Sabbath, November 26, 2011

“Whenever it is necessary for the advancement of the cause of truth and the glory of God, that an opponent be met, how carefully, and with what humility should they

[the advocates of truth] go into the conflict. With heartsearching, confession of sin, and earnest prayer, and often fasting for a time, they should entreat that God would especially help them, and give His saving, precious truth a glorious victory, that error might appear in its true deformity, and its advocates be completely discomfited.” –Evangelism, p. 165.

Divine teachings

1. What did Jesus say about what He taught? What might He say about our teachings?
John 7:16-18 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.

“All the while Jesus was at Jerusalem during the feast He was shadowed by spies. Day after day new schemes to silence Him were tried. The priests and rulers were watching to entrap Him. They were planning to stop Him by violence….

“On the first day of His presence at the feast, the rulers had come to Him, demanding by what authority He taught. They wished to divert attention from Him to the question of His right to teach, and thus to their own importance and authority….

“The question of these cavilers Jesus met, not by answering the cavil, but by opening up truth vital to the salvation of the soul. The perception and appreciation of truth, He said, depends less upon the mind than upon the heart. Truth must be received into the soul; it claims the homage of the will. If truth could be submitted to the reason alone, pride would be no hindrance in the way of its reception. But it is to be received through the work of grace in the heart; and its reception depends upon the renunciation of every sin that the Spirit of God reveals….

“He now gave a test by which the true teacher might be distinguished from the deceiver: ‘He that speaketh from himself seeketh his own glory….’” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 455, 456.

Erroneous views

2. What showed that Jesus could read their thoughts and feelings?
John 7:19 Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?
John 7:24-26 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?

Personal question: How would we react if someone told us our secret thoughts?

“Jesus gave the rabbis an evidence of His divinity by showing that He read their hearts. Ever since the healing at Bethesda they had been plotting His death. Thus they were themselves breaking the law which they professed to be defending. ‘Did not Moses give you the law,’ He said, ‘and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill Me?’…

“He went on to show that His work of healing at Bethesda was in harmony with the Sabbath law, and that it was justified by the interpretation which the Jews themselves put upon the law. He said, ‘Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision;… and ye on the Sabbath day circumcise a man.’ According to the law, every child must be circumcised on the eighth day. Should the appointed time fall upon the Sabbath, the rite must then be performed. How much more must it be in harmony with the spirit of the law to make a man ‘every whit whole on the Sabbath day.’ And He warned them to ‘judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.’” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 456, 457.

3. What unfounded ideas did some have concerning the Messiah’s coming? How did Jesus refute them?
John 7:27-29 Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is. Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not. But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me.

Thought question: Where do speculative ideas come from? 

“Many among Christ’s hearers who were dwellers at Jerusalem, and who were not ignorant of the plots of the rulers against Him, felt themselves drawn to Him by an irresistible power. The conviction pressed upon them that He was the Son of God. But Satan was ready to suggest doubt; and for this the way was prepared by their own erroneous ideas of the Messiah and His coming. It was generally believed that Christ would be born at Bethlehem, but that after a time He would disappear, and at His second appearance none would know whence He came. There were not a few who held that the Messiah would have no natural relationship to humanity. And because the popular conception of the glory of the Messiah was not met by Jesus of Nazareth, many gave heed to the suggestion, ‘Howbeit we know this Man whence He is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence He is.’

 “… They claimed a knowledge of what the origin of Christ should be, but they were in utter ignorance of it. If they had lived in accordance with the will of God, they would have known His Son when He was manifested to them.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 457.

Unprejudiced minds

4. Despite the opposition and misleading influence of the Pharisees, what did many people believe? Since the Light of Life was with them for a very short time, what should they have done?
John 7:31-34 And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done? The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him. Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come.

“The hearers could not but understand Christ’s words. Clearly they were a repetition of the claim He had made in the presence of the Sanhedrin many months before, when He declared Himself the Son of God. As the rulers then tried to compass His death, so now they sought to take Him; but they were prevented by an unseen power, which put a limit to their rage, saying to them, Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther.

