The goal of every Christian is to become like Christ; to know Him (Phil 3:10) so well that we are conformed into His image (Rom 8:29). I tell this to my students (and myself) all the time: know Christ, so that you can live like Him. If you know nothing else about the Bible, know Christ. This means that we all must spend a good deal of time in the four Gospels, so that we can see Christ and then be able to imitate Him and learn from His example (Luke 6:40; 1 Pet 2:21; 1 John 2:6).
Well, since June 2017, I have been taking my students on a expositional journey through the Gospel of John. We have all loved see Jesus in His love and compassion for people, in His reaching out to the lost, and in challenging our own ideas of what “righteousness” looks like in light of His own.
Now, recently we began John 7, I have found much practical encouragement from Jesus’ example of humility towards His Father. Jesus has zero desire to do anything else but what the Father has given Him to do, and in this way, we see Jesus example of how we ought to live as well.
Let me give you two lessons from John 7 that I found particularly helpful in my own life:
Jesus lived on God’s Timing & In God’s Way
So, the Feast of Booths comes around (if you can’t remember what that was about, check this out), and all Jewish males were headed toward Jerusalem. Jesus’ being perfectly obedient to His Father and the Law would have been preparing to go as well.
Enter His biological brothers. In their unbelief, they tell Jesus to reveal Himself as Messiah at the Feast. After all, Jesus just lost a whole bunch of followers (John 6:66), and everyone is going to be in Jerusalem. “Show yourself to the world,” was their encouragement (7:4). But, this was not the right timing. “My time is not yet here” (7:6).
And here we have lesson #1: God’s timing & God’s way is the only option. It is not just the best, but for Jesus, it was the only timing & way. Jesus could have revealed Himself as Messiah, because He is. He deserves to be worshipped and adored as Messiah and King of the world. But that would only come in His Father’s timing and in His Fathers way (which we know was through the cross).
Here, we can learn something from Jesus. His reputation and self-promotion was in His Father’s hand. Jesus owned all the kingdoms of the world, and He was due their honor, but it was not His time. He came to serve, not to be served. He deserved it all, but He sought none of it. Instead of lifting up Himself, He submitted Himself to do God’s will in humility.
In God’s kingdom, humility always comes before glory. The goal of Jesus (and therefore us) is to live humbly, as a servant, doing God’s will, promoting God’s agenda throughout our lives, and letting God take care of the coming glory.
Jesus did go up to the feast, but “not publicly, but as if in secret” (7:10). I love that! Again, God’s timing & God’s way.
Jesus Spoke Only for God’s Glory
So, in the middle of the week-long Feast, Jesus went to the temple and began to teach. Everyone was amazed at his teaching. Jesus could have used this as an opportunity to talk about His agenda and promote self. But, look what Jesus says:
“16 … My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”
Simply put: “my words are God’s words. I simply quote Him.”
Such incredible humility here. Jesus could have said they were His words, because they were. But Jesus wanted people to know that He is a man under authority; that He lives His life based upon the truths of His Father. And in this way, He gives glory to God and not Himself.
Too often I find myself giving my opinion and preferring my own preferences, and then backing that up with the Bible. This is the wrong direction. I need to feed people God’s truth first and foremost. When I speak about my experiences and opinions before God’s truth, then I lift myself up in other’s eyes (as well as my own), because now I become the answer-man. We must follow the example of Jesus and honor God by getting His Word first in the minds of our hearers, no matter how unpopular it may be. People need to know that we are people under the authority of God.
And so, here we have another motivation of getting deep into our Bibles, so that we can have God’s Word in our heart and mind, so that we can get it into other’s minds when we speak with them. And when we do this, we give glory to God, for His ways and His thoughts reign over all.