Trust Jesus’ Authority
Series: The Gospel of John
This week, Pastor Matt teaches us that we can Trust Jesus’ Authority since:
1. His timing is the Father’s timing
2. His teaching is the Father’s teaching
3. His home is the Father’s home
Citylight Manayunk | Januart 23, 2022 from Citylight Church on Vimeo.
– ESV Study Bible (notes on the Gospel of John by Andreas Kostenberger)
– Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament – The Gospel According to John -Andreas Kostenburger
– The Gospel According to John (Pillar New Testament Commentary) by D.A. Carson, page 311-312
-Expository Thought on John by J.C. Ryle
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One of my favorite parental experiences, and I experience it often, is when one of my children tells Andrea or me something and we wonder with shocked delight, “how in the world did you know that? We didn’t teach you.” I had this experience recently during our Advent series when I had the joy of giving children’s sermons each Sunday. One Sunday I must have been talking about the significance of Christmas or something and my seven-year-old son blurts out that one significant fact about Christmas is that Sir Isaac Newton was born on Christmas Day 1642. It stopped me in my tracks. “How in the world did you know that? You didn’t learn it from me.”
In our passage this morning, the Lord Jesus elicits a similar response from the crowds he was teaching at the temple in Jerusalem. John 7:14-15 – About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. 15 The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” Translation: How in the world do you know all that? You didn’t study to be a rabbi. Interestingly, the way that Jesus responds to the question reveals that Jesus knows that there is more to the question than meets the eye. Jesus perceives that the crowds are not so much questioning his ability, but his authority to teach them. They’re really asking, “how in the world did you get the authority to teach us like that?” John 7:16-17 – So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. Jesus perceives that their question is less about his learning and more about his authority. Now, that is very interesting. Apparently the Jewish crowds of 2,000 years ago have something in common with us contemporary people: we both have a knee-jerk suspicion of authority. We both cringe at the idea of someone having the authority to tell us what to believe and how to live. We both fear that all attempts at authority are just selfish power plays. Ironically, we are so suspicious of authority, that we often give the person who challenges authority, the authority to govern the way that we think simply because they’re challenging authority. This irony reveals that we all inevitably look to some authority to tell us how to think and the best way to live, even if that someone is ourselves. That brings us to the big idea of our passage: Trust Jesus’ authority. Now why should we trust Jesus’ authority? Our passage provides us with three reasons: 1. His timing is the Father’s timing. 2. His teaching is the Father’s teaching. 3. His home is the Father’s home.
HIS TIMING IS THE FATHER’S TIMING
Our passage this morning begins with a conflict. Jesus is ministering in Galilee, not the big city of Jerusalem, because the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem want to put Jesus to death for making himself out to be equal with God (John 5:18). But it’s now time for the feast of booths, when hundreds of thousands of Jews go up to Jerusalem and fill the city to the absolute brim. Think Time Square on New Year’s Eve. Is Jesus going to go up despite the danger? Jesus’ younger brothers challenge him to go. John tells us that it’s an unbelieving, antagonistic challenge. Jesus’ brothers want Jesus to be more than a small town preacher, so they challenge him to go up to Jerusalem and do his miracles in front of the massive crowds that are about to gather, with the religious elites in Jerusalem looking on. This is Jesus’ shot, they think. If the world will just see what Jesus can do, then they’ll believe. NT scholar D.A. Carson points out the irony in the brothers’ challenge. The irony is that the brothers are proof that just seeing Jesus’ miracles doesn’t elicit real faith in Jesus as Messiah. After all, they’ve seen, but don’t really believe. It can be very comforting to remember that Jesus knows the pain of having unbelieving, antagonist family members too. Jesus responds to his brothers in a most direct way, saying, “I decline your challenge because it’s not my Father’s timing for me to go up to Jerusalem and perform signs publicly before the crowds and the religious elite, and be hailed as Messiah. But you guys feel free to go anytime you want. Jerusalem is dangerous for me because the world hates me for exposing their sin. It’s not the Father’s timing for me to be glorified in public display, and I live by the Father’s timing. But you guys can go any time because you don’t listen to my Father’s word, you’re not concerned about his timing or his sovereignty. Any time will do for you.”
You can trust Jesus’ authority because he never hung back from or rushed ahead of the Father’s timing for his own gain. You can trust Jesus’ authority because unlike other authorities that hang back from hard things or rush ahead to make a name for themselves, Jesus’ timing is the Father’s timing. Let’s begin to take this personally. Trusting Jesus’ authority means that we too make our timing the Father’s timing. Make your timing the Father’s timing. I don’t know about you, but I am tempted to both hang behind and rush ahead of the Father’s timing. Probably the most tempting time to hang behind the Father’s timing is when I sin. I know that I should confess my sin to the Lord. I know I should also confess to one of my fellow elders, another church member, or a trusted friend. The Father’s timing for repentance is now, but it’s tempting to hang back, and slow play confessing and killing sin for the sake of temporary comfort. Have you been there? Don’t hang back. There is no life there. It’s also tempting to hang back from the Father’s timing when it comes to speaking about the good news of Jesus to those who don’t yet believe. “It’s not the right time yet.” You know, I don’t think I’ve ever regretted praying for non-Christian neighbor, loving a non-Christian neighbor, inviting a non-Christian neighbor to church, or speaking about Jesus to them “too soon.” Trusting Jesus’ authority expels fear so that we can make our timing the Father’s timing rather than hanging back. On the other hand, it’s also tempting to rush ahead of the Father’s timing. To be honest, I feel this temptation with the property that we’re pursuing for Citylight’s future home. It’s tempting to so want this property, to so feel like we have to get it, that I need to rush us ahead no matter what the due diligence period unearths. Thankfully, I’m not the sole decision maker. Thankfully we have a team of elders, a broker and lawyers, and a wonderful team of wise advisors in our church who love Jesus to help make wise decisions. When you’re tempted to take matters into your own hands and risk rushing ahead of the Father’s timing in your life, wise counselors are what you need. In fact, a tell-tale sign that you’re rushing ahead of the Father’s timing is that you’re making life-decisions in isolation rather than honestly seeking the wise counsel of other church members who love Jesus. Proverbs 18:1 – Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. Proverbs 15:22 – Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. Trust Jesus’ authority, first, because his timing is the Father’s timing, and this by making your timing the Father’s timing.
HIS TEACHING IS THE FATHER’S TEACHING
So, Jesus waits until it’s his Father’s timing and then heads up to Jerusalem privately. Around the middle of the feast, Jesus began teaching the crowds at the temple, which is when the Jewish crowd wonders how Jesus can teach them when he didn’t learn in one of the great rabbinic schools. Jesus’ answer is as startling as it is clear. John 7:16 – So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. In the first century, Rabbi’s wouldn’t dream of simply teaching God’s people on their own authority. When teaching, they would constantly quote the rabbinic tradition to establish their authority. Jesus didn’t follow the practice, but that didn’t mean he taught on his own authority. His teaching rested on a greater authority than the rabbi’s. Jesus’ teaching is the Father’s teaching. Every teacher, every influencer, every author, every journalist, every politician, every parent, and every pastor, even the godliest, have mixed motives and teaching. Their authority may be good, but it isn’t perfect. Jesus is different. John 7:18 – The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. You can trust Jesus’ authority completely and without reservation because his teaching is the Father’s teaching and his motive is the Father’s glory. Even the great prophets in the OT prefaced their teaching with “Thus says the Lord,” but only Jesus could say, “truly, truly, I say to you.” Trust Jesus’ authority because his teaching is the Father’s teaching.
Now, I’d like to ask you a personal question: what will it look like for you to embrace Jesus’ teaching as the very teaching of God for your life in 2022? Maybe for you it would mean laying down your exhausting efforts to measure up to God and resting in the finished work of Jesus and getting baptized. After all Jesus teaches, “come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Maybe for you it means accepting that the man or woman on that porn site or on the street, in your Citygroup, in the brother of your mind, or that you’re dating is royalty – and you’re royalty – because he or she is made in the image of God and is, therefore, not even yours to sexualize in the privacy of your mind. After all, Jesus said, “if anyone looks at a woman with lustful intent, he’s already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Maybe for you it means accepting that in Christ, you’re going to live forever. Therefore, you don’t have to incessantly save your money to spend it on things that will perish. You can use your money first and foremost to advance God’s kingdom, rather than yours. After all, Jesus says, “do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. Instead, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and thieves do not break in and steal.” Maybe for you it means accepting that pouring your life into Christian community is what gives Christianity its true taste, texture and vibe. After all, Jesus says that the world will know that we are his disciples if we have love for one another. I could go on, but it’s a personal question. What will it look like for you to embrace Jesus’ teaching as the very teaching of God for your life in 2022?
