In our previous text Jesus explained what it means to be a God-send leader—it means a life of servitude and commitment to follow the leadership of someone greater than you. In Jesus’ case, all that He did or said was done with the express purpose of glorifying God the Father. Jesus was obedient to His will, and He was submissive to God’s eternal purposes in all things. As our example, we too should submit ourselves to the leadership of our head—our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is only through this act of submission that we are truly capable of Godly leadership. Jesus continues this thought in John 7:17-18:
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.
What Jesus is telling us here is something we all should take fully to heart. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether what Jesus taught was true! What an incredible promise to us all! His teachings therefore were not something hidden and shrouded in mystery but were easily understood by all those who sincerely choose to follow the will of God. Not only shall the teaching be understood, Jesus is telling us that we have the ability to ‘find out’ the truth of Christ’s teachings.
We have the scriptures, which are profitable for all teaching, reproof, correction, and training (2 Timothy 3:16-17)—from Genesis to Revelation which do indeed testify of the truth of Christ’s words. He didn’t speak something new—the Old Testament promised the coming Savior from the very beginning, and Jesus’ words and life aligned perfectly with it. We know of His life, and we know of His death. We have testimony from many witnesses of His resurrection, and even the angels and the heavens testified of the truth of His statements, both at His birth, at the time of His baptism, and after His death and resurrection, as well as on a number of other occasions (Matthew 1:20, Luke 2:9-11, Matthew 3:13-17) We have the testimony of John the Baptist, of Paul, of the apostles and disciples, of even Pilate and his wife who were not disciples of Him! We know the testimonies of countless people, and for those of us who choose to do the will of God, the information is there—we can and will find out whether the things Jesus taught were from God! It is a promise!
Jesus continues by telling us that those who speak on their own do so to gain personal glory. And we can attest to the truth of this from our own human experiences. When someone comes and tried to tell us something incredible—who gives maybe a prophesy, or prediction, or testimony about something they were able to do or accomplish, they usually do so to glorify themselves. Solomon in all his God-given wisdom stated as much in Proverbs 27:2, “Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.” We are also given similar warnings in scripture to be wary about the testimony of only one witness. In the law, the testimony of one was not enough to determine the truthfulness of any statement—something Jesus readily affirms in His ministry as well (Deuteronomy 17:6, Matthew 18:16, John 8:17, 2 Corinthians 13:1, 1 Timothy 5:19, etc).
Since we are mostly all familiar with the ministry of William Branham, we will use him as an example. Unlike Jesus, who did all He did and taught all the things He taught in order to carry out the will and established plan of God which had been recorded in scripture and determined before the foundation of the world, William Branham often taught about the importance of the ‘messenger of the hour’, backing up his claim to this position with accounts of the supernatural sometimes with no witnesses outside of himself. Take for instance his account of creating squirrels. As you read this quote, ask yourself whether Brother Branham is telling this story to point us to Jesus Christ alone and away from man, or to himself:
63-1222 GOD'S.GIFTS.ALWAYS.FIND.THEIR.PLACES_ JEFFERSONVILLE.IN V-6 N-13 SUNDAY_
63 Notice, when Jesus created bread; He took a piece of bread, and created bread that had already been bread. When He created fish; He took a fish that was first created a fish, and put another fish out of it. Is that right? He took water, which potentially would have become wine, and made wine out of it. Is that right? But we've seen Him in our midst, in this last days, create things right out, without anything standing there! Is that right? To create a squirrel where there is no squirrels. Right! Oh, He's... remains God. He's just as much Deity today as He was then and ever was, or ever will be. He's still God, and challenging hearts to believe it, "Greater things than this, you... without anything to hold and break off of. Speak it, and it'll be so."
Surely if someone were attempting to point us to Jesus Christ alone they would not seek to belittle a miracle He performed in order to raise up the importance of a (supposed) miracle performed by the lips of man! Certainly this is what Jesus was talking about in verse 18—that a man would tell something with the express purpose of elevating self instead of elevating the Lord.
