John 7 – At the Feast of Tabernacles
A. Jesus goes up to Jerusalem in secret.
1. (1-2) In Galilee as the Feast of Tabernacles approaches.
After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand.
a. He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him: It was not a lack of courage that made Jesus stay in Galilee, but an awareness of the Father’s perfect timing – and it was not time yet for Him to be arrested and delivered to the Gentiles.
b. Feast of Tabernacles: This was a joyful, weeklong celebration in September or October when families camped out in temporary shelters to remember God’s faithfulness to Israel in the wilderness on the way from Egypt to Canaan under Moses.
i. “The Hebrews called it the festival of booths (sukkoth), because for the full week that it lasted people lived in makeshift booths of branches and leaves (cf. Leviticus 23:40-43); town-dwellers erected them in their courtyards or on their flat housetops.” (Bruce)
2. (3-5) The unbelief and opposition of the brothers of Jesus against Him.
His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” For even His brothers did not believe in Him.
a. His brothers therefore said to Him: Some are surprised to read that the Bible says Jesus had brothers, but this is one plain reference. John already mentioned the brothers of Jesus at John 2:12, and Matthew wrote of the brothers of Jesus at Matthew 12:46-47. In Matthew 13:55-56, the sisters of Jesus were described.
i. “Our blessed Lord, it is true, was her first born, while she was yet a virgin; but no man can prove that he was her last. It is an article of faith, in the Popish Church, to believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary; and in this respect, without any reason, several Protestants seem to be Papists.” (Clarke)
b. Go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that you are doing . . . If You do these things, show Yourself to the world: Jesus’ brothers told Him to prove Himself the Messiah on a bigger platform, Jerusalem – the center of Judaism.
i. The people of Jerusalem often looked down on the Jews of Galilee. Since Jesus did most of His miraculous works there, it gave the religious leaders in Jerusalem another reason to say that Jesus wasn’t the Messiah, because He didn’t do most of His work in front of the right audience.
ii. “It was widely believed that when the Messiah came he would make himself publically known in some spectacular way.” (Bruce) The Living Bible gives a good sense of this: You can’t be famous when you hide like this! If you’re so great, prove it to the world!
iii. “They imagined His glory to be limited to demonstrations of His miraculous powers, whereas in reality it could only be supremely displayed by His crucifixion.” (Tasker)
iv. “His brethren were thinking that His success depended on the world’s attitude to Him: in other words, they believed in the world rather than in Him.” (Trench)
c. For even His brothers did not believe in Him: Remarkably, the brothers of Jesus never seemed to be supportive of His ministry before His death and resurrection, (see also Mark 3:21). After His resurrection the brothers of Jesus were numbered among the disciples (Acts 1:14).
i. “This does not mean that they did not believe He wrought miracles, but that they had not submitted to His claim to be Messiah.” (Dods)
ii. “Many a man faced with cruel opposition in public life has been sustained by the faith and faithfulness of his kith and kin. Jesus was denied this solace.” (Morris)
iii. “The emphatic expression, for even his brethren, &c., is a strong corroboration of the view that they were really and literally brethren.” (Alford)
3. (6-9) Jesus’ reply: we are of different worlds.
Then Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.” When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee.
a. My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready: Because Jesus was completely submitted to the will of the Father, the timing of God the Father was important. The brothers of Jesus were not submitted to God’s will in the same way, so any time was fine with them.
i. My time: “In this passage the word is kairos, which characteristically means an opportunity; that is, the best time to do something, the moment when circumstances are most suitable.” (Barclay)
ii. As Jesus obeyed His Father, He lived out the truth that God’s timing is an important expression of His will. Something may be in God’s will but not yet in His timing.
b. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil: The brothers of Jesus agreed with the common opinions of their day about good and evil – therefore the world could not hate them. Jesus boldly confronted the sins of His age, and was therefore the target of much hatred.
i. The world cannot hate you: “There is no danger of your incurring the world’s hatred by anything you do or say; because your wishes and actions are in the world’s own spirit.” (Dods)
c. I am not yet going up to the feast: Some compare this statement with what it says in John 7:10 (He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret) as if they caught Jesus in a lie. Schopenhauer, the German philosopher of pessimism, pompously wrote: “Jesus Christ of set purpose did utter a falsehood.” (Barclay) But Christians have observed for centuries that if Jesus said He would not go publicly as to attract attention (as His brothers wanted), but that did not preclude Him from going up privately.