Now, I want to graciously warn you. When you start embracing Jesus’ teaching as the Father’s teaching, it will feel wonderful – like getting your life back – but it will also be a bit frightening. You’ll begin to wonder, how can I really know that Jesus’ teaching is from God? Thankfully, Jesus tells us in John 7:17 – If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. Now, that is counterintuitive and revolutionary. Jesus says that belief is more a moral issue than an intellectual one. The only way to understand the Bible, receive Jesus’ teaching, and know that it’s from the Father, is to first make a faith commitment to God. That may seem circular, but only in the best way. You see, finite and fallen people can’t stand back and some sure footing and assess the truth. As D.A. Carson writes, “Divine revelation can only be assessed, as it were, from the inside.” If you really want to understand Jesus’ teaching, know that it’s from God, and that you can trust its authority, you can’t stand back and intellectually dissect it. You don’t stand above God and assess him. Rather, you must first make a faith commitment. Do you want to be sure, in your heart of hearts, that Jesus’ teaching, his person, his gospel is God’s honest truth? Here is the secret: Make a faith commitment to it as God’s honest truth. Do that and you’ll find yourself knowing that you can trust Jesus’ teaching. Trust Jesus’ authority because his teaching is the Father’s teaching and do this by embracing his teaching as God’s teaching for your life in 2022.
HIS HOME IS THE FATHER’S HOME
After Jesus claims that his teaching is uniquely from God, the crowds begin asking the question of all questions. They begin wondering if Jesus just might be the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior promised to God’s people from one end of the Old Testament to the other. Some in the crowd think that Jesus can’t Christ because they know exactly where Jesus is from. Apparently some rabbis taught that the Christ would appear suddenly without anyone knowing where he is from. Jesus responds by saying that the crowds actually do not have any idea where he is really from. Jesus says that he comes from the Father who has sent Him from heaven. He really is the Christ. This sends the crowds into a tizzy of conversation about who Jesus really is. The Pharisees, the serious Bible teachers in Jesus’ day, are furious that the crowds are talking about Jesus rather than paying attention to them at this most important Jewish feast, so they send the temple guards to arrest Jesus. Of course, they can’t arrest Jesus because it’s not his time to go to the cross yet. But Jesus responds to the attempted arrest with the third and final reason why we can trust his authority. John 7:33-34 – Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. 34 You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come.” We can trust Jesus’ authority because Jesus is going away. Jesus is going to the Father who sent Him. But how is Jesus going away? Well, when the time is just right, when it’s the Father’s appointed time for Jesus to be truly revealed to the world and the crowds, Jesus is going to be lifted up on a cross. Jesus is not going on a leisurely journey to a far off country. He is going to the gory of the cross before he ascends to the glory of the Father. And that’s why you can trust his authority. In every area of your life, from your sexuality and your money to your worldview and your thoughts about God, you can trust Jesus’ authority because He’s the one who was willing to lay down his heavenly authority by taking on flesh. He’s the one who humbled himself to the point of death on a cross for you before rising to the Father. You can trust Jesus’ authority because he used his heavenly authority to go to the cross so that his home, the Father’s home, can be your home. Jesus is going to the Father. His home is the Father’s home and later in John’s Gospel he will tell us that since he goes, he’s going to prepare a place for us. Perfect. That’s where we want to be. Trust Jesus’ authority because his timing is the Father’s timing (so trust his timing too), his teaching is the Father’s teaching (embrace Jesus’ teaching as God’s word for your life), and because his home is the Father’s home (that’s news almost too good to be true).
Though we could end there, I believe that if we did, I’d be doing you a disfavor because it’s not where Jesus ends. Jesus ends with the ominous warning, “Where I am you cannot come.” There are scarcely any words in the Bible so terrifying. Jesus is going to the Father. Nothing could be more gloriously, more eternally satisfying than that place. Where Jesus is we cannot come. Nothing could be more horribly terrifying than those words. Can you go where Jesus is going? Not with all your sins you can’t! But if you throw ourselves upon the mercy of Jesus. If you believe in Him and embrace him as our only hope in life and in death, he will forgive your sins and give you eternal life. Only he can do that. Trust Jesus’ authority.