Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. John 7:16
MANY ARE NOT CONTENT WITH JESUS. They seek the true God behind His back. The first audiences of His sermons balked at His audacious offer of forgiveness: “Who can forgive sins but God alone?!” When Peter was confronted with the prophecy of this world’s rejection and abuse of Messiah, he was equally nonplussed: “Lord, this shall never happen to you.” Philip, reflecting the black ignorance that has fallen on the world, blurts out: “Show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus’ entire identity was a virtual mystery: “Some say you are a prophet, others say ‘Elijah’ or one of the prophets of old…” Always and forever man struggles with the incarnate God. Blindness, ignorance, arrogance, and gracelessness deprive men of their only prize. Face to face with Him, we, as a race, often find ourselves living out the famous question of John the Baptist in the throes of despair: “Are you the coming one, or should we look for someone else?”
All of this demonstrates man’s complete incapacity for the “sincere pursuit of truth” in which he believes himself to be engaged. We are not of the truth, by nature, and therefore when the truth appears in history as a person, we, of course, cannot bear it. As a matter of course we must doubt the reality: “There must be some mistake. Surely the truth should manifest itself more directly, or more spectacularly, or more attractively, or more…” These are the ramblings and protests of the fallen mind. Jesus is unflinching, however, in relation to His divine claim. If one is to know God, one must embrace His teaching. And, as the Scripture above clearly states, that teaching is of one substance with the intent of God the Father. God is not one thing and Jesus another. God the Father is not some great, threatening cosmic meany and Jesus the Son, some kind of soft and coddling intermediary. John, the beloved apostle, states it thus: “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.” One cannot find the god behind the back of Jesus, for that god simply does not exist. One has the Father only insomuch as he has the Son. One believes in God only insomuch as he believes in the Son. One must reckon with the audacious, gracious, suffering, bleeding, weeping, sweating, sleeping, dying, rising Christ if one is to be in the truth. One must content himself with this Man if one is to know God.
Shall we, indeed, look for someone else? Must we demand of God that He deliver fit answers to our “rightful” queries? Do we find ourselves rehearsing the classic struggle of our ancient forbears and their persistent doubts? Was Philip’s “insight” keen — Is there, perhaps, something behind His back? Jesus assures us: there is nothing back there. God’s will is singular and plain: He loves this world to death. He does not change. He is not one thing yesterday and another today. He is not loving and kind and merciful on the surface and yet raging underneath. His favor does not vacillate with the changing fortunes of our world. His “teaching” is not simply doctrines and solutions. It is God in this world: Immanuel; God with us—to the death, God with us in death and in life, God with us and for us on all sides, God abiding in us and we in Him. Herein lies the secret of our peace: He is telling the truth and practices no bait-and-switch so common to our commerce. “My teaching is not mine…” for He and the Father are one.
~ Pastor Nathan Juntunen, Esko, MN
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