If I want to see Jesus, what must change inside of me? That’s the question Pastor John took up in a sermon in 2011. He was preaching on John 7, particularly verses 17–18, where Jesus says, “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.” This text has some incredible implications for our lives, as we will hear in a sermon clip, sent to us by Harley in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It’s a really good one about seeing the glory of Christ and the challenge of self-glory-seeking. Here’s Pastor John.
If we stopped at John 7:17, which is where we are right now, and didn’t go on to verse 18, we’d have a general truth; it would be a true truth, but it would be without specifics. And the general truth would be something like this: you will discern that Jesus is a reliable spokesman from God when your will deeply and profoundly comes into sync with God’s will. That’s the true, general truth of verse 17: you will know Jesus, you will recognize him for who he is as a true spokesman for God, when your will is brought into sync with God’s will. When your will is in sync with God’s, your knowing will be in sync with truth. That’s the general truth.
‘Be Amazed at God’
But we’re not going to stop at verse 17 because Jesus has much more help to give us here. I didn’t see this as clearly until I was a pastor at this church in the mid-eighties. Verse 18 is so, so life-affecting for me in relation to verse 17. So, let’s work with this for a minute.
The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood [literally, no unrighteousness]. (John 7:18)
“The mark of truth is a passion for God-exaltation, not self-exaltation.”
Now remember, when the crowds were impressed with Jesus’s learning, he said to them in verse 16, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.” So, he deflected their amazement at his learning to God. He deflects it from self-exaltation to God-exaltation. That’s what’s going on. They’re coming at him, saying, “You’re amazing,” and he says, “Well, whatever that is, my words are not mine; they’re God’s. So, if you want to be amazed, be amazed at God.”
Mark of Truth
Now he explains in verse 18 that this — what he did in verse 16 — is how you can know he’s true: “The one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.” So, let’s put verses 17–18 together now, and try to figure out their relationship.
- Verse 17 says that if your will is to do God’s will, you can know whether Jesus is a true spokesman for God.
- Verse 18 says that the way you can know if he’s true is whether he’s seeking the glory of God above all things.
That sets the stage for a lot of thinking about the relationship between those two verses: My will has got to get changed so I can know him. And the way to know him is that he loves the glory of God more than anything. And he’s not into self-exaltation. He’s into God-exaltation. And that’s true; that’s the mark of truth.
Free from Serving Praise
So, what’s the relationship now between these two verses?
- Verse 17: Willing God’s will enables us to know him for who he really is.
- Verse 18: You can know that he’s really true because he’s totally committed to exalting his Father.
And the way I put the two together is this: verse 18 describes specifically the deepest change that has to happen in my will in order to see Jesus as who he is. The mark of his truth is a passion for God-exaltation, not self-exaltation. That’s verse 18: the mark of his truthfulness is a passion for God-exaltation, not self-exaltation.
Now, for me to see that, and be drawn to it, and recognize it as the mark of truth, I’ve got to be changed. That’s not the way I am by nature — nor you. By nature, we love our own glory. We love the praise of man. That’s the way we’re wired. To be made much of feels better to us than anything in the world when we come into this world.
And something really profound in the alteration of our wills has to happen for us to begin to enjoy making much of God more than we enjoy being made much of by people. Something really profound has to happen. And that’s the change being called for in verse 17: our wills have to come into sync with God’s will. And God’s will for his Son and for us is that we live for his glory — that we deflect to him, that we love to see him made much of, and that we’re not addicted any longer to this craving for human praise that governed us.