4. (10-13) Jesus goes up to Jerusalem, where many secretly discuss Him.
But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, “Where is He?” And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, “He is good”; others said, “No, on the contrary, He deceives the people.” However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews.
a. When His brothers had gone up, then he also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret: Jesus did not go with His brothers in one of the large processions of travelers from Galilee to Jerusalem at feast time. He went after them, traveling alone – almost (as it were) in secret.
i. Not openly: “Not in the usual caravan-company, nor probably by the usual way.” (Alford) “That is to say, He went up, but not at His brothers’ instigation, nor with the publicity they had recommended.” (Dods)
ii. “The secret departure for Jerusalem was not an act of deception. It was an attempt to avoid unwelcome publicity. Jesus’ enemies were watching for him, obviously for the purpose of arresting him.” (Tenney)
b. There was much complaining among the people concerning Him: They complained because they wanted Jesus to fulfill their wishes for the Messiah, and to fulfill them now – when they wanted them.
c. Some said, “He is good”; others said, “No, on the contrary, He deceives the people”: Then as well as now, Jesus divides people. Those who heard Him and knew Him couldn’t remain neutral. They decided one way or another regarding who Jesus was, either good or a deceiver.
d. However, no one spoke openly of Him: They religious leaders did not want people to talk about Jesus at all. The common people feared some penalty of problem from the religious leaders if they were heard speaking openly of Jesus.
i. “Whether they approved of disapproved of him, they did not voice their opinions too loudly or too publicly. The authorities did not wish him to be discussed at all, and any one who disregarded their wishes was liable to feel their displeasure.” (Bruce)
B. Jesus answers objections and teaches.
1. (14-18) The religious leaders object that Jesus isn’t educated.
Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.”
a. Jesus went up into the temple and taught: Though Jesus avoided a grand entrance, when He came to Jerusalem in His Father’s timing, He taught boldly. He never shrank back from proclaiming the truth.
b. How does this Man know letters, having never studied: The Jewish leaders knew that Jesus had not studied or been a disciple under a prominent rabbi (as Paul studied under Gamaliel, Acts 22:3). Jesus did not follow the normal and expected course of education for a teacher.
i. The sense of know letters is “Particularly, scripture-learning – perhaps because this was all the literature of the Jews. Probably His teaching consisted in exposition of the Scripture.” (Alford) “His skill in interpreting Scripture and His knowledge of it is what is referred to.” (Dods)
ii. If they could have condemned Jesus on some false doctrine or wrong understanding of Scripture, they would have. Since they could not, the attack the credentials of Jesus. “These words are spoken in the true bigotry and prejudice of so-called ‘learning.'” (Alford)
c. My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me: Jesus didn’t point to His credentials, but to His doctrine. It was as if He said, “I don’t have a seminary degree, but judge Me by My doctrine.” If the Jewish leaders listened carefully to the doctrine of Jesus, they would know that it was all rooted in the Old Testament Scriptures, and that it was from God.
i. “Our blessed Lord, in the character of Messiah, might as well say, My doctrine is not mine, as an ambassador might say, I speak not my own words, but his who sent me: and he speaks these words to draw the attention of the Jews from the teaching of man to the teaching of God.” (Clarke)
d. My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me: Jesus was an eloquent, gifted teacher, but He was not self taught; Jesus was God taught. His authority was not from any man, but from His Father.
i. Jesus didn’t claim to be self-taught; He claimed to be God-taught, practically inviting His listeners to examine His teachings according to the Scriptures.
ii. There is a great spiritual principle behind the words, If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine. “Spiritual understanding is not produced solely by learning facts or procedures, but rather it depends on obedience to known truth.” (Tenney)
e. He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him: Jesus contrasted Himself with the one who speaks from himself and who seeks his own glory. Jesus was different.
· Jesus sought the glory of God.
· Jesus is true.
· Jesus has no unrighteousness in Him.
i. In a sense, Jesus gave us two measure of a true teacher.
