In my final preparations for tomorrow’s message I am struck by this commentary on John 7:17 from Charles Simeon’s Horae Homileticae (pg. 417-420). Specifically, what Simeon pinpoints as the real obstacle to Jesus’ teaching.
John 7:17. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
“THE very enemies of our Lord were constrained to say, “Never man spake like this man.” Yet did many of them persist in representing him as a deceiver: and, because he had not been educated after the manner of the Scribes and Pharisees, they considered him as incapable of instructing thema. But to what was it owing that they could not receive his word? Was there any thing in his mode of conveying his instructions, which involved them in unnecessary obscurity? The parabolic form in which he taught the people was common in his day; and, if it cast somewhat of a veil over his instructions, it tended to remove the offence which too explicit a statement would occasion, and to convey knowledge to persons precisely in such a measure as they were able to receive it. The real obstacle which his discourses met with arose from the inveterate prejudices with which the minds of his hearers were prepossessed. Hence they rejected his word, and denied that he was divinely authorized to promulgate the doctrines he maintained. To remove this obstacle, he told them what it was which they wanted, and what alone it was which would render his word profitable to their souls. They wanted an integrity of mind, to obey the truth, as far as it should be revealed to them: and therefore he said, “If any man will do God’s will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (emphasis mine)”
Simeon goes on to offer this bit of wisdom regarding God’s word.
When this holy disposition is wanting, almost every truth of Scripture will prove a stumbling-block to us: but when it regulates our researches, we shall find all the deepest and most offensive declarations of God’s word to accord with our real state before him.
What are the obstacles you put up that keep you from hearing and obeying Jesus?
When you are ready to lay aside those obstacles and truly follow Jesus, then you will love His Word. Love His correction, and seek out His leading for you life. Simeon says it this way.
It is not regarded as the word of God. Men sit in judgment upon it; and, instead of taking it with meek submission as a rule of their faith and practice, satisfy themselves with making it a theatre for the display of their own ingenuity and learning. At best, the generality of men give but a feigned assent to it as the inspired volume: they will, perhaps, even contend for it as a whole, and yet dispute against it in relation to all its most important parts. Thus men contrive to evade its force: but when it comes fully upon the heart and conscience, “it is like fire, or like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces.” Let it once reach the heart of man, and it will prove “sharper than any two-edged swordd,” and “bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christe.”