Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. – John 7:16-17
Even this early in the narrative of John’s Gospel Jesus was very unpopular with the religious leaders. They were talking about killing Him. So to avoid the many problems that accompany being hated by those in influence, the Lord chose not to go up to the yearly Feast of Tabernacles openly. Instead He mingled with the crowds until the middle of the Feast. At that point He began ministering, teaching, and performing miracles.
It is most important that we understand that Jesus was always referring to Himself; not indeed out of an inflated ego, but because He was Who He was. It is also important that we understand how strongly Jesus drew the connection between Himself and His words and the work of God the Father upon the earth. Did you want to see God at work? Watch Jesus among the people. Did you want to hear God teaching? Stop and listen to Jesus.
And this is what makes this passage so illuminating. Jesus was at the center of a discussion about His remarkable teaching gifts: “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” (Jn. 7:15). in reply to the hubbub that the question created, Jesus spoke these extraordinary words of verses 16 and 17. If I may paraphrase Him a little, Jesus asserted that the words at which everybody marveled (and which the soldiers who were sent to arrest Him were astounded by in verse 46), were the very words of God. Moreover, the things that He was teaching to the people were from God. We can be sure that the teaching of Jesus made a stark contrast to the formulaic and lifeless teaching of the priests and rabbis.
But it was not just the effect of hearing what the Lord said that proved that He was sent from God. Jesus offered a proof that His doctrine was divine.
If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.
Again, but with a wider paraphrase: “I am not merely speaking to you as another teacher with great oratory skills. No, My doctrine comes from Heaven, and the sure way to know that is by putting what I say into practice.”
This is Christ telling us that God moves when we move. That is to say, when we do what He tells us we should do, His grace and power acts with us, supporting our efforts, meager as they may be. There is also that that sense of moral rightness which accompanies Christ-likeness; when we humble ourselves; when we put God first by hallowing His Name; when we think of others before ourselves; when we do good works in His Name, etc.
The teaching of Jesus comports with Heaven and Earth, with the soul and the body, and with love and Truth. It always bears good fruit. It always magnifies the One Who gave it.