· Does the teaching come from God? That is, is it according to the revealed Word of God?
· Does the work give glory to God?
2. (19-24) The people object that Jesus is crazy, and has a demon.
“Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” The people answered and said, “You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill You?” Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel. Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
a. None of you keeps the law: Jesus just stated that He was absolutely sinless and true, always seeking the glory of God in heaven (John 7:18). In contrast to Jesus, the religious leaders did not keep the law. They had the law (Did not Moses give you the law), but did not keep it.
b. Why do you seek to kill Me? In following the thought of Jesus, He said something like this: “I am sinless and none of you keep the law. Why then do you seek to kill Me? You are the ones guilty under the law, not I.”
c. You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill You? The people didn’t know that the rulers wanted to kill Jesus because He healed a man on the Sabbath (John 5:16). They thought Jesus was crazy and perhaps paranoid.
d. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken: It was permitted – even commanded – to do a negative work on the Sabbath, such as cutting away the flesh in circumcision (Leviticus 12:3). It was even more right to make a man completely well on the Sabbath, as Jesus did (John 5:8-9).
i. “If you may wound a man on the sabbath-day, may not I heal one?” (Trapp)
e. Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment: They decided that Jesus appeared to be a sinner, and they appeared to be righteous. They were wrong each time, and they needed to judge with righteous judgment instead of only by appearances.
i. “No righteous judgment can be come to if appearances decide.” (Dods) The iconic figure of Justice has a blindfold for this reason.
ii. “We should ever bear in mind that that ‘appearance’ may be deceitful, and therefore with the love that hopeth all things, we should be ready to give men the benefit of any doubt or any uncertainty that is in our minds.” (Morgan)
3. (25-29) The people of Jerusalem object that Jesus could not be the Messiah because they know where He came from.
Now some of them from Jerusalem said, “Is this not He whom they seek to kill? But look! He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ? However, we know where this Man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from.” Then Jesus cried out, as He taught in the temple, saying, “You both know Me, and you know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me.”
a. Is this not He whom they seek to kill? The people from Jerusalem knew that the religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus. The crowd that came for the feast did not know it (John 7:20), but those from Jerusalem did. Yet they were amazed that the rulers would not and could not stop Jesus from teaching.
b. He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him: Jesus was never afraid or intimidated by the threats against Him. He still spoke boldly, and with such boldness that no one could make Him stop.
c. We know where this Man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from: Many (but not all) of the Jews of that time believed the Messiah would appear suddenly, as if out of nowhere.
i. Malachi 3:1 says that God’s messenger will come suddenly to the temple. This was the kind of saying that made them think the Messiah would come out of nowhere to show Himself to Israel.
ii. Popular belief “held that the Messiah would appear. The idea was that he was waiting concealed and some day would burst suddenly upon the world and no one would know where he had come from.” (Barclay)
iii. We know where this Man is from: We don’t know if the people thought, this Man comes from Bethlehem or this Man comes from Nazareth. They probably associated Jesus with Nazareth (Jesus of Nazareth).
d. You both know Me, and you know where I am from: This first sentence of Jesus’ reply may well have been sarcastic. They thought they knew where He was from, but they were unaware of His heavenly origin.
i. “He agrees that they know Him and that they know where he came from, but this is almost certainly ironical: ‘So you know me and my origin!'” (Morris)
e. I am from Him, and He sent Me: The crowds were perhaps confused about where the Messiah would come from, but Jesus knew exactly where He came from. Jesus was not a confused man, wondering if He was really the Son of God.
i. “The language is simple and unambiguous; the claim is august. Jesus asserts afresh his unique relation to the Father, and his hearers cannot miss the implication of his words.” (Bruce)
4. (30-36) The officers try to arrest Jesus as many believe in Him.
