Short Meditations in John 7: 16. Refocus
Jn 7:16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me.
We have just seen how the Jews reacted with amazement at the breadth and depth of Jesus’ teaching, especially when it seems that Jesus had had no special teaching or training, was not known for having been a disciple of one of the great teachers, the well-known rabbis. So how does this man have this depth of teaching? The wrong question is being asked: it is not so much ‘how’ as ‘from where’. Yes, if he had been a disciple from one of the rabbinic schools that might explain it, but even then the more important question is who did he sit under, and where? Those are the things that are going around in the minds of ‘the Jews’ (v.15), which probably also includes the Pharisees or temple officials there in Jerusalem.
Jesus responds directly to all these questions by pointing to his background, but that is going to cause a problem. Problem number one is that Jesus is not very specific here – we’ll have to wait for the next verse for him to identify God as the one who has taught him. Problem number two is what does that actually mean? John the Baptist was sent by God (Jn 1:6) so does this simply mean that he had had the same calling from heaven that John had? This isn’t actually a declaration of divinity, simply that he has a divine calling.
Now putting it like this, shows us that Jesus’ revelation about himself wasn’t always direct and open; it was, as is often seen in the Gospels, a revelation that is there for those who have eyes to see, but otherwise is a hidden revelation. He speaks obliquely. (He had, remember, back in chapter 6, spoken a number of times about having come down from heaven.)
Just recently a prophecy has been circulating around the world about the coming year and listening to some discussing it, I kept hearing, “But what does that phrase mean?” The truth is that whether it was Jesus then, or the Holy Spirit today, heaven does not always make it ultra-clear, but leaves questions, question that will have us going back to the source asking either, “Lord, what does this bit mean?” or, “Lord, is what is happening at the moment the fulfillment of what you were saying there?” The Lord looks for ongoing relationship and so taught then and today in ways that would keep us close to him!
But it is grabbing the truth of, “It comes from the one who sent me,” is what is vital. Once we grab hold of the truth that Jesus is instructed by the Father (and comes from the Father) then nothing that he says or does should surprise us. This is the foundation stone of our beliefs: that God exists and everything originates from Him – including His unique Son who came in the form of the man we know of as Jesus Christ. Accept that and nothing here will be a surprise.