“Among the people many believed on Him, and they said, ‘When Christ cometh, will He do more miracles than these which this Man hath done?’ The leaders of the Pharisees, who were anxiously watching the course of events, caught the expressions of sympathy among the throng. Hurrying away to the chief priests, they laid their plans to arrest Him. They arranged, however, to take Him when He was alone;…

“All day long He had stretched forth His hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people; yet He would be found of them that sought Him not; among a people that had not called upon His name He would be manifest. Romans 10:20, 21.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 457, 458.

5. What influence did the rabbis’ opinions concerning the Messiah have on the people? After hearing His divine message, what did even the officers sent to capture Jesus recognize? Does the Lord force anyone who is not willing to believe in Him?
John 7:40, 41 Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?
John 7:45, 46 Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.

“Many who were convinced that Jesus was the Son of God were misled by the false reasoning of the priests and rabbis. These teachers had repeated with great effect the prophecies concerning the Messiah, that He would ‘reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously;’ that He would ‘have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.’ Isaiah 24:23; Psalm 72:8…. The very words of prophecy were so perverted as to sanction error….

“God does not compel men to give up their unbelief. Before them are light and darkness, truth and error. It is for them to decide which they will accept. The human mind is endowed with power to discriminate between right and wrong. God designs that men shall not decide from impulse, but from weight of evidence, carefully comparing scripture with scripture….

“Many are deceived today in the same way as were the Jews. Religious teachers read the Bible in the light of their own understanding and traditions; and the people do not search the Scriptures for themselves, and judge for themselves as to what is truth; but they yield up their judgment, and commit their souls to their leaders.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 458, 459.

A voice of caution

6. How did the leaders challenge their officers who had been convicted by Jesus’ message? How disrespectfully did they speak of the common people?
John 7:47-49 Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.

“Those to whom the message of truth is spoken seldom ask, ‘Is it true?’ but, ‘By whom is it advocated?’ Multitudes estimate it by the numbers who accept it; and the question is still asked, ‘Have any of the learned men or religious leaders believed?’ Men are no more favorable to real godliness now than in the days of Christ. They are just as intently seeking earthly good, to the neglect of eternal riches; and it is not an argument against the truth, that large numbers are not ready to accept it, or that it is not received by the world’s great men, or even by the religious leaders.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 459, 460.

7. After the Pharisees and rulers cast aside the testimony of their own officers and others, through whom else did the Lord warn the leaders not to judge Jesus unjustly?
John 7:50-52 Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.

“Again the priests and rulers proceeded to lay plans for arresting Jesus. It was urged that if He were longer left at liberty, He would draw the people away from the established leaders, and the only safe course was to silence Him without delay. In the full tide of their discussion, they were suddenly checked. Nicodemus questioned, ‘Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?’ Silence fell on the assembly. The words of Nicodemus came home to their consciences. They could not condemn a man unheard. But it was not for this reason alone that the haughty rulers remained silent, gazing at him who had dared to speak in favor of justice. They were startled and chagrined that one of their own number had been so far impressed by the character of Jesus as to speak a word in His defense. Recovering from their astonishment, they addressed Nicodemus with cutting sarcasm, ‘Art thou also of Galilee? Search and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.’” –The Desire of Ages, p. 460.

For meditation

“Every true Christian is a living fountain, ever receiving of the unfailing streams of grace, ever refreshed and ever refreshing those that are around him. Those who are co-workers with God manifest a missionary spirit; for they are ever receiving, that they may ever be giving to others the light and blessing of heaven. Those who open their hearts to receive largely will be able to give largely.” –Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 66.

For additional study

• 1 Timothy 6:20

• 2 Timothy 2:16, 23

The Desire of Ages, p. 21

Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 75, 76, 165

Thought questions

• When you present the message, what is your interest–your own or the Lord’s glory?

• Do you read the Bible in the light of your own understanding, or do you pray earnestly and humbly to be guided by the Holy Spirit?