How to make decisions easier
John 7 shows an illustration of Jesus explaining how to make decisions. He states, “If any man will do his will, he shall know the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). He later tells the Jews, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). On the 8th day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the day that the Jews pray for water from heaven, he states, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37).
Jesus used the culture, events, and situations the Jews were living in to teach truth according to their ability to understand. This is important to emphasize. The Jews understood the meaning of the events they were celebrating. On the day that they were to pray for rain, this the final day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus proclaimed his Divine Sonship (John 7:37-38, John 8:58). He announced that he was the one who supplied living water. How many times does the Lord give us answers to prayer that are right in front of us?
John 7 ends with Nicodemus challenging the Jews’ reasoning. He said, “Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?” (John 7:51) These verses illustrate ways to make decisions easier. Do we wait until we have more information before making decisions? Do we base our decision on the first appearances? Do we exercise faith, living the gospel principles before deciding if they are true? This is relevant for young people, and one of the main points of this story.
Contrasting truth and lies
In John 8 we see the situation Jesus faced with the woman taken in adultery. The scribes and Pharisees tried to trap Jesus with the Law of Moses’ edict that a woman taken in adultery should be stoned (Leviticus 20:10). Jesus did not condone her sin, but extended mercy, with a command that she “sin no more” (John 8:11). It is at this point in the narrative that Jesus proclaims that he is “the light of the world” (John 8:12). It was at this time of the feast that giant candelabras were lit in the temple court. They were fifty cubits (75 feet) in height. It was said that there was no courtyard in Jerusalem that was not lit up with the light which came from these candelabras. The connection cannot be missed. Jesus proclaimed himself the light of the world when these lights were created to emphasize his mission and message. This is powerful imagery.
Jesus spent time explaining to the Jews that their pedigree does not make them righteous. They assumed that since they were children of Abraham, that they have special status, while at the same time they were plotting to kill Jesus. Jesus explained that we are a culmination of our decisions. In other words, faith is not an inheritance, but rather it is a choice. He states, “Ye do the deeds of your father” (John 8:41). “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44). “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham” (John 8:39). This is an important truth: we need to see ourselves as we really are. Only when we do this can we make the changes necessary to come unto Christ. This is a necessary part of our spiritual growth. Those that are close to us can give us appropriate feedback on where we need to improve. As we see ourselves as we really are, we can make decisions in our lives that will improve our situations as well as bless the lives of those around us. We can become true disciples of Jesus Christ.
This teaching is put into effect
It is in John 9 where we see a miracle that brings everything together. In this chapter, a man blind from his birth is healed, but his physical healing is only half the story. He advances from not knowing Jesus (John 9:12) to testifying that Jesus is a prophet (John 9:17) to finally believing that Jesus is the Son of God (John 9:38).
Contrast his spiritual sight to that of his parents. When asked who healed their son, they said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind, but by what means he now seeth, we know not: he is of age; ask him… these words spake his parents because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue” (John 9:20-22). Fearing the social consequences of following Jesus, the healed man’s parents chose to feign ignorance of the circumstances of his healing. Teenagers can relate with this. It is tempting at times to “check your religion at the door” for fear of looking bad in front of others.
Standing up for what is right helps others to see. Although it is not in the text, it is safe to assume that this young man affected the testimony of his parents. Seeing the pattern in these chapters helps us see that Jesus teaches us how to make decisions. By seeing ourselves from the perspective of heaven (John 8:39-45), gathering all of the information (John 7:50-51), and not fearing what others think (John 9:22-23), we can make wise choices. These chapter help teenagers see how to make good decisions.