10 But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. 11 Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, “Where is He?” 12 And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, “He is good”; others said, “No, on the contrary, He deceives the people.” 13 However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews (John 7:10–13, NKJV).
Jesus went to Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles privately, without the fanfare his unbelieving brothers advocated (John 7:2-5, 10). He entered the temple and taught during the feast, challenging the people to judge righteously about Him and His work (John 7:14-24). Disagreement over Jesus permeated the city. The Jewish leaders (“the Jews”) looked for Jesus to seize Him (John 7:32, 45). Meanwhile, the general public debated His goodness quietly out of fear of offending their religious leaders (John 7:13). To this day, some say Jesus was a good moral teacher, but not the Son of God. Others say He was a deceiver, a con artist. Some say Jesus was a prophet but not deity. Jesus claimed to be sent from God, teaching God’s will (John 7:17). When one desires to obey God, they will know He and His teaching are from God (John 7:17; 10:37-38). We do not follow Jesus because of who others say He is, but because His words and works declare Him to be the Christ, the Son of the living God (John 7:25-31; 4:41-42; 5:36-39; Matt. 16:16-17).
31 Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. 32 And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority (Luke 4:31–32, NKJV).
Jesus taught in the synagogues of Galilee with the fellowship and endorsement of the Spirit of God (Luke 4:14, 18-21). His teaching so enraged the Nazarenes they tried to kill Him (Luke 4:23-29). Yet, those who heard Him testified and marveled at His “gracious words” (Luke 4:22). In Capernaum, people were astonished at the authority of His words (cf. Matt. 7:29). The Jewish leaders marveled when they heard Him teach in the temple. “How does this Man know letters, having never studied,” they said (John 7:14-15). Jesus spoke what the Father gave Him to teach (John 7:16). His words were authoritative because He spoke heaven’s words (John 12:49-50). Titus, the evangelist, was to teach the gospel “with all authority” (Titus 2:15). These men were not certified by the scribes and lawyers of the day. (The apostles were “uneducated and untrained,” Acts 4:13.) Yet, men presume to have the authority to maintain seminaries to certify a person as acceptable (having authority) to preach and minister the gospel. (Only credentialed preachers will do.) Sadly, some churches of Christ seem to trend in the same direction. (Only the credentialed preacher will do for their pulpits.) It makes you wonder whether a simple fisherman (like Peter) could stand in some pulpits today. The preacher’s authority does not come from himself, other men, or credentials earned from men. The gospel preacher speaks by heaven’s authority (1 Tim. 4:11; 5:7). We do well to remember that and humble ourselves before the authority of God and His word instead of men (Gal. 1:11-12; 1 Cor. 14:37).
35 Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. 37 When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” 38 But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” 39 And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons (Mark 1:35–39, NKJV).
There were great demands on Jesus’s time. He came to the world to preach “the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:38, 14-15). People gathered around Jesus to hear His teachings and be healed (Luke 5:15). His apostles needed personal training before going into the world to preach the gospel, so He taught them privately (Luke 9:10). Religious opponents pressed against Him to undermine Him and His work (Luke 11:53-54). He saw long days and short nights. Yet, Jesus took personal time for prayer and meditation (Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; Matt. 14:13). He managed His time effectively, even when everyone was looking for Him. He set and kept priorities for how He used His time (in Mark 1:38, Jesus chose to go to “the next towns” to preach even as people searched for Him in Capernaum, Mark 1:21-34). We all have demands on our time as parents, children, employers, employees, etc. Like Jesus, remember your faith priorities each day without distraction. Take time to pray, read God’s word, meditate, and serve others (1 Tim. 4:13, 15). “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness… (Matt. 6:33).” Redeem your time with wisdom and faith (Eph. 5:15-17).
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1, NKJV).
Paul’s deep love for Timothy is evident in his affectionate endearment for his young companion, “a beloved son” in the gospel (2 Tim. 1:2). As Paul’s death drew near, he encouraged Timothy to be strong in the grace of Christ. He would need this, as Paul did when “all those in Asia” and others turned away from him (2 Tim. 1:15; 4:10). Christians stand in grace, having accessed its salvation by faith (Rom. 5:1-2; Eph. 2:8-9). Like Timothy, we need to be strong in grace. Consider some applications for disciples of Christ. (1) Be strong in grace by teaching the gospel of grace. The gospel is the “word of His grace” (Acts 20:32, 24). Grace is forfeited when the gospel is perverted (Gal. 1:6-9; 5:4). Therefore, our gospel teaching must be accurate, in harmony with the grace of Christ and the teaching His word reveals (Titus 2:11-12). (2) Be strong in grace by living in Christ instead of sin. Being strong in grace means no longer living in sin (Rom. 6:1-2). It is no longer our habit. God’s grace fortifies us to serve God instead of sin (Rom. 6:11-16). (3) Be strong in grace by speaking what is needful. Our speech should “always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Col. 4:6). Take care to speak with grace and mercy toward others (cf. 2 Tim. 1:16-18). As Solomon said, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness” (Prov. 15:1-2). “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen” (1 Thess. 5:28).
1 And again He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea. 2 Then He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching: 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.” (Mark 4:1–3, NKJV)
People crowded around Jesus to hear Him teach. Indeed, teaching was an integral part of His work (Lk. 4:18-19; Matt. 4:23). Truly, He was the Master Teacher (Lk. 6:40). But people must listen to the teacher if learning is to occur. As Jesus taught the crowds onshore from a boat, He said, “Listen!” This word is in the imperative mood, conveying “a command for someone to perform the action of the verb” (Ancient Greek for Everyone). Jesus commanded them to listen! They needed to pay attention and not miss what He was teaching them. Even so, He commands us to listen to Him. We must do more than casually listen to the teachings of Jesus. We must be cautious not to inject into His teachings what we prefer to hear Him say. Unless we pay close attention to His words, we will not understand them (Jno. 8:43). The wise person hears the words of Jesus and does them (Matt. 7:24-25). Jesus teaches us the truth that frees us from sin, so obey His command to “listen” to Him (Jno. 8:31-32).
