Jesus said these words in response to people who questioned what he was saying because he was uneducated. (John 7:15) Jesus did not have the credentials or the experience people thought he should have. How ironic!
Jesus did not gain his knowledge in the usual way, of course. He did not graduate from the Pharisaical seminary. He did not have a diploma. He was I AM. He did not need a diploma!
No one has ever had more credentials to speak with authority than Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God through whom the world and everything in it was made. But it is just like us to judge by our own standards, expectations and preconceived notions of what is legitimate, acceptable and trustworthy. We want proof on our own terms according our own standards.
Jesus told the Pharisees that, though they searched the Scriptures diligently for eternal life, they missed the very fact that all of the Scriptures testify of Him. (John 5:39) Even with the fulfillment of the Scriptures standing in front of them, they did not believe. He was not what they expected to find. He did not meet their expectations.
Jesus performed miracles in front of crowds of people. Though some believed, others did not. The Pharisees, instead of considering that the miracles were testimony to God’s power and authority, accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath by “working”. (Luke 6:6-8) The Pharisees had already decided who Jesus was (or was not), and no proof would change their minds.
How interesting it is that Jesus tells us that willingness to do God’s will comes before knowing!
Put in the reverse, knowing God requires willingness to do God’s will. Any unwillingness in us is an obstacle to knowing God.
While some would say, “I will believe when you prove it to me”; Jesus said, “Be willing to do what I tell you, and then you will know.” We want it the other way around. We want God to prove Himself first, but God is simply waiting for us to be willing.
It is not the doing, but the willingness that comes first. Knowledge of God comes from the willingness to do God’s will. We want the knowledge first, but the knowledge does not come without the willingness. Knowing God, then, is not an intellectual exercise, but an exercise of the will.
We want God to prove Himself, to overwhelm us, but He is not that way. He will not impose Himself on us. He waits for our hearts to be willing, and He responds to those who ask Him, seek Him and knock at His door. (Matt. 7:7)
God shows Himself to those who desire Him.
[i] Thelo means to desire, wish and will (desiring what is best (optimal) and ready and willing to act on it).
[ii] Manthano means “a disciple” – properly, learning key facts; gaining “fact-knowledge as someone learns from experience, often with the implication of reflection – ‘come to realize.’”
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