Continuing with the story of Jesus teaching during the Feast of Tabernacles:
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?” 21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”
25 At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? 27 But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”
28 Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”
30 At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?”
32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. 33 Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”
35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? 36 What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”
Jesus transitions from His teachings concerning authority, servant-leadership, and ultimately the mark of a God-sent leader and turns His attentions to the immediately pressing matter of those seeking to kill Him because of His testimony. Verses 19 -24 address the issue head-on: there are men seeking to kill Him for His disobedience to the law of Moses, and Jesus asks them point-blank to account for it (Verse 19). The multitudes, either in ignorance of the Jewish leadership’s plans, in an effort to mock Jesus, or in open denial of what they know is the truth the crowd denies the plan and essentially calls Jesus crazy.
But Jesus, knowing the truth of the matter and knowing the hearts of men (Luke 5:22, Mark 2:8, John 2:24, Acts 1:24, Matthew 9:4) knew of the plan, and knew of their specific complaint and addressed it immediately. The people did not understand how it could be lawful for Him to heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus teaches that just as circumcision is lawful on the Sabbath if it is done in accordance with the Will of God, so also healing of a man’s whole body is lawful because it fulfills the Will of God (John 7:23-24).
It is repeatedly taught by our Lord throughout scripture that it is the spirit of the law and not the letter that God is concerned with (2 Corinthians 3:6-8, Romans 3:31, Romans 13:10, Matthew 22:36-40), and the healing of a man’s body, though by the letter might be considered contrary to the law which instituted a day a rest (Exodus 20:8-11, Genesis 2:3, Leviticus 19:30), our Lord explains that the Sabbath is a sign and a gift given to men to benefit men (Mark 2:27, Luke 6:1-20, Matthew 5:17-19). Truly, doing such a good thing on the Sabbath could not be considered contrary to the Law—though for the Pharisees that knew and followed the letter and not the spirit of the Law, it was wrong in their eyes. Jesus tells them that they need to start judging correctly (John 7:24).
Once again, Jesus reads the thoughts and intents of the hearts of the people around Him, and sensing in the crowd their thoughts in Verses 25-27 immediately addresses them: He tells them they do indeed know where He is from—the implication being that those questioning Him know that He was sent from God, even though in their hearts they lied to themselves, attempting to rationalize their rejection of Him at the Messiah by their knowledge of His childhood home in Nazareth, His mother, and His other earthly relations. The meaning of Jesus’ words are not lost on the crowd, who recognized what it was He was implying and attempted to seize Him (Verse 28).
The crowd murmurs about the number of miracles He is performing, and the Pharisees and chief priests send guards to capture Him. Jesus avoids capture however, and continues teaching. He teaches that He will only remain for a short time, and though people will look for Him, they will be unable to locate Him because they cannot go where He is going. The teaching was prophetic—Jesus did stay on Earth for only a short time, and then at the end of His life entered into death, overcame it, and ascended into Heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father, the Majesty on High. They could not follow Him in His path—they might die, but they could not raise themselves again. They might be able to climb into the heavens, but they could never be in the position of authority and power that Jesus occupies to this very day. They can look for Him and His truth on the Earth for the rest of their lives, but they will not be able to find Him, and though they try as hard as they can they cannot be in the same place as Jesus Christ is. He is High Above, and Highly Exalted above all Creation (Philippians 2:9-11)! But one thing is clear in Scripture—those that diligently seek the Lord in humility shall find Him (Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:12-13, Matthew 7:7-8).
Even after all the things Jesus did, and taught, and explained, many of the people listening did not understand. Contrary to the teachings of William Branham, however, Jesus does not leave the people without a clear answer to their questions when they desire to have answers. He is not in the business of rejecting the sincere questions of those searching for Truth. We will see as we move forward in the Gospel of John how concerned Jesus was with even the smallest and most insignificant among them—of children, of oppressed women, and of Gentiles, Samaritans, and sinners all the same. Jesus reaches out, extends hope and compassion to those seeking Him. These Jews did not know what He meant at this moment in time, but one thing is certain—all those who sincerely sought Him would find Him.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.