Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”
Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.
The Festival of Tabernacles, also known as Sukkot (or Succoth), is one of the three major festivals in the Jewish religious calendar. The other two are the Passover and the Festival of Weeks. It's a joyous, week-long celebration that takes place five days after Yom Kippur, which is the Jewish Day of Atonement. Jews make a pilgrimage for the festival from all around the world.
The Festival of Tabernacles was in full swing when Jesus boldly stepped into the temple courts and began to teach. The first question you have is probably the one I had. After entering the city secretly, why did Jesus suddenly decide to reveal himself? It seems the "right time" for him to preach had arrived! Once he began teaching in the temple courts, his public presence made it more challenging for the leaders to arrest him without causing a scene, especially given his popularity among many of the people.
In any event, the Jews are astounded by his teaching, asking, "How did this man get such learning without having been taught?" Their question reveals a preconceived notion of how knowledge is acquired and who has the authority to teach. Jesus' response challenges not just the assumptions of his day but speaks to all generations: "My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me.”
In a society that placed a high value on formal education and lineage, Jesus points to a different source of authority: direct revelation from God. He wasn't a product of the rabbinical schools; his wisdom and authority were divine. But Jesus doesn't stop there. He offers a litmus test for discerning the authenticity of his teaching: "Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.”
Here, Jesus introduces a radical idea. True understanding doesn't come from intellectual prowess alone but from a heart positioned to do God's will. It's experiential knowledge. When one aligns their will with God's, the divine truths Jesus speaks become self-evident.
Furthermore, Jesus contrasts himself with other teachers, saying, "Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.” In a world where many sought honor and recognition, Jesus' motives were pure. His teachings weren't designed to elevate himself but to glorify the Father and guide humanity to truth.
Do meditate on this reflection for more than a few minutes. It's brimming with lessons for all, particularly for those entrusted with teaching God's word. Such a sacred task demands utmost responsibility and an unwavering purity of intention.
God bless you.