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. (James 3:1, NKJV)
James sets his context for mature control over the tongue (Jas. 3:2-5). The teacher of God’s word will be judged for the teaching he does and the words he uses in that work. Every responsibility one has will be judged; James is not singling out teachers expect to emphasize that teaching comes with judgment – an incentive to be mature in the use and control of our tongues. 1) God will judge what a teacher teaches. We must teach the revealed word of God, not opinions, and the will of men (1 Cor. 2:1-5; Acts 20:20-27). Teachers must be careful to speak God’s word (2 Tim. 4:2; Gal. 1:8-9). Teach truth, not error. 2) God will judge how a teacher teaches. Paul explained this to Timothy: “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition” (2 Tim. 2:24-25). Coupled with “rightly dividing the word of truth,” Timothy would know how to teach effectively. 3) God will judge why a teacher teaches. Paul continued, “if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth” (2 Tim. 2:25). We teach the gospel to save souls, not to commend ourselves before men (1 Cor. 1:23-24; Col. 1:28; Matt. 23:6-8). As teachers, may our tongues speak words that honor God and accomplish His will in the hearts and lives of men. Be careful teachers; judgment is coming.
How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. (1 Corinthians 14:26, NKJV)
The church of Christ is a spiritual kingdom (Jno. 18:36; Matt. 16:18-19). According to the New Testament model, local churches of Christ exist to spread the gospel (evangelism), to serve Christians in times of deprivation (benevolence), and to strengthen the souls of the disciples (edification). Edification (building up) is spiritual strengthening that occurs through our worship and the instruction from the word of God (Col. 3:16; Acts 14:22). The Scriptures do not describe social and recreational activities as edification and fellowship. Spaghetti suppers, volleyball games, and camping events are not sources of spiritual edification. It is the word of God’s grace (the gospel), “which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). In today’s passage, the proper use of the temporary miraculous spiritual gifts (tongues, revelation, interpretation), as well as psalms and teaching of God’s word, would edify the church (1 Cor. 14:27-33, 3-5). Miraculous spiritual gifts served their purposes and ended, but our need for spiritual growth to maturity in Christ endures (1 Cor. 13:8-13; Eph. 4:11-16). Thank God He arranged the local church to come together so we can grow and be strong in Christ (Acts 20:28; Heb. 10:24-25).
“The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” (Psalm 19:9, NKJV)
God’s judgments are “true and righteous,” reliable and trustworthy, unbiased by error and untainted by the stain of prejudice. We must resist the temptation to pronounce judgment upon those who would speak God’s judgments to us. When someone speaks to us the truth of the gospel we must refrain from the defensive, futile deflection that says, “You’re just judging me!” It is ironic (not to mention, hypocritical) that those who charge others with “judging” them are doing the very thing they condemn in others. Yes, let us speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Yes, let us correct sinners with humility as we call them to repentance and salvation (2 Tim. 2:24-26). But let there be no mistake, we are not “judging” the sinner when we identify their sin and error from the Scriptures. We are teaching God’s word to help the sinner turn from sin and be saved. By doing so we are sharing God’s judgments, not rendering our own. “With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth” (Psa. 119:13). God’s true and righteous judgments are revealed in His word. By hearing His judgments (His word) we can turn from sin, turn to God, and conform ourselves to His judgments (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:20-24). May we never condemn someone for telling us the truth (Gal. 4:16). Instead, may it be said of us, “I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me” (Psa. 119:30).
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.” (John 7:14–17, NKJV)
The Jews were perplexed that Jesus was teaching with skill and expertise. He had not been trained at the feet of their scholars. Jesus was not given authority to teach by the scholars of the day. He was a commoner from an obscure village, far from their center of learning. Yet, He spoke the doctrine of God with authority (Matt. 7:28-29). The reliability of someone’s teaching does not depend on credentials the teacher has earned from a school of learning. Seminary training is not a biblical prerequisite to knowing and teaching God’s truth. The prerequisite to knowing the teaching of Christ is having a will to do God’s will (v. 17). A heart that is open to hearing and receiving the teachings of Jesus equips us to know the truth of God that has been revealed by the authority of Jesus. He taught the doctrine of the Father, who sent Him to the earth. The gospel of Christ is that very doctrine (1 Tim. 1:10-11). We preach His doctrine today, to save the lost and to secure the saved (Matt. 28:18-20; Col. 1:24-29). May we always have a will to do God’s will, and follow the teaching of Jesus.
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” 61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you?” … 63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” … 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. (John 6:60-61, 63, 66)
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not beyond our ability to comprehend. The problem here was the unwillingness of His audience to receive His teachings. When we complain about the difficulty of receiving and following the teachings of Christ we are complaining against Jesus Himself. The words of Jesus Christ are “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68, 63). Jesus did not modify and change His teaching to what the audience felt it needed to hear. He did not change the vocabulary of truth to be sensitive to their anxieties, insecurities and doubts. So, many were offended and did not follow Him. Yet, He boldly expected them to change themselves to conform to His word. He expects the same of us, too. Instead of trying to change the gospel to fit our agenda, Jesus says to change ourselves to fit His. His words give eternal life. Our own words can never do that (Jeremiah 10:23).