“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” we’re told. Why not? Because “all that glitters is not gold” and “the beard does not make the philosopher.” After all, “beauty is only skin deep.” An older proverb puts it this way: “Things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream.”
These sayings distinguish between surface appearances and deeper realities, just as Jesus taught in today’s reading (v. 24). He’d surprised the crowds by teaching with knowledge and authority. The apostles would later astonish people in the same way (Acts 4:13). The expectation was that such a person would have been formally trained by a Jewish rabbi, but they knew Jesus had not been. How, then, was He able to teach in the way that He did (v. 15)?
In one sense, the crowds’ confusion was understandable. Human beings generally acquire knowledge from various teachers and experiences as they grow up. Jesus had the human experience of growing up (see day 24), but He was also the Second Person of the Trinity and therefore all-knowing. When He claimed divine authority, it was entirely appropriate (v. 16), but they evaluated Him to be “demon- possessed” and “raving mad” (v. 20; John 10:18–20). A Messiah who was both suffering and authoritative didn’t fit their grid. They were spiritually blind and failed to understand that Jesus was fully man and fully God.
Jesus explained that His teaching came directly from the Father, not a rabbi (v. 16). Only people who responded with faith and obedience would be able to recognize this (v. 17). The truth of His teaching was further validated by the fact that He sought the Father’s glory (v. 18). Christ’s teaching thus confounded human expectations! We should expect godly learning to do the same.
>> Notetaking helps us learn. Consider taking notes in the TITW app or keeping a written journal, a personal record of what God is teaching you.
Like the crowd in the story, we can sometimes be blinded by prior knowledge. Give us discernment to recognize unexpected aspects of who You are, even when it challenges what we think we know.