Hunkered Down Devotion

John 7:14-18 (Voice)
14 In the middle of the festival, Jesus marched directly into the temple and started to teach. 15 Some of the Jews who heard Him were amazed at Jesus’ ability, and people questioned repeatedly:
Jews: How can this man be so wise about the Hebrew Scriptures? He has never had a formal education.
Jesus: 16 I do not claim ownership of My words; they are a gift from the One who sent Me. 17 If anyone is willing to act according to His purposes and is open to hearing truth, he will know the source of My teaching. Does it come from God or from Me? 18 If a man speaks his own words, constantly quoting himself, he is after adulation. But I chase only after glory for the One who sent Me. My intention is authentic and true. You’ll find no wrong motives in Me.


If I asked you to close your eyes and make a list of Jesus’ personality traits, I don’t imagine any of you would include pride on that list.  Even so, I think we somehow still manage to underestimate and undervalue Jesus’ humility.

Our passage today is a wonderful example of what I am talking about.  Jesus, is after all, Jesus and here he exceeds and confounds exceptions not by a miracle, but rather with his ability to understand and teach the scripture.

Those listening rightly highlight that he didn’t have a formal education.  In Jesus’ day there was no such thing as elementary school, and a formal education in the way we would think of it was really only offered to the wealthy or those whose future occupation required it.  Jesus’ father was a carpenter, so he would have been trained to follow in Joseph’s footsteps.

Jesus didn’t have the advantage of years of study at the feet of learned rabbis, and yet, he was able to unlock the Hebrew scriptures and demonstrate deep understanding.  Beyond that, he was also able to transfer that knowledge to others, teaching in a way that allowed others to gain understanding as well.

Have you ever been around someone that was just incredibly gifted?  Whether it is in sports, or academics, or whatever area, supreme ability and giftedness often comes with a significant downside.  We see examples of this in every area of life: the arrogant athlete that acts like he doesn’t need his or her teammates; the brilliant scholar who belittles everyone whose brain doesn’t work quite as quickly; the very successful businessperson that has trampled, neglected or abused many of those that work with or for them.

In those examples above, and in the many more that all of us could recall from our own experiences, great giftedness or ability ends up being diminished or kept from reaching its full potential because of the pride that so often comes with great natural ability or giftedness.
Jesus, time and time again, shows us a different and much more excellent way.  If there has ever been a human that has walked the earth that had the justification to be proud of what they could do or to be a little arrogant because of their gifts and abilities, it is without a doubt, Jesus.

But rather than give into that impulse, in everyway and at all times, Jesus instead of building himself up, uses his gifts and abilities as a marker to point towards God the Father.  This is a witness and a challenge to all of us: if Jesus, who a man on earth was capable of things none of us can even dream of doing was able to remain humble, shouldn’t we be able to do the same?

Jesus accomplished this by not only always pointing to God the Father with his words, but with his heart and mind as well.  When Jesus says in verse 16, ‘I do not claim ownership of My words; they are a gift from the One who sent Me.’ This isn’t false modesty.  Jesus isn’t being shy, or trying to elicit even more accolades, rather he is speaking the truth that he both knows and believes.  The truth that, even for Jesus, all good gifts are not our own, but come to us from the grace and goodness of our heavenly father above.

Sharing God’s Love,
Chip                            
   
Prayer:  Lord, keep us humble.  Remind us that even our greatest strengths are not really our own, but come from you.  Help us to point to you in all that we do.  Amen.

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