John 7: 14-36
Have you ever heard of the great con-man Frank Abagnale? He was played by Leanardo Caprio in the movie “Catch me if you can.” Frank Abagnale Jr. was the youngest person ever to be put on the F.B.I.s most wanted list. Abagnale was an expert forger and con artist. He impersonated a variety of characters none of which he was qualified to do: a teacher, an airline pilot, a paediatrician in a hospital for 11 months an attorney, and a professor in a university – all between the ages of 16 and 21 years in the mid 1960’s
One time he was actually caught and sent to state prison. He managed to convince the prison guards that he was an undercover agent and got them to let him out of jail.
Eventually he was caught and put in Federal Prison by the FBI. Today Frank Abagnale is a consultant for the FBI and he speaks as an expert on security to commercial firms and government agencies all around the country. Here was a man who was good at passing himself off as almost anybody else. What made him effective was the presentation.
Once Frank took 8 young women on a worldwide tour (at Pan AM’s expense) as part of a fake airline promotion to win the role as an air stewardess. It was a cover for a scam in which he cashed checks for over $300,000 dollars in countries throughout Europe.
The women were simply the window dressing that turned the eyes of the bankers and made his story believable. When he was finally caught Frank Abnagale said, “It’s all in the presentation.” And how true this is, how often do we judge people on their appearance and not what they are like as people?
Frank Abagnale looked like the reality but was a fake, he fooled people with his appearance. Jesus Christ was almost exactly the opposite. Jesus was not handsome and didn’t look the part – but He claimed to be and was the son of God. Jesus is different. Jesus is the reality. Here is the God-man who looks like a peasant, works like a carpenter, teaches like a learned rabbi, preaches like a prophet, performs miracles like a God. Here is the man who claimed to be God – and is not a fake. He’s the real deal.
Jesus came out of seclusion and went to the feast when it was at its height. He went to the temple and called people to make serious, studied judgments, and not simply snap decisions based on surface appearance. He points out if anyone is really earnest he can know whether Jesus’ teaching is of divine origin or not, by following them.
Jesus was the reality that looked, at least to many, like a fake. In John 7:14 we see the reality. We hear that Jesus only went up to the temple halfway through the Jewish feast of the Tabernacles, His absence during the first half of the feast allowed the curiosity and rumours about Him to continue to build. After He arrives in Jerusalem He heads directly to the temple and teaches in the outer court. John does not record what He taught, unfortunately but it does record the reaction of those present: The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?”
As the people, including the temple authorities and religious leaders, listened to Jesus’ teaching they were amazed. His knowledge and mastery of the Scriptures and His wise and authoritative exposition were undeniable. How could an uneducated man know more than the great rabbinical teachers of the day? He had not sat at the feet of these gifted, studied, and accomplished teachers, yet He surpassed them in knowledge and understanding. How could He be so wise?
Jesus declares that the reason His teaching is so amazing is because it does not originate with Him. His wisdom, message, and power came from the Father. He gave all the glory back to the One who had sent Him.
He goes on to teach how to distinguish between the true teachings of God and those from man is by following them, by doing God’s will – the secret of knowing God’s will is being willing to do it. God does not give His will simply to get our approval of it. He does it to get our obedience. Only the one who chooses to do God’s will gets to know it. It is a call for surrender to God and a trust in God.
God’s will is true but we must have faith and act on it before we will know it is.
There was a once man who got LOST IN THE DESERT. After wandering around for a long time his throat became very dry, about that time he saw a little shack in the distance. He made his way over to the shack and found a water pump with a small jug of water and a note. The note read: “pour all the water into the top of the pump to prime it, if you do this you will get all the water you need”. Now the man had a choice to make, if he trusted the note and poured the water in and it worked he would have all the water he needed. If it didn’t work he would still be thirsty and he might die. Or he could choose to drink the water in the jug and get immediate satisfaction, but it might not be enough and he still might die. After thinking about it the man decided to risk it. He poured the entire jug into the pump and began to work the handle, at first nothing happened and he got a little scared but he kept going and water started coming out. So much water came out he drank all he wanted, took a shower, and filled all the containers he could find. Because he was willing to give up momentary satisfaction, he got all the water he needed. Now the note also said: after you have finished, please refill the jug for the next traveller.” The man refilled the jug and added to the note: “Please prime the pump, believe me it works”!
We have the same choice to make, do we hold on to what we have because we don’t believe there are better things in store for us, and settle for instant gratification? Or do we trust God and give up all that we have to get what God has promised us? I think the choice is obvious. We need to pour in all the water, trust God with everything. Then once we have experienced what God has to offer, tell others to trust Him. Jesus did just that.
With every act of obedience, the truth of what Jesus says becomes more and more persuasive. We know it is true, because God proves Himself true every time with living water. We need to tell other people, “Go ahead prime the pump, believe me it works!”
Obedience to God’s known will develops discernment between falsehood and truth. When we practice what He says, the evidence becomes internal and real. God’s Word proves itself true to those who sincerely do it.
But how are we to know who is speaking the truth? Jesus teaches us how to know a religious pretender from the real deal in verse 18. “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”
Jesus honoured God. He was not seeking the applause of people. If He was, He certainly would have been teaching a different message. Instead, it was on His heart to exalt God and, in turn, humble man. Man cannot truly exalt God till He humbles himself.
How do you tell the real deal from that which is fake and false? It’s not hard. Just ask yourself, “Who is getting the honour?” Con men are about themselves. In the final analysis they care only about themselves.
Frank Abagnale Jr started out with his father’s credit card. He would go to a garage and buy 4 brand new tyres with his dad’s credit card. Then when the attendant would ask if he wanted them fitted Frank would say, “No, I want to sell them back to you for 50 % less. You give me cash and keep the tyres, and so they would do it – keeping half the cash for themselves and the tyres stayed on the rack ready to be sold again. Everyone was happy – except Frank’s dad when he got the $2500 bill from his credit card company. Who was honoured in this transaction – Frank, the con man, was.
The reason I understand Jesus is the real deal is because everything He did was about honouring God the Father. When Jesus talked to the woman at the well in Samaria He did it to honour God. When He healed the man at the pool of Bethesda He did it to bring honour to the Father. Before He fed the 5000 He blessed the 5 loaves and two fishes and thanked God. After the meal was over He gave the honour to God.
In all you do, do it for the glory of Jesus Christ! God will not share His glory with any man. Many who work for God feel slighted. Know for sure that God sees you, and your reward is in His book and will be in His hand. You may not receive acknowledgment from man but you will receive it from God! Jesus doesn’t forget anything we do to honour Him. Remember the woman who poured perfume onto the feet of Jesus, Jesus said her story is to be told forever. If there is a readiness to do God’s will, the capacity to discern God’s will or God’s message will follow. Whoever has a readiness of heart to do God’s revealed will, will recognize in the teaching of Jesus a message which authenticates itself. If they do not intend to follow God’s revealed will they will not perceive it as the truth.
Are you committed to following the revealed will of God? You cannot be the real deal unless you are ready to be obedient to God. We need to ask our self if we are the real deal: When we speak do we speak of His acts or our own? Do we seek His kingdom or our own? Do we honour His life or our own? Is earthly reward our basic reason for serving God? Do we live for Him without expecting the praise of Men? Will we go through life “conning” ourselves that we follow God’s will when in reality we don’t truly follow the teachings of Jesus? Or will we make a commitment to truly choose to follow the will of the Father?