2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. 3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.” (John 8:2–4, NKJV)
Why do people come to Jesus? This passage contrasts two different reasons. Some people come to Jesus to be taught by Him. They are ready to hear His words, to learn from Him. Those who “labor and are heavy laden” are among this number (Matt. 11:28-29). Open minds ready to receive and follow Jesus listen to Him with pure motives that increase faith (Acts 17:11-12). Others come to hear the words of Jesus with an agenda, like the scribes and Pharisees. They wanted to test Jesus so they could accuse Him of wrong (Jno. 8:5-6). They were not concerned about the law; they were violating it by their very conduct (where was the man involved in this sin?, Lev. 20:10). They were not interested in the woman’s salvation; she was a pawn in their devious attempt to ensnare the Son of God. Like them, some only listen to gospel preaching to disparage the gospel teacher, discard his gospel teaching, and generate doubt in others (cf. Acts 6:9-13). Use your opportunities to hear the gospel of Jesus with a ready heart, not a condemning eye. You will find rest for your soul when you come to Jesus this way (Matt. 11:28-29).
33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end. 34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. 35 Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. 36 Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. (Psalm 119:33–36, NKJV)
Living by faith is not a blind leap in the dark. Faith is the rationale response of the heart that longs for God, His ways, and His blessings. Note this as the psalmist implores God to teach him the path of divine statues, and he will keep them (v. 33). He pleads for an understanding of God’s law so that he may keep it with a heart that is enlarged and completely devoted to God (v. 34; Psa. 119:32). He yearns for the discipline that comes with divine instruction so that he will walk on the path of obedience (v. 35). He obeys the commands of God with delight because his heart is full of the love of God, not greed for plunder (v. 36). Like the psalmist, let us pray for understanding to keep God’s word with our whole heart (Col. 1:9-11). Obeying the gospel from the heart freed us from sin’s slavery (Rom. 6:17-18). Now, let us keep on learning and living the commands of God with our whole hearts “to the end” (v. 33). Problems of sin arise when we no longer want God to teach us. The heart hardens against the way of His statutes. The path of His commands is no longer delightful. If this is where your heart and life are, then repent (change your heart) and return to the delight of obeying God with your whole heart.
20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: (Ephesians 4:20–21, NKJV)
Knowing Jesus Christ is not instinctive or automatic. We cannot know “what would Jesus do” unless we learn from His word what He would do. Yet, what Jesus personally did while on the earth is not necessarily what you and I must do. For example, Jesus kept the Law of Moses (its feasts, its offerings, its dietary restrictions, etc.), yet we are not obliged to do so today because that law has been removed (Colossians 2:14). We know Jesus always did the will of His Father, and that is the very thing we must also do (John 5:30; 6:38; 8:29; Matthew 7:21). The Father’s will is that we hear and follow Jesus (Matthew 17:5; John 8:31-32). The Scriptures teach us about Christ. We hear Jesus by hearing the words of those He sent into the world to preach His gospel (Hebrews 1:2; Luke 10:16). Jesus told His apostles to teach the disciples “to observe all things” He had commanded them (Matthew 28:20). The apostles fulfilled their mission by teaching the truth that is in Jesus. Learning Christ from them illuminates our path toward God, it does not turn us back to the spiritual blindness of lewdness, uncleanness and greediness we lived in before we were saved in Christ (Ephesians 4:17-19).
5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, 6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm. (1 Timothy 1:5–7, NKJV)
To faithfully teach the gospel one must first be willing to be taught (see 2 Timothy 2:2). Commitment to the commands of God produce love from a pure heart, a good conscience and sincere faith. Love for God, for truth, and for others compels us to learn God’s word before trying to teach it. Desire to teach the gospel without having a knowledge of it may well result in leading a person astray from the very truth he desires to teach. Like zeal without knowledge, desire to teach that is not fettered to knowing the truth produces vain, yet confidently asserted babbling, instead of “godly edification which is in faith” (1 Timothy 1:4). Take time to study and learn God’s word. Examine your motive for desiring to be a teacher of the word. Is it “love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith?” And remember, faithful teachers never stop studying to learn and know the truth they teach.
33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end. 34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. (Psalm 119:33–34, NKJV)
God will teach you His way, when you are willing to learn. Notice that the psalmist wanted to learn the way of God’s statutes because he was committed to keeping them with his whole heart. He was not interested in learning merely for the sake of gaining knowledge. He wanted to gain understanding so that he could obey God properly. Do you want to learn God’s way? If so, why do you want to learn? Is it to justify yourself in what you already believe and do? Is it to prove somebody else wrong? Or, is it to actually do the will of God in your own life? God will teach you His way when you listen to Him. The way you listen to God is by hearing His word that is contained in the inspired Scriptures (John 6:44-45; 2 Tim. 3:16). God speaks to all of us by His Son, Jesus Christ, who sent His apostles into the world with His message of truth (Heb. 1:2; Matt. 28:19-20). When we listen to the apostles, we are listening to Jesus (Matt. 10:40; John 13:20). This is how God teaches us His way (Matt. 11:29; 13:9). Commit yourself to doing God’s will, then let His word teach you what to do. Then, do it with your whole heart.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29, NKJV)
Following Jesus does not mean, as many appear to envision, recklessly living as one pleases, confident that no matter what they do Jesus will take them home to heaven in the end. (Once saved, always saved is not the gospel of Jesus, Heb. 10:26-31.) To follow Jesus one must take His yoke (an instrument of control, direction and service) upon himself. No longer guided by selfish, sinful pleasures or thoughtless, godless deeds, we must let Jesus teach us a life of service under His yoke of training and guidance. The metaphor of a yoke indicates submission to the authority of Christ. His authority is not oppressive, but liberating, as it frees us from sin’s bondage. Living and serving under His authority brings rest to souls wearied by sin. Commit yourself to let Christ rule your life. Learn His ways. Live as His servant. Discover rest for your soul.