So Jesus answered them, My teaching is not mine; but his who sent me. He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood (John 7: 16-18)
As we have been reading through John I have noticed a theme that is almost hidden behind the grand events and teachings of this gospel. It is Jesus’ constant and consistent affirmation of the passion that drove his life:
I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. (John 5:30)
I say passion because doing God’s will was never an act of resignation for him, but was life itself, as he tells his disciples by the well in Samaria when they begged him to eat the food they had brought him:
But he said to them, ‘ I have food to eat which you do not know.’ So the disciples said to one another, Has anyone brought him food? Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.’ (John 4:31-34)
To do God’s will was his joy, even on the cross. Certainly he did not want to die and was in agony in the garden, but we are never to believe that he went to the cross in resigned obedience, rather that he embraced and endured it with something akin to delight (while still hating the pain and suffering). The writer of Hebrews captures this as he applies the fortieth Psalm to the sacrifice of Jesus:
Consequently when Christ came into the world he said, Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings I take no pleasure. Then I said ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, As it is written of me in the roll of the book.’ (Hebrews 10: 5-7)
The very next words of that Psalm are, I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.
The scripture from John 7 above is but a single occurrence of what could be said of everything in Christs life: ”My teaching is not mine; but his who sent me.” But, I must say, it is the one which hit me particularly hard. After all I am a teacher and have been for forty-four years. I know how often I have failed to make sure the lesson was his and not mine and how often it was my glory, and not his, which I have sought. I know how often my delight has not been to do his will. Perhaps I can excuse this by saying that, after all, he is Jesus and I certainly am not; but I don’t think so. Jesus is the man I was meant to be, but by Gods grace, can be. I was meant to be that man who says, “I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” And so were you.
How can we become what we are meant to be but are not? We must lean into it and ask God’s help. We must contemplate the passion for God’s will that drove Jesus and long to be like that. We must pray for God’s help. We must receive his grace in the sacraments. And we must act. We must begin consciously seeking God’s glory and doing his will in every situation and not give up until it is the very thing we most want to do in life. We will fail, but we must repent, be forgiven, and try again in the firm assurance that, by God’s unfailing grace, we shall become who we were always intended to be: those who from the heart say, ”My food is to do the will of him who sent me and accomplish His work.”
Fred Durham is President of Alighieri Press and serves as an author, speaker and editor.