Therefore they sought to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. And many of the people believed in Him, and said, “When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?” The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things concerning Him, and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him. Then Jesus said to them, “I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me. You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come.” Then the Jews said among themselves, “Where does He intend to go that we shall not find Him? Does He intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? What is this thing that He said, ‘You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come’?”
a. No one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come: Until the time was right, no one could lay a hand on Jesus. There would come a time when Jesus would say that His hour had come (John 12:23). Until that hour, Jesus was protected.
i. The arresting officers wantedto take Him, but they couldn’t. It just wouldn’t happen. When the officers returned to the religious leaders empty handed – no arrested Jesus with them – their bosses wanted to know why. They answered, No man ever spoke like this Man! (John 7:46)
b. Many of the people believed in Him: As Jesus spoke to the people, they were drawn to faith in Him. It didn’t matter that many opposed Him or even wanted to kill Him. Jesus made public was Jesus believed upon, and they marveled at the many signs that He did.
i. They spoke with clear logic when they asked, “When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?” It is fair to ask, who has done more than Jesus?
ii. If Jesus isn’t the Messiah, then when Messiah comes, will he…
· Do more miracles than Jesus?
· Teach with more insight and authority than Jesus?
· Love more remarkably than Jesus?
· Suffer with more courage than Jesus?
· Atone for more sinners than Jesus?
· Raise from the dead with more triumph than Jesus?
· Ascend to heaven in greater glory than Jesus?
· Present a greater Gospel than Jesus?
· Change more lives than Jesus?
· Free more addictions than Jesus?
· Comfort more grief-stricken hearts than Jesus?
· Heal more broken hearts than Jesus?
· Restore more marriages than Jesus?
· Triumph over more tyrants than Jesus?
· Gain more followers than Jesus?
iii. None of this is possible. No one can do more than Jesus did, and He deserves all our confidence, life, and faith as Messiah.
c. I shall be with you a little while longer: As the religious leaders sent officers to take Him, Jesus assured the officers that He would go away, but only at the appointed time – at His ascension (I go to Him who sent Me). They would not take Him away at the present time.
i. “To the officers the saying is an exhibition of His triumphant confidence that their malice is impotent and their arms paralysed; that when He wills He will go, not be dragged by them or any man.” (Maclaren)
d. Does He intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks: Jesus spoke of His coming ascension to heaven, but they didn’t understand. Willfully misunderstanding, they asked if He would go away to the Jewish communities outside the Promised Land.
i. “The Jews understood not his death to be meant, but some journey which He would take in the event of their rejecting Him.” (Alford)
ii. “Little did the speakers know that, while Jesus was not to go in person among the Greeks, his followers would be numbered in the tens of thousands in the Greek lands in a few years’ time.” (Bruce)
e. You will seek Me and not find Me: Remarkably, they exactly repeated what Jesus previously said. This statement troubled them, and they wanted to know what Jesus meant. He meant that He would not be found by the hostile examiner, those intending to arrest, silence, or kill Him.
5. (37-39) The great invitation: If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
a. On the last day, that great day of the feast: The Feast of Tabernacles lasted eight days. All through the first seven days water from the Pool of Siloam was carried in a golden pitcher and poured out at the altar to remind everyone of the water God miraculously provided for a thirsty Israel in the wilderness. It seems that on the eighth day there was no pouring of water – only prayers for water – to remind them that they came into the Promised Land.
i. “But the eighth day was not properly one of the feast days; the people ceased to dwell in the tabernacles on the seventh day. Philo says of it that it was the solemn conclusion, not of that feast alone, but of all the feasts in the year.” (Alford)
ii. This was the last feast-time Jesus would spend in Jerusalem before the Passover of His death. This was the last day of the last feast; the last time He would speak to many of them before His crucifixion.
b. Jesus stood and cried out: What Jesus was about to say was of great importance.
· Important because of where He said it (standing in the temple courts, right outside the temple itself).
· Important because of when He said it (at the last day of Tabernacles, after water had been poured out on the previous days).
· Important because of how He said it (crying out, even shouting – in contrast to the general tone of His ministry, according to Isaiah 42:2: He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street).
c. If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink: The celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles emphasized how God provided water to Israel in the wilderness on their way to Canaan. Jesus boldly called people to Himself to drink and satisfy their deepest thirst, their spiritual thirst.
i. The invitation was broad because it said, if anyone. Intelligence, race, class, nationality, or political party don’t limit it. The invitation was narrow because it said, if anyone thirsts. One must see their need. Thirst is not anything in itself; it is a lack of something. It is an emptiness, a crying need.
ii. There is dispute among commentators as to if Jesus said this as water was being poured out, or if He did it on the day when no water was poured out. It is perhaps impossible to be certain, but John’s emphasis on the last day probably indicates that Jesus meant to show a contrast. “There’s no more water at the temple and in the rituals we love. I have the water you’re looking for.”
iii. “On the eighth day no water was poured, and this would make Jesus’ claim all the more impressive.” (Morris)
iv. “On the eighth day, which commemorated their entrance into ‘a land of springs of water,’ this ceremony was discontinued. But the deeper spirits must have viewed with some misgiving all this ritual, feeling still in themselves a thirst which none of these symbolic forms quenched.” (Dods)
d. He who believes in Me: Jesus explained what He meant by the metaphor of drinking. To come to Jesus and to drink was essentially to put one’s faith into Him; to trust in, rely on, and cling to Jesus for both time and eternity.
i. “Then thou art told to drink. That is not a difficult action. Any fool can drink: in fact, many are great fools because they drink too much of poisonous liquors. Drinking is peculiarly the common-place act of sinners.” (Spurgeon)
e. Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water: For the one who does believe in Him, Jesus offered a perpetual river of living water out of His innermost being. Tabernacles also looked forward to the prophecies of water flowing from the throne and from Jerusalem where Messiah would be enthroned. Essentially Jesus said, “Put your loving trust in Me, enthrone Me in your heart, and life and abundance will flow out.”
i. “The Greek is, ‘out of his belly’, i.e. ‘from his innermost being’.” (Morris)
ii. Jesus did not only speak of something coming into a person, but something flowing out of them as well. It was not only a blessing received, but also becoming a source of blessing to others.
iii. “He was able to satisfy thirst, and, moreover, that those who received such satisfaction from Him should become channels through whom the overflowing rivers should pass.” (Morgan)
iv. As the Scripture has said: “Though no specific passage of Scripture is quoted, this would in fact be a fulfillment of such prophecies as that of Zechariah that one day a fountain would be open to the house of David, and living waters would go out from Jerusalem (Zechariah 13:1, 14:8); and of Isaiah that God would pour water upon the thirsty (Isaiah 44:3, 55:1).” (Tasker)
f. This He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive: This outflowing life and abundance comes in and through the presence of the Spirit in the life of the believer. This speaks of an experience that belongs to those believing in Him. The nature of that experience may differ among believers, but there is some aspect of it that is promised to all who will receive it by faith.
i. “The Jerusalem Talmud connects the ceremonies and this scripture with the Holy Spirit: ‘Why is the name of it called, The drawing out of water? Because of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, according to what is said: “With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.”‘” (Morris)
ii. “It is a blessed thing to preach the work of Jesus Christ, but it is an evil thing to omit the work of the Holy Ghost; for the work of the Lord Jesus itself is no blessing to that man who does not know the work of the Holy Spirit.” (Spurgeon)
g. For the Holy Spirit was not yet given: This outflowing life and abundance could not come yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified – that is, glorified on the cross and through resurrection. This giving of the Holy Spirit for the people of God could not happen until Jesus completed His work at the cross and the empty tomb.
i. Translators have added the word given. More literally it is “for it was not yet Spirit.” John tells us that it was not yet Pentecost and the days of the Spirit. “The word implied is not exactly ‘given,’ but rather ‘working,’ or some similar word…the dispensation of the Spirit was not yet.” (Alford)
ii. “It is a point repeated in this Gospel that the Spirit could not come during the time of Christ’s earthly ministry. But when the work was consummated the Spirit was given.” (Morris)
C. The crowd questions, the religious leaders reject.
1. (40-43) Jesus brings division among the crowd.
Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” So there was a division among the people because of Him.
a. This is the Prophet . . . This is the Christ: Some said one thing, others said something else about who Jesus was; but everyone had an opinion. They could not be confronted with Jesus and remain truly neutral. If someone pretended to be neutral, they were really against Him.
i. This is the Prophet: “Some no doubt knew that by the prophet, the Messiah was meant; but others seem to have thought that one of the ancient prophets should be raised from the dead, and precede the appearing of the Messiah.” (Clarke)
b. Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Some rejected Jesus because they were ignorant, not knowing the truth about Him. These ones did not know that Jesus was really born in Bethlehem, even though they knew the prophecies about Jesus being born in Bethlehem.
i. “The preposition rendered ‘out of’ refers to birth and origin, not to residence.” (Trench)
ii. “The very passage that convinced his critics that he could not be the Messiah was one of the strongest to prove that he was.” (Tenney)
iii. “Are you the one who has been rejecting Jesus Christ on a quibble? Do you refuse to come because you cannot understand where Cain got his wife? Or how God can punish sinners? Or why we are to believe in a virgin birth or a resurrection?” (Boice)
c. So there was a division among the people because of Him: During the days of His earthly work, Jesus divided people. People could not truly be of two opinions about Jesus, so some would be for Him while others would be against Him.
i. “The word rendered division implies a violent dissension – some taking up His cause, some wishing to lay hands on Him.” (Alford)
ii. The division didn’t come because Jesus spoke foolishly, or because He spoke on a theologically controversial topic. He spoke about Himself, the Messiah – and He spoke clearly, not in dark mysterious sayings.
iii. Jesus repeated this idea in Matthew 10:34-36: Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to “set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law”; and “a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.”
iv. Such division should never exist among the followers of Jesus. “We can sometimes even fight with one another for what we believe to be the truth, and rebuke each other to the face if we think there is an error; but when it comes to Christ and his dear cross, give me thy hand, brother. You are washed in the blood, and so am I. You are resting in Christ, and so am I. You have put all your hope in Jesus; and that is where all my hope is, and therefore we are one. Yes, there is no real division among the true people of God because of Christ.” (Spurgeon)
2. (44-49) The failure of an attempted arrest of Jesus.
Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him. Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?” The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.”
a. Some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him: The arrest was unsuccessful, but it wasn’t because the arresting officers were incompetent. It was because the time wasn’t right yet, and it was impossible for Jesus to be stopped until it was right in the Father’s timing.
b. No man ever spoke like this Man! These officers of the temple had heard many rabbis teach, but they never heard someone speak like Jesus. They were so impressed by the message of Jesus that they found it impossible to do their assigned work of arresting and silencing Him.
i. ” ‘Never did any man talk in this fashion.’ In the Greek the word ‘man’ (anthropos) occurs in the emphatic position at the end of the sentence and implies by contrast that he must be more than an ordinary human being.” (Tenney)
ii. “Their testimony was expressed in few and simple words, but it has stood the test of nineteen centuries.” (Bruce)
c. Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed: The pride of the religious leaders was plain, as was their despising of the common people. They hoped to shame and intimidate the officers who didn’t arrest Jesus with the idea all the smart and spiritual people don’t follow Jesus – neither should you.
i. “The religious snobbishness of the rulers was revealed in their contemptuous dismissal of the guards’ testimony.” (Tenney)
ii. “The Pharisees had a phrase by which they described the ordinary, simple people who did not observe the thousands of regulations of the ceremonial law. They called them the People of the Land; to them they were beneath contempt.” (Barclay)
iii. “Even the liberal Rabbi Hillel, of the generation before Christ, summed up this attitude when he said, ‘No member of the common people is pious.'” (Bruce)
3. (50-52) The reaction to Nicodemus’ small stand for Jesus.
Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” They answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.”
a. Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing: Nicodemus tried to reason with the religious leaders, warning them against judging Jesus hastily.
b. Are you also from Galilee: The religious leaders who lived in Jerusalem and Judea despised the people of Galilee, and often mocked them. To these religious leaders from Judea, nothing good could come from Galilee.
c. Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee: They were wrong. In fact, a prophet had risen from Galilee. Jonah (who was a picture of Jesus Christ) came from Gath Hepher, which was three miles north of Nazareth in Lower Galilee (2 Kings 14:25).
i. “The way the question is introduced in the original conveys a marked note of surprise; ‘Why surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee?'” (Tasker)
ii. “It was not historically true; – for two prophets at least had arisen from Galilee: Jonah of Gathhepher, and the greatest of the prophets, Elijah of Thisbe; and perhaps also Nahum and Hosea. Their contempt for Galilee made them lose sight of historical accuracy.” (Alford)
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