My Doctrine is not Mine, but His that Sent Me
© 2022 C. O. Bishop
Last week, we focused on Jesus’s “negative” statement that “My time is not yet come.” It was the fact that Jesus had a very exacting life to live, with almost no deviations He could make. We compared it to the fact that our lives are not choreographed, and that the length of our lives could vary quite a bit, depending on choices we make. But we also saw that, regardless of the choices we make, our lives are still in God’s hands. Many who have lived pure, righteous lives in the last two centuries, have died young. They were victims of tropical diseases, because they chose to follow God’s leading and take the Gospel to a place it had never gone before. All we can do is to choose to obey God, and to trust Him for the outcome.
But this week we will focus on another “negative” statement: “My Doctrine is not Mine!”
My Doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me
14 Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. 15 And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? 16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
Jesus was teaching in the Temple, not in the marketplace, or the local Synagogue. The Jews heard Jesus teach, right there in the temple, and they were astonished at His teaching, His Grace and His wisdom, etc. (Remember, This was not the first time that people were astonished at his wisdom: when he was twelve years old, he visited with the elders in the temple, and they were amazed at His precocious grasp of spiritual things. And again, when he was about thirty, (Luke 3:23; 4:16-30) He had taught in the synagogue in Nazareth, and they were amazed at His gracious words…and then tried to kill Him when he pointed out their multiple failings to have recognized the prophets of the past.)
What was the source of the teaching?
The people recognized that Jesus lacked “Formal Education.” They knew who he was, at least some of them, as we see in verse 27. It may have been a fairly superficial knowledge, but they at least knew Him well enough to know that he had very little formal education, and they may have known his background, that he was “Jesus, the carpenter’s son.”
In his home area, everyone knew him, as we see in Mark 6:3, and they were offended when He taught. Some of those from Nazareth were there in Jerusalem, for the same reason that He, Himself was there: It was the feast of Tabernacles, and all the Jews went there.
But they were amazed that He could teach with such power and grace, and Jesus heard their collective question between themselves, and, though it had not been directed to Him, He replied: “My doctrine is not Mine but His that sent Me.” Then He went on to explain to them how they could recognize His message as God’s Word, and how to recognize a prophet sent from God.
How Can We tell the Difference?
17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. 18 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.
Jesus said that if any person was willing to do the will of God, them he or she would have the spiritual insight to know whether Jesus was truly transmitting the thoughts of God, or was “just teaching his own thoughts.” He said that the primary clue would be found in the motive of the teacher: He said, “he that speaketh of himself (on his own authority) seeketh his own glory.”
Jesus sought no glory, and never “took up an offering.” He sought neither glory nor gain.
False teachers are all too willing to accept credit for all that they do (and more) and to tell you how “superior” their relationship with God is, boasting of all the wonderful things God has done through them. Frequently, if one is alert at all, there are also some fairly recognizable and clearly ulterior motives: Something that “feeds the flesh.” It could do so in a wide variety of ways.
Personal Glory and Personal Gain
Some are in “the ministry” for personal gain…and they see every church and every believer as a potential “market” for whatever they are attempting to “sell.” For some, it is less “corrupt,” but they still see the “ministry” as being “just a job:” a way to earn a living. They see it in the same light as any other career: as a job, rather than a calling, to which all else must take second place. So, if another church offers more money or better benefits, it does not hurt their conscience to leave the flock which had been entrusted to their care, and just “grab a better job.” And, if that is what the “ministry “ is really supposed to be about, then no one can fault them.
I once had a young man tell me that he intended to become a “youth pastor.” So, I asked him why; and he freely told me that “They get to go on lots of outings, rafting trips, concerts, and so forth, all paid for by the church!” (The word “pastor” means shepherd: you are supposed to be feeding the flock! Some do it better others, but that is the central command to shepherds!) I felt sad, and sickened by his response, but he was a very young man, and I barely knew him, so I did not push very hard, trying to dissuade him. And I was told years later, by a mutual friend, that he had eventually changed, and now pursued ministry for the sake of ministry: I hope that it is true.
But whatever other ulterior, fleshly, worldly, or even demonic motives false teachers may have, they definitely want “honor” for their efforts. In Matthew 6:5; 23:7-12; Luke 20:46, 47, Jesus addressed such people personally, saying that they were hypocrites: they loved the honor, and the respectful greetings in the marketplace, they loved to be called “Rabbi.”
(This is still a trap today: “Ah, good morning, Pastor Smith! Good to see you, Deacon Jones!”) But Jesus said they were also preying on the people they were supposed to serve, seeking to buy out the properties of widows, and not caring for the poor, but rather, enriching themselves. This directly echoes the condemnation God extended to the false shepherds of Israel in Ezekiel 34:3, “Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.”
God condemned those false shepherds of that age, and He condemns such behavior today! He sees His Flock—the believers of all history—as being His personal possession: and anyone who mistreats that flock, He sees as a predator, endangering His flock.
This is why Jesus condemned such people as “Wolves in sheep’s clothing.” In Matthew 7:15, He said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”
Today, in the Church Age, we are warned of “false teachers.” 2nd Peter 2:1, says, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” The Lord sees these teachers as predators who “fleece” His Flock, or who draw them away from Him, away from His truth and His guidance and His care. He does not take this lightly; and neither should we.
