16 So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
Examine / Explain
Here, Jesus was at the Feast of Booths, teaching in the temple. The people were amazed at his teachings. Jesus answered an unasked question by stating that He is not the originator of His teachings but Him who sent Jesus. And we all have the same opportunity if we are willing to do His will and not our own. And it takes the action and sacrifice to learn about God to do His will. And we know which “will” we are doing by whom we want to receive the glory and without deceiving ourselves.
In The Crises of the Christ, G. Campbell Morgan points out the distinctive importance of verse 17.
“While that passage is generally quoted as declaring a philosophy of Christian discipleship, and while it has that application, it should never be forgotten that the first intention of the words is that of an answer to a question of the Jews, and is our Lord’s account of His knowledge of the things that astonished His hearers. The Man Who perfectly does the will of God is the Man Who understands all mysteries; and is familiar with facts which ordinary men only understand by long effort and study. The secrets that lie hidden in Nature, fallen man with clouded intelligence must search after; but God’s unfallen Man will read them upon the open page of Nature, discovering immediately the deepest philosophies of life” (Morgan, pp. 104–05).
Kenneth O. Gangel, John, vol. 4, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 144–145.
How do I apply this to my life?
Discipleship is head, heart, body, and soul. It takes every part of us to follow Christ. But how often does our pride and ego get in the way? And even when we think we are working for ministry we actually deep down want the recognition? We put in all this effort and thought to make something great “for the Lord,” but we have a twinge of “look at what I did.” I think it’s a fine line and we can zig-zag across that line every day. But I think the key is that we are willing to admit when we are crossing the line. We confess that our hearts and motives are pointing to our own glory and not God. We are willing to dig and research what is God’s thought about it. We allow ourselves to be receptive to the Holy Spirit. We are open to rebuke and correction, not condemnation. When are we doing heart checks on the actions we perform? Where is the head check throughout the day as we are earning income but living in a spiritual kingdom? How is our soul doing? What are we doing to our bodies? Where are we willing to do His will? What are we willing to learn? What actions are we going to do differently?
What is my response?
Father, I want to be known for pursuing You. Not for being perfect. Not for knowing a lot of things, but I want people to say, “That guy really pursued the Lord.” There is that fine line. I want to bring everything I learn and do to the feet of Jesus, and I want to be known for doing it. But is that really for my own glory or Yours? Regardless. I still want to pursue You. I want to know more about who You are and learn how to live a life that resembles Jesus. I must be willing to make sacrifices in my life. I must put God first, spouse second, family third, and on down the line. Where am I not doing that in my life? Where am I missing the mark? What am I not learning? How am I not learning it? Who is reflecting my heart back to me so I can see the dark spots in it? How is my soul? Am I tending to it? Lord, how am I doing? Guide me to where I need to be. I pray that I am receptive to the guidance. I pray I have ears to hear and heart to listen. Change me from the inside out. Amen.