14 Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach. 15 The people were surprised when they heard him. “How does he know so much when he hasn’t been trained?” they asked.
16 So Jesus told them, “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. 17 Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. 18 Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies. 19 Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me.”
20 The crowd replied, “You’re demon possessed! Who’s trying to kill you?”
21 Jesus replied, “I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed. 22 But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses’ law of circumcision. Actually, this tradition of circumcision began with the patriarchs, long before the law of Moses. 23 For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? 24 Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”
25 Some of the people who lived in Jerusalem started to ask each other, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 But here he is, speaking in public, and they say nothing to him. Could our leaders possibly trust that he is the Messiah? 27 But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.”
There is an important dynamic going on here. Jesus showed up and launched right into teaching. The religious leaders question his education/credentials, instead of dealing directly with the content of his teaching, which seems to have impressed them on some level. Then Jesus gave a response to them that did not directly respond to what they were asking. He claimed that his teaching was not original but was faithful to Scripture, unlike their plot to kill him. Then they accused him of being demon possessed.
Then Jesus made his claim to Scripture more explicit, explaining how following its precepts often involves choosing to follow one part at the expense of conflicting part. He demonstrated the prevalence of this choosy approach to Scripture: circumcising on the Sabbath sets aside the Sabbath law (even though it is part of the big ten!) in favor of a more important one: circumcision. In the same way, Jesus set aside the Sabbath restriction to heal the man in ch. 5. Jesus’ point is that we routinely choose which parts of Scripture to follow and we should therefore choose to follow the ones that promote love and compassion toward God and each other.
Jesus makes us recognize that choosing is involved in following Scripture and thus we must give attention to choosing well. He also indicates a failure to appreciate the dynamic of how we receive and apply Scripture leads to misunderstanding Scripture. The religious leaders were so sure of their interpretations, rigid ones that did not show compassion. Jesus calls them into question, showing them their own approach to Scripture was built on the same dynamic of how we receive and apply Scripture, despite their claims to certainty.
This is a lot like the discussions going on now about the nature and role of Scripture. Jesus explained the type of interpretation everyone actually uses, and their only responses were to question his credentials, call him demon possessed, and reassert their exclusive claim to Scripture. Just as Jesus’ method regarding timing/fame met with criticism yesterday, his method of interpreting Scripture does as well. The world is hostile to his waiting and hostile to his use of Scripture. Sadly some Christians are as well.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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