercy on the Sabbath, making a man who was suffering for so many years completely whole. Let’s move on to the last verse and wrap this up. …

v 24 – Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

Verse 24 is a command from Jesus to judge. It would seem here that Jesus is contradicting Himself. In Matthew, part of His “The Sermon On The Mount” discourse, Jesus says…

“Judge not, that you be not judged. … Matthew 7:1 NKJV

This verse is often taken out of context because most people, including most Christians, don’t know what Jesus means here. Jesus is not saying that we shouldn’t judge. The fact is, we are judged all the time! We are judged by our employers. We judge our friends. If we’re parents, we judge our kids & our kids, in turn, judge us! LOL! If we’re teachers, we judge our students who also judge us and so on and so forth. Let’s face it…life is full of judgement! We judge or are being judged every single day of our lives! So what did Jesus mean when He told His disciples not to judge others? Jesus meant not judging others on two principles:

1) Judging to tear others down instead of judging to build them up. Jesus explains if you read on in the same passage from Matthew…

(2) For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. … Matthew 7:2 NKJV

2) hypocritical judgement – For example telling someone it’s wrong to steal when you steal yourself! Again, Jesus explains as you read on…

(3) And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? (4) Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? (5) Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5 NKJV

“Do not judge” is not a blanket statement against all criticism of others. I mean if you’re heading down a road of spiritual darkness, wouldn’t you want someone to let you know that you are? I know I would! We just have to make sure that we’re not on the same road!

Jesus tells the people not to judge according to appearance but judge with righteous judgement. This means not to judge someone’s motive behind anything that they do. That is God’s job not ours. We cannot tell what is in someone’s heart but God knows and that is the way that he judges us not by our actions but the motive behind them. In 1st Samuel, it says…

For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” … 1 Samuel 16:7b NKJV

So in closing, here is the difference between just being religious and having a true meaningful relationship with the Lord. It has to do with the differences between fundamental religion and the Gospel. Religion emphasizes the outward but the Gospel emphasizes the inward. It’s kind of like the movie “The Wizard of Oz”. The wizard looked mighty and fearful but when Dorothy’s dog Toto pulled back the curtain, there was just this little old man pulling levers and pushing buttons. Same thing with believers. Just because someone carries a bible around with them and spouts biblical verses ad nauseam, does not mean they are a true follower of Jesus. Jesus says by their fruits you will know them. Look at a person’s actions and how they lead their lives when the church spotlight is off of them. That determines whether or not they have a saving relationship with Jesus. The next thing is that religion emphasizes prohibition, what you can’t do, but the Gospel emphasizes freedom. Religion says you can’t. The Gospel says you can! Further on in the Gospel of John in Chapter 8, it says…

(31) Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. (32) And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” … John 8:31-32 NKJV

Notice the key word here though abide. It’s not enough to just believe in God’s Word. You have to follow God’s Word. The way you follow God’s Word is to read God’s Word…all of it not just the parts we like. The third thing is that religion puts up barriers but the Gospel tears them down. Where Jesus was teaching in the temple was known as the court of the gentiles. It’s where anyone could go even Jewish women. There were other courts there but you couldn’t go there unless you were a Jew. If you did, you would be killed. That’s why Jesus chose to teach there because it opened His message up to everyone and that is who the Gospel is for…everyone! Paul says in Galatians…

(28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. … Galatians 3:28 NKJV

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew?…

(28) Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. … Matthew 11:28 NKJV

That’s a message that should unify and bring comfort to everyone who wants it! The last thing is that religion says you have to work your way but Jesus says “I am the way”! Religion says if you are good and you pray and you confess your sins to a priest and you don’t eat meat on certain days and you help old ladies cross the street or many of the other “ands” that many religions require then you will get to heaven. Jesus says just believe in Me and you’re there! Again further on in John’s Gospel…

(6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. … John 14:6 NKJV

Again this should be another message that unifies and brings comfort to everyone who wants it! Not to belabor this point because I want to save it for another time but I think you have to believe John 14:6 first before John 3:16 will have any benefit for you! Finally and to close this out, it’s not hard to discern the truth and what’s not… just read God’s Word! Before I became saved, I had a belief that God was the human body and The Bible was its owners manual. In some regards I still believe that in that The Bible is our owners manual. It teaches us what is the truth and what is not, how to take care of our bodies, what pleases God and what doesn’t, and makes us have a more, closer and deeper relationship with Him the more we delve into it. In this day and age, there is no reason for Christians not to be into God’s Word. No one’s life is that busy that you can’t sit down and read it every day especially with all these smartphones and i-phones. Instead of downloading useless apps, download an app that has The Bible. There are a lot of them out there and read the whole Bible not just the parts you like! Instead of reading “The Mueller Report” and worrying about whether President Trump is guilty of colluding with Russia or not, start colluding with God! President Trump is not your ticket to salvation! LOL! Let’s pray…

Heavenly Father,

Thank You again for Your Word and the freedom that we have to read it and talk about it…a freedom that we all take for granted. Lord in this day and age, there are so many voices out there telling us what is the truth and what is not but Lord we have Your Word which is the ultimate truth. Lord, I pray that Your people would not only read it but also apply it to their lives and the life of this nation. Father we pray for all of the broken, lost people out there who are following useless religions struggling to find peace, comfort, and meaning behind them when all they have to do is to turn to Your Son Jesus Christ who You sent to this earth to die on a cross so we can enter Your Kingdom unhindered and nothing that we can do or say can ever replace that…or belief in Him and that wonderful work and it’s in that wonderful, glorious name of Jesus we pray…Amen!