What about the Law?
Jesus drew the crowd’s attention back to the prime accusation the Jewish leaders made against Him: They said that He was teaching people to break the Law. They said because he healed on the Sabbath, he was a lawbreaker. But He reminded them that none of them kept the Law. He didn’t go into a lot of detail in this passage, though He did in other places. Here, He only said that none of them kept the Law, but they wanted to kill Him for “breaking the Sabbath.”
19 Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me? 20 The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?
This is where the people (perhaps some of the conspirators) denied that anyone was seeking to kill Him, and they accused Him of being demon possessed. But, looking ahead to verse 25, we see that the crowd absolutely knew that the authorities were seeking to kill Him. (incidentally, the word translated “devil” here (v. 20) is the Greek word “daimonion,” meaning an “evil spirit,” and used almost exclusively in reference to demon-possession.
21 Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel.
This is in reference to the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda: John 5:16-18 says that they absolutely had wanted to kill Him after he healed the man on the Sabbath, and then, when He defended His actions, by saying that His Father (God) was working that day, on the Sabbath, they more vehemently sought His death, because He claimed (truthfully) to be the Son of God.
What about the Sabbath?
Knowing that the reason the authorities had originally (a year earlier) sought to kill him was the issue of the Sabbath, Jesus brought up a logical argument to support His having healed on the Sabbath: The Law of Moses required that all male Jewish children be circumcised on the eighth day after birth: no exception was made for the eighth day falling on the Sabbath.
22 Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) (circumcision goes back to Abraham, far predating Moses.) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. 23 If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? 24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
He shows the logical “disconnect” in the response of the Jewish religious authorities. But in so doing, He evidently “joggled the memories” of those who had been there the year before, and they all realized, “Oh, now I remember! This is the one who got in so much trouble last year!”
25 Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill?
It is interesting how human memories can be so selective: Everyone seems to have forgotten what happened the previous year, with the man Jesus healed and the response of the rulers at that time. There were other healings He had done at about that same time, but the one on the Sabbath was the one over which the trouble had begun. The people of Jerusalem definitely knew!
Why were the Authorities silent?
26 But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?
So, the next logical question in their minds was. “Look, He is teaching openly, in the Temple! So, why aren’t they doing anything? Why aren’t the religious rulers getting right down here and arresting him?”
It was logical that they should ask, “Do they know something we don’t know? Is He really the Messiah? Are they afraid to confront Him??” and we see in the following verses that people were beginning to believe in Him. In the next passage, though, beginning in verse 32, we see that the Jewish rulers actually did send officers to arrest Him, but they went back empty handed, saying “No man ever taught the way this man teaches!”
What was different about Jesus?
Why did the officers go back empty handed? What was so special about Jesus? They had heard hundreds of teachers before, but this one was different. Matthew 7:29 and Mark 1:22 both say that “He taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” Jesus didn’t need to insert disclaimers, saying, “Well, the best authorities and scholars all say…” He was the best authority: It was His Word that He was teaching! And what we have seen, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, is that God’s Word is what changes lives: God’s Word is powerful and alive and penetrates through to our deepest heart-secrets. No one could hear Jesus and not be affected!
Were they all affected in the same way? NO! Not at all! The same sunlight that softens wax hardens mud! The same daylight that causes night-creatures to take cover, causes creatures of the day, whether birds or butterflies, to wake up and get busy living! God calls us children of the light, and children of the day, and He calls us to wake up and get busy living!
The Doctrine is not Ours but His that sent us!
We have nothing of our own to offer. Every atom of our bodies and of the whole universe already belong to God. He has chosen us in Christ, to be ambassadors for Him. And the message we bring is not ours to choose: The Gospel is clearly spelled out, and He says it is His only means by which to save souls. Romans 1:16 makes that completely clear.
When we share the Gospel with another person, attempting to do the job we have been given, we do not have the authority to “water down the message, and make it more palatable.”
Paul said, “We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” If we shrink from presenting the Gospel unadorned, and unsweetened, then the reality is that we are “ashamed of the Gospel.”
Romans 1:16 says “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to everyone that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
Are you ashamed of that message? Are you uncomfortable with it? Do you admit to yourself that this message is what we are sent to share, and that being an ambassador for Christ is the only job He has given to us?
We need to come to grips with the simple fact that, as Jesus said, “The doctrine is not mine but His who sent me!” I do not have the option to stray off into other messages, whether it is just my personal opinion, or things of political expediency, or social acceptability. I have no such option!
Jesus admitted that, in spite of His supreme authority as God in the Flesh, He still presented the message He was sent to present: not just His own ideas. And, when we do the same, preaching, teaching, and sharing His message, not some clever thing we thought up on our own, then we can expect that the result will be to God’s Glory, and for His Gain.
We need to take hold of that single concept, accept the fact of our universal calling as ambassadors of Christ, and then step out with the doctrine of Christ, and share it without shame with anyone who will listen. Then we can cheerfully and confidently leave the results up to Him.
Lord Jesus, teach our hearts that the message of the Gospel did not originate with us: It is Your doctrine, Your message, and Your assignment to the Church. Help us to respond in faith and obedience.