Halfway through the festival, Jesus went up to the temple and started to teach. Astonished, the Jewish leaders asked, “He’s never been taught! How has he mastered the Law?”
Jesus responded, “My teaching isn’t mine but comes from the one who sent me. Whoever wants to do God’s will can tell whether my teaching is from God or whether I speak on my own. Those who speak on their own seek glory for themselves. Those who seek the glory of him who sent me are people of truth; there’s no falsehood in them. Didn’t Moses give you the Law? Yet none of you keep the Law. Why do you want to kill me?”
The crowd answered, “You have a demon. Who wants to kill you?”
Jesus replied, “I did one work, and you were all astonished. Because Moses gave you the commandment about circumcision (although it wasn’t Moses but the patriarchs), you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If a man can be circumcised on the Sabbath without breaking Moses’ Law, why are you angry with me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath? Don’t judge according to appearances. Judge with right judgment.”
Some people from Jerusalem said, “Isn’t he the one they want to kill? Here he is, speaking in public, yet they aren’t saying anything to him. Could it be that our leaders actually think he is the Christ? We know where he is from, but when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.”
While Jesus was teaching in the temple, he exclaimed, “You know me and where I am from. I haven’t come on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him. I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” So they wanted to seize Jesus, but they couldn’t because his time hadn’t yet come.
Many from that crowd believed in Jesus. They said, “When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man does?”
If any of you know me personally, you’ll know that I’m not traditionally trained in theology. That is, I don’t have a masters degree or a doctorate. This troubles me. A lot. I remember when I was being ordained, I felt completely worthless, as in less worthy, than my colleagues. Sitting at the table around me were other clergy members from the Lindisfarne Community. There are several with advanced education degrees - masters, doctorates, double-doctorates. Me? I just have Information Technology (IT) certifications. I’m just an average person who loves Christ and have been given the grace and gifts to pursue theology on my own for over twenty-five years. There are people who completely shut me off when they find this out.
So, this passage really speaks to me on a personal level. And I bet it speaks to a lot of other ordinary people, too. And it should. Just because we don’t follow the traditional way of learning doesn’t make our insights any less valid or needed.
Quite a while ago, I went to an eschatology (study of the last things) conference held in our city. A group of people that I respected were holding the conference with a lot of people I admired as the featured speakers. We were fortunate enough to have dinner with a couple of the speakers, too.
One night, one of the main speakers and my wife and I got to chat. His name was David Chilton. He was a famous author and theologian. A short time prior to this conference, he had suffered a massive heart attack and was in a coma for weeks. He had lost a lot. He couldn’t remember the books he wrote. He couldn’t even remember his family. His short term memory was also an issue, so he kept a little notebook with him to write things dowb. He wrote down our names.
The second night, we got to speak with him again, a little more in depth this time. “I really liked your lecture,” I told him,
“Thank you, Jack.” He didn’t have to look at his notebook. “Have you read any of my books?”
“Have you read my book, Paradise Restored?”
“What did you think of it?”
“Well, to be honest, I didn’t get past the first few chapters.”
“Well, Mr. Chilton, you make the same arguments you fault the other side for making.”
“What do you mean?”
“You quote passages of scripture to prove your point, but those passages have time statements all around them. You give the futurists a hard time for saying that the time statements don’t really mean what they appear to mean, but you do the same things when those time statements don’t line up with your view.”
I pointed out a couple of passages from his book and showed him what I meant.
“Why didn’t you write me and point that out?” he asked.
“Me? Who am I? I’m a nobody. I don’t have any degrees. I’m not a theologian. You’re David Chilton! A published author with a Master’s divinity degree and a doctorate in philosophy! You wouldn’t have listed to me.”
I was really stunned by my candor. But I think David was more so. His eyes began to well up with tears. “You know? You’re right. I wouldn’t have. Thank you so much for talking with me now.” He gave me and Mahina a hug.
Sometimes, G_d speaks through the “least of these” to those in power. In all reality, those are the vessels G_d likes to use because they’re deemed “foolish” by the systems of the world.
This is a lesson I need to learn over and over again. It’s nice to know that the Religious Elite of Christ’s day thought the same thing about him.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC