at the Light through John - Chapter 7
When the viewer is close, the high peaks are
often obscured by lower foothills. Only distance and elevation
put the picture in perspective, and then the foothills are
dwarfed by the magnificence of the majestic massifs which stand
behind them. And so it is in the relationship of man to men.
Proximity obscures the greatness of the truly great in the eyes
of his close associates and his contemporaries; only the distance
of time and the elevation of history make it possible for the
outstanding character, signal achievements, and history-altering
insights of some men to be evident amidst the range of normal of
activities of their bedfellows in time.
Into the mix of men came the Lord Jesus; the
Word dwelt "among us" (John 1:14).
Those who were closest to him, the children of Joseph and Mary,
had a hard time seeing His greatness. His contemporaries among
the Jews were openly contemptuous, eventually putting Him to
death. The small-minded and short-sighted have always despised
glimmerings of greatness in others, and have always done
everything they can to sabotage the positive progress that comes
through the insight and accomplishments of those rare individuals
who know what their purpose in history is, and who, by the grace
of God, can seize the day. Thus it was, in the ultimate degree,
with the blessed Lord Jesus.
- Resistance in Judea The
center of resistance to the efforts of the Christ was
always Jerusalem. Here the good ol boys had their
interwoven establishment, and here they had cemented
their working arrangements with the Romans. After three
years of ministry, Jesus had begun to make His mark, and
the good ol boys amongst the Pharisees and
Sadducees were not about to let this upstart from Galilee
rock their carefully moored boat. "After these
things Jesus was walking in Galilee," was the
apostle Johns account, "for He was unwilling
to walk in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill
Him" (John 7:1). The short-sighted think they can stop the
movements begun by the insights of the great by killing
them. By definition the short-sighted dont see very
well, and in consequence those in Jerusalem were unable
to recognize that their efforts to quash the progress of
Jesus by snuffing Him would accomplish nothing at all.
- Feast of Tabernacles
"Now the feast of the Jews," noted John,
"the Feast of Booths, was at hand" (John 7:2). This was the third of the original feasts
ordained by God when the children of Israel made their
exodus from Egypt. It was the feast of the end of the
harvest in late September or early October, when the last
of the grapes were brought in. During this feast, the
Israelites were to come to Jerusalem and live in booths
or tabernacles made of branches to commemorate their
forty years of wandering the in the wilderness and their
deliverance into the promised land.
- The brothers attitude
The brothers of Jesus had no comprehension of His
divinity. They knew that He had spent the last three
years out amongst the synagogues, but basically thought
His efforts were directly toward some earthly goal.
"His brothers therefore," noted the inspired
record of John, "said to Him, Depart from
here, and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may
behold Your works which You are doing. For no one does
anything in secret, when He Himself seeks to be known
publicly. If you do these things, show Yourself to the
world. " (John 7:3,4). They even questioned whether He was actually
doing the miracles, as John noted, "For not even His
brothers were believing in Him" (John 7:5).
The brothers may have been somewhat sincere in
the advice and encouragement they offered. But they were too
close to see Jesus greatness, and consequently unaware of
the great spiritual battle that was already raging. And their
advice, correspondingly, would have been dead wrong.
Because Jesus brothers did not believe in
Him and in what He was doing, He could not trust them. They gave
some good worldly advice, saying that if He really wanted to get
His movement going, He should set up His table and booth at the
big convention in Jerusalem. "For no one does anything in
secret, when he himself seeks to be known publicly," they
said. Such a strategy was based on their perception that Jesus
only wanted a share of the Jewish market; what they didnt
understand was that He eventually was going to destroy that
market and replace it with a superior system.
- A sense of timing In
warfare, timing is critical. In any war apparatus,
effective communications systems have to be set up within
the organization so that the timing can be right for the
operations to be carried out. The enemy likewise has to
be blocked out of the communications process; otherwise
the enemy knows precisely what is to be done and when,
and can have made appropriate preparations. Jesus, at
war, cant at this point even tell His brothers
clearly that He is at war. "Jesus therefore said to
them, My time is not yet at hand, but your time is
always opportune. " (John 7:6). That was His way of saying "Thanks, but
No thanks, " to their proposal. But
Jesus, the great Teacher, was always planting the seeds
for His harvest in peoples minds. Even though His
time was not quite yet at hand, He told them that their
time was always opportune. Now what could He have
possibly meant by that? That they could wake up and
believe that He was indeed the Son of God?
- Hints at warfare "The
world," He explained to them, "cannot hate you;
but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds
are evil" (John 7:7). The "world" is the philosophical
focus of unredeemed men wherein the things of earth are
of more importance than things of God. It may come in the
disguise of religious trappings, but if it runs counter
to the will of God as revealed in the sacred writings, it
is of the world nonetheless. And the world is at war with
God. Jesus brothers, because they still had an
earthly perspective, were not hated by the world. But
Jesus, in making His onslaught for the salvation of men,
was hated by the world because of His exposure of the
actual evil in which the world participated.
- Directive to His brothers
Having explained the hostility between Himself and the
world in particular the Jewish hierarchy
Jesus told His brothers to go on to Jerusalem without
Him. "Go up to the feast yourselves," He said.
"I do not go up to this feast because My time has
not yet fully come" (John 7:8). All male Jews were required to present
themselves to the Lord at the temple in Jerusalem on the
Feast days; implicit in the passage is that Jesus was
going up but not with His brothers.
- Going in disguise The Jewish
hierarchy in Jerusalem would kill Jesus if they could get
their hands on Him. Jesus therefore had to send His
brothers by themselves so that He could disguise Himself
and not be easily recognized. "And having said these
things to them," John commented, "He stayed in
Galilee. But when His brothers had gone up to the feast,
then He Himself also went up, but not publicly, but as it
were, in secret" (John 7:9,10).
The spiritual war was being waged under the
noses of Jesus brothers, but they had no comprehension of
the forces that were at work in the world to try to trap Jesus.
When His "time" had "fully come," then Jesus
would step out to meet those who would lead Him to His
crucifixion. Until then, He sent His brothers on ahead to
Jerusalem, leaving their heads ringing with the echoes of His
in the Mob
In spite of the efforts of the Pharisees and
Sadducees to silence Jesus, He had made a tremendous impact on
the Jewish people. In a rapid-paced three years, He had spoken in
synagogue after synagogue, performed numerous healings and
miracles, talked to small groups, and lectured large crowds. By
the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, 29 AD, there was a grass
roots curiosity about Jesus that no suppression from the top
could stop. But they had the pressure on, so that Jesus Himself
was compelled to go up to Jerusalem, "not publicly, but as
it were, in secret." In disguise, then, He approached the
- The hierarchy searched "The
Jews," the apostle John had noted earlier,
"were seeking to kill Him." Throughout his
account, the apostle uniformly uses "Jews" to
mean the ranking men of the leading Jewish factions, and
"multitudes" to refer to the Jewish people as a
whole. With their spies posted at every gate, the
hierarchy fretted and paced in concern for their
positions as they waited for Jesus next offensive
thrust which they were sure would take place when the
people all gathered for the Feast of Booths. "The
Jews therefore," recorded John in the inspired
register, "were seeking Him at the feast, and were
saying, Where is He? " (John 7:11).
- The multitudes argued Nearly
everyone gathered in Jerusalem had an opinion about
Jesus. As John would have walked through the throngs in
the city and in the temple area, he would have seen small
knots of men engaged in intense discussion about the
events of the last several years and expressing their
viewpoints about the coming kingdom of God. "And
there was much grumbling among the multitudes concerning
Him," the apostle observed. "Some were saying,
He is a good man; others were saying,
No, on the contrary, He leads the multitude
astray. " (John 7:12). But the crowd must have been aware that the
chief priests and elders had their secret police working
through the mob and looking for clues about the Christ.
"Yet no one was speaking openly of Him," states
the record, "for fear of the Jews" (John 7:13).
- Jesus acted The first day of
the feast came and went, and what did the spies for the
hierarchy have to report? Nothing. The second day came
and went, and? Nothing. The third day? The same. The
tension was building. "But when it was now the midst
of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began to
teach" (John 7:14). The tension broke a little for the Jews
trying to protect their positions, but because Jesus was
in disguise, they didnt recognize Him.
- The Jews questioned The
Lords teaching, as might be expected, was deep and
powerful. Not knowing who He was, "The Jews
therefore were marveling, saying, How has this man
become learned, having never been educated? "
(John 7:15). Now they think they have another man on
their hands doing unauthorized teaching who has not come
up through their system.
People talk about what is important or
interesting to them. The Almighty would rather have multitudes
discussing the pros and cons of various points concerning the
kingdom of God than arguing which of the daytime television
programs has the best plot. The Lord knew, as John recorded in
His account, that He was making progress among the people when He
was the topic of discussion at the Feast of Tabernacles. Even
though some thought He was leading the multitude astray, He would
have been excited to know that His ministry and message were
having sufficient impact that He was being discussed by the
common people and opposed by the chief priests and elders.
Progress comes at a price. Rejoice when the
spiritual revolution becomes the topic of conversation. You can
measure your effectiveness by the size of your enemies.
Jesus was making progress, and His time would
fully come just six months later at the Feast of Passover, 30 AD.
The Mark of a True Teacher
Those who are in the educational establishment
are in business. They are not neutral, nor have they ever been
neutral. Anyone who goes into education has a message, a mission,
or agenda, and he does not quit his field at a slight challenge.
And those of the modern educational establishment work hard to
promote their overall system; thus those who have not purchased
Ph.D.s at their price and from their system are not
regarded as really educated or qualified to speak on a specified
topic. They have it set up so that all education has to flow
through their institutions and thus ensure the continuation of
their "business," and that money continues to flow from
tax coffers to the flood of their brainwashing citadels.
So it was in Jesus day. When He showed up
incognito in the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles, those of
that societys educational establishment were greatly
surprised at His message and delivery. "How has this man
become learned," they asked, "having never been
educated?" It wasnt that He hadnt been educated;
it was just that He hadnt been educated in their recognized
institutions and by their rabbis. He had learned in the local
synagogue where He grew up, and He especially had become learned
by reading and memorizing His Bible.
- The source of His teaching The
Master of the Universe has not been silent all these
years. He used to walk with Adam and Eve in the Garden,
and when that intimacy was severed, He still used to
communicate to those early patriarchs. By Jesus
day, the message of God through Moses and the Prophets
was firmly in place in Israel, and foreshadowed and
prophesied the very Messiah Himself in their words.
"Jesus therefore answered them," referenced
John, in regard to Jesus speaking to those who
would scorn His educational background, "and said,
My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.
" (John 7:16). The Christ was making the claim that He
taught nothing but what He was sent to teach by the
Father. His attire was one of being unrecognizable; but
His teaching garnered their attention.
- Learning by doing Jesus is
recorded here as making one of the most powerful and
basic statements of the scripture. "If any man is
willing to do His will," stated the Lord, in regard
to the will of the Father, "he shall know of the
teaching, whether it is of God, of whether I speak from
Myself" (John 7:17). The only way anyone is going to be able to
understand the depths and insights of the Word of God is
by actually doing the things which are commended. The
Bible is not a theoretical book; it is a practical guide
to living a victorious life, to carrying the gospel to
the lost in the midst of awesome opposition and
persecution. Only those who live in such a way will know
of the teaching, that it really comes from the Father
- Glory hounds "He who
speaks from himself seeks his own glory," is the
analysis of the Lord Jesus, "but He who is seeking
the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there
is no unrighteousness in Him" (John 7:18). Men who make up their own doctrines and
insert their opinions under the covering of teaching
scripture are in fact seeking their own glory. (The saint
would do well to lodge this fact away in the recesses of
his mind as a reference point in analyzing all who claim
to teach the word of God.) Jesus, by contrast, was only
seeking the glory of God, and consequently would only
teach that which the Father wanted taught.
Jesus did not come up through the established
organs of Judaism, having a piece of paper on His wall
proclaiming Him to be a certified rabbi. But His teaching came
from God in accordance with what was written in the sacred word;
it was clear that He, as a true teacher sent from above, sought
no glory but what would accrue to the Father in heaven. May we so
The Jewish hierarchy had its agenda; the people
as a whole the multitude were unaware of the
conspiracy to destroy Jesus and anyone who taught the same things
as He did. In disguise at the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall of
29 AD, Jesus was teaching with insights and depth unfamiliar to
the ranking rabbis of Judaism. At their outcry over His lack of
proper credentials, the Lord simply challenged them actually to
apply the teachings to their personal lives in order to find out
whether He was a fake or in fact a teacher sent from God.
But the Lord Jesus was not willing to leave the
inquiry there in regard to His own teaching. The crowd was also,
in a slightly more subtle way, challenged to examine the
teachings of those others. "He who speaks from himself seeks
his own glory," was the astute observation of the Maker of
men, "but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent
Him is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him" (John 7:18).
- The untrue and the unrighteous The
implication of the Christ was clear; since He was true
and righteous, seeking only the glory of His Father, His
detractors were untrue and unrighteous. This exposure
produced a seething, smoldering resentment in the breasts
of those who had seated themselves in the chair of Moses.
- Re-introducing Moses Moses
was the main man according to the rabbis of the day,
especially the Jewish traditions and mind-set that had
accumulated in Moses name. Jesus therefore issued
this judgment against "the Jews": "Did not
Moses give you the law, and yet none of you carries out
the law?" They were not keepers of the law, yet were
quick to condemn Him who was obviously the fulfillment of
the law and open to the scrutiny of anyone who would
"come and see."
- The coming killers Jesus,
who knew men and what was in the hearts of men, was not
bashful about exposing the intention of the rulers of the
Jewish people. After holding up the leaderships
lack of keeping the law in the presence of the multitude,
while at the same time proclaiming His innocence under
the law, the Lord then surfaced the hierarchys
plotting in the form of a question, "Why do you seek
to kill Me?" (John 7:19).
- Whos crazy here? The
multitude was unaware of the undercurrents in the power
game the rulers of the Jews were playing. So when Jesus
asked hierarchy why they were seeking to kill Him,
"the multitude answered, You have a demon! Who
seeks to kill You? " (John 7:20). The old saying is: "The uninformed are
easily misinformed." Jesus seemed to be crazy or
paranoid to the mob caught in the middle. The Christ, of
course, did not have a demon, and knew precisely what
course the powerbrokers were pursuing.
Mankind as a whole has its ambitions and
desires, and weaves its will through the fabric of societies,
customs, and mores of each localized group. Those of Jesus
time worked through Jewish society, bending the teachings of
Moses and the prophets to suit their will, willing to eliminate
the Son of God when He stood in their way.
Father, help us to learn the appropriate
lessons from these recorded conversations!
With Righteous Judgment
The incognito Jesus challenged the scribes and
Pharisees in the midst of the Feast of Tabernacles. They wanted
to know what His credentials for teaching were; He wanted to know
whether they were honest and kept the law of Moses. When the
answers to the honesty and law-keeping questions were
"negatory," then the Christ of God pointed out that
these self-righteous guardians of the gate were desirous of
killing Him. The crowd, involved in the exchange, wanted to know
who was seeking to put Him to death. Jesus to some degree brushed
the query aside to continue to work on the Jewish hierarchy, with
the crowd still participating in the proceedings.
- Circumcision and the Sabbath Over
the years the Jew had become so conditioned to custom and
law that in his mind circumcision and keeping the Sabbath
went together. "On this account Moses has given you
circumcision," the Lord reminded the teachers of
Israel, "not because it is from Moses, but from the
fathers" (John 7:22). Circumcision, as a physical sign of
Gods covenant with Abraham, was instituted some 500
years before God made the Sabbath as a sign of Gods
relationship with Israel (Ezekiel 20:12). Circumcision was from the patriarchs and
pre-dated the Law of Moses.
- Healing and the Sabbath When
Jesus began to systematically cure people on the Sabbath
following His healing of the man by the pool of Bethesda,
the Jewish leadership recognized His threat to their
authority and dominion. It was "the Jews" that
Jesus was addressing when He noted, "I did one deed
and you all marvel" (John 7:21), further explaining, "I made an entire
man well on the Sabbath" (John 7:23).
- The logic of Jesus position
Those who have an agenda are not interested in
truth, and are quite willing to use partial truths to
further their ends. These partial truths are often used
to manipulate the masses who only have, at best, a
general comprehension of what is really going on and do
not have the desire or the means to get at the bottom
line facts. In Jesus day, the entrenched power
structure was using Israels traditional look at the
Sabbath to destroy the Lords reputation. "On
the Sabbath you circumcise a man," noted the Savior.
To circumcise a baby boy on the eighth day following his
birth which in one out of seven times would fall
on a Sabbath was obviously some serious work, but
it was clear that this physical act to make him a part of
covenant people took precedence over the general
prohibitions of the Sabbath. Circumcision, in effect from
the time of Abraham, was thus incorporated into the Law
by Moses. The Lords logic, then, was this: "If
a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath that the Law
of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with Me because
I made an entire man well on the Sabbath?" (John 7:23).
- The Lords appeal Those
who have an agenda do not care how many people they have
to crush or trample to carry out their lawless plan.
Jesus loved the individual, knowing that making a person
whole and meeting His spiritual needs was more important
than mere external conformity. "Do not judge
according to appearance," He cried out, "but
judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24).
The battle goes on: show vs. substance. Those
who are interested in show judge according to appearance; those
who are interested in substance judge with righteous judgment.
"You Know Where I Am From"
Look deeper than the surface, Jesus appealed to
His hearers. "Do not judge according to appearance, but
judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24).
In a crowd different people are going to hear different things
because of what is important to each person. Many, preferring to
salve the conscience rather than cure the guilt, hear what sounds
good to them; as long as the show has the form of godliness, they
are satisfied. But there are a small percentage who ask the
probing questions, who are interested in the true power of
godliness rather than just holding to the form. Both types were
present at Jesus incognito appearance at the temple during
the Feast of Booths in the fall of 29 AD, and both had different
reactions to the comments of the Lord.
- The perception of some The
appeal of Jesus to judge with righteous judgment sparked
the thinking of some of the multitude present.
"Therefore," the apostle John concluded,
"some of the people of Jerusalem were saying,
Is this not the man whom they are seeking to
kill? " (John 7:25). The word had already spread about Jesus of
Nazareth, so much so that Christ had to come to Jerusalem
"not publicly, but in secret." A portion of the
populace was able to make the connection that the Man in
disguise with marvelous teaching was the same as the One
whom the hierarchy was trying to assassinate.
- Awed by His boldness The
perceptive ones were quick to note His intelligence and
boldness in being able to break through the spy network
of "the Jews" and teach the multitudes at the
fall festival. "And look," they exclaimed,
"He is speaking publicly, and they are saying
nothing to Him" (John 7:26). Like Zorro, He appeared in the midst of the
hostile hierarchy to the cheers of the common people.
- A recognition of who He was
Unfettered by pressure and able to look at the situation
objectively, these who saw substance were capable of
acknowledging the power of His miracles and the
spirituality of His teaching. "The rulers do not
really know that this is the Christ, do they?" was
their observation. They knew who He was, and they knew
that the Jewish leadership was blinded to this
- Some were still confused But
some disagreed with the conclusion that the more
insightful were able to draw about Jesus, that He was the
Christ. "However, we know where this man is
from," they voiced their objection, "but
whenever the Christ may come, no one knows where He is
from" (John 7:27). For us, looking backward into the Old
Testament, it is easy to see that the Christ according to
the flesh, the Shepherd-King, would be born in Bethlehem,
and that, as the Branch, would have grown up in Nazareth
of Galilee. But in their confusion, they had a vague
impression that the Christ came out of nowhere, so to
The Lord Jesus was appreciative of those who
were able to slice through the fog, some of which was
precipitated by the mass manipulators. But He gave no one an
excuse for not recognizing Him, as the apostle John notes in
using the word "therefore." "Jesus therefore cried
out in the temple, teaching and saying, You both know Me
and know where I am from
" (John 7:28).
In the ultimate sense, He came from heaven with words of eternal
The Teaching Tells The Tale
Some of the assemblage drew the conclusion that
the incognito Jesus was the Christ, but most languished in
confusion. Behind the scenes and lurking in wait were "the
Jews," the Sanhedrin and their representatives, looking to
turn the crowd against Him at any opportunity. In the temple, the
teaching Jesus cried out, pulling the perceptive heavenward in
their thinking. "You both know Me," He said, "and
know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who
sent Me is true, whom you do not know" (John 7:28).
- "You know Me" By
the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, six months before
Jesus crucifixion, anyone who wanted to anything
about Jesus of Nazareth could have received answers to
his questions. The apostle John and the Holy Spirit build
their narrative carefully. "And the Word became
flesh, and dwelt among us," is the record of the
initial contact of Christ in the flesh with men in
general, and Israel in particular. He taught in the
synagogues and in the streets, masses in the wilderness
and multitudes by the Sea of Galilee. When the displaced
high priest Annas would later ask Him about His teaching,
His answer was simple: "I have always taught in the
synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come
together; and I spoke nothing in secret" (John 18:20). "You know Me," were fair words.
- "You know where I am from"
Again, John and the Spirit have carefully
placed the statement of Jesus so that the honest
petitioner would have known where He was from. "And
no one has ascended into heaven," was part of His
discourse with Nicodemus, "but He who descended from
heaven, even the Son of Man" (John 3:13). They should have known that He came from
- Jesus came with the backing of the
Father The plan for Jesus coming to
earth was hatched in heaven before there was an earth.
"He was foreknown," says Peter, "before
the foundation of the world" (I Peter 1:20). "The Son can do nothing of
Himself," He had said earlier, "unless it is
something He sees the Father doing" (John 5:19). The Son of God was not "the Lone
Ranger"; everything He did on earth was in concert
with the heavenly chorus.
- "He who sent Me is true"
The Jew had known that God could not lie.
Jesus made the claim that the Almighty One of the Old
Testament scriptures was the One who sent Him, and the
One to whom He was accountable.
- "Whom you do not know"
The immortal, invisible God was going to make Himself
known to mortal, visible man through the coming of Jesus
Christ. "No man has seen God at any time," was
the point established early in the narrative. "The
only begotten [Son of] God, who is in the bosom of the
Father, He has explained Him" (John 1:18). A man could really only know God through
Jesus the Son.
The teaching of Jesus, backed by His miracles,
told the tale. He was indeed the Teacher sent from God, carrying
heavenly truth to rescue captive man. "I know Him,"
were the Lords assuring words, "because I am from Him,
and He sent Me" (John 7:29).
"You Shall Not Find Me"
Jesus was a fugitive from the law. It
wasnt that the Lord had broken any moral law, but the
executive enforcers of law in Israel were twisting the statutes
so that they could arrest Jesus and shut His mouth. His teaching
attracted the interested among the Jews; "the multitudes
were amazed at His teaching," noted Matthew the former tax
gatherer, "for He was teaching them as one having authority,
and not as their scribes" (Matthew 7:28,29). The scribes
noted the contrast and decided to use to force of the law to
close down their competition.
- Attempt at seizure The
Savior had been speaking publicly at the temple during
the Feast of Tabernacles, and a percentage of the people
were able to draw the conclusion that He was indeed the
Christ of God. His claim, in fact, was that He was the
Teacher come from heaven, dispatched from God the Father.
"I know Him," Jesus stated, "because I am
from Him, and He sent Me." The apostle John records
the response of the authorities: "They were seeking
therefore to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him,
because His hour had not yet come" (John 7:30). When the
Passover would come, then the Lamb of God could be
sacrificed; but the Feast of Booths was six months too
early, and the Almighty worked to ensure that Jesus was
not seized at that time.
- Observation of the onlookers
An electric tension filled the air as the Lord played an
inspired and challenging come-and-get-Me-if-you-can game
with those sent to arrest Him among the crowd. "But
many of the multitude believed in Him," were the
encouraging words of the apostle, pointing out that
pressure from the top can never totally stop the common
man from getting to God, "and they were saying,
When the Christ shall come, He will not perform
more signs than those which this man has, will He?
" (John 7:31).
- Damage control The men who
were working through the crowd looking for the
opportunity to nab Jesus were aware of the comments
concerning the Christ. "The Pharisees heard the
multitude muttering these things about Him," affirms
the apostle, "and the chief priests and the
Pharisees sent officers to seize Him" (John 7:32). An inner
panic began to work in the leadership, and they called
for the officers now to arrest Jesus in a desperate
attempt at damage control.
- Not to worry The Lord knew
that the "right time" for Him to die for the
ungodly had not yet come. Calmly and coolly He issued His
measured response. "Jesus therefore said, For
a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who
sent Me. You shall seek Me, and shall not find Me; and
where I am, you cannot come. " (John 7:33,34). Jesus
in effect told them that they would not have to worry
about Him for very much longer. He would be checking out
of earth soon, and returning to the Father.
The Jews would never find the Christ in the
places where they would look for Him. Seeing with physical eyes
only, they would look for a physical deliverer to bring in a
physical kingdom, arranging for a physical salvation. "If
You are the Son of God," they would later say, "come
down from the cross," so blind that they did not know that
the cross was the only means of spiritual salvation (Matthew 27:40). They would
seek Him, but they would not find Him.
The final outcome was also sad but true. Jesus
was absolutely correct in His assessment, "Where I am, you
cannot come." Earthbound in their thinking, they would
remain separated from God forever, spending eternity in the black
burning recesses of the lake of fire.
Seeking the Wrong Christ
"He came to His own," the apostle
John had recorded, in reference to Christs coming to the
Jewish people, "and His own did not receive Him" (John 1:11). The Jews, like
most others, had a tendency to think that God ought to run the
universe so that it functioned according to their parameters. The
Christ, if He ever came, would become a member of their good
ol boys club, and position Himself with enough money,
troops, and political backing so that He could run the Romans
out. Since Jesus did not operate this way, and since He had
nothing on His horizon that even remotely looked like it could
reasonably challenge the Romans, the rulers of the Jews were
confident that He could not be the Messiah. Their eyes were
locked in on the physical realm, and there they would stay.
- "A little longer" The
only contact these physically-minded Jews would have with
Jesus was during the days of His flesh. "For a
little longer I am with you," He had said,
"then I go to Him who sent Me." The Lord Jesus,
knowing who He was and the duration of His earthly
mission, was simply being factual with them. "A
little longer," and their opportunity to meet with
the Messiah face to face would be gone.
- "You shall not find Me"
The Savior of the world was going to return to
the One who sent Him, the Father in heaven. Flesh and
blood cannot enter that realm, and only those who would
walk by New Testament-defined faith would have the
God-given ability to spiritually see the courts of
heaven. A veil would lie over the hearts of those who
read Moses, and until that veil was removed in immersion
into Christ, they would not be able to see the glory of
God in the face of Christ, nor have access to the throne
of grace. "That which Israel was seeking for,"
explained the apostle Paul to the Roman brethren,
"it has not obtained" (Romans 11:7).
"You shall seek Me," Jesus had predicted,
"and shall not find Me." The builders in Israel
rejected the Cornerstone because it had a spiritual shape
rather than a physical, and they stumbled over it and
bent their backs forever.
- "You cannot come"
Men of the flesh, and determined to stay men of the
flesh, the hierarchy could never follow Jesus into
kingdom of heaven. "However, you are not in the
flesh," the apostle Paul would later say to brethren
born again of water and Spirit, "but in the Spirit,
if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone
does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to
Him" (Romans 8:9).
- Consternation among the Jews
The leaders of the people, being fixated upon earth,
looked for a physical comprehension of the Lords
statement. "The Jews therefore said to one another,
Where does this man intend to go that we shall not
find Him? He is not intending to go to the Dispersion
among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks, is He?
" (John 7:35). Beginning
with the time of the Babylonian captivity in 605 BC, the
Jews were successively scattered by the Persians, Greeks,
and Romans. These scattered Jews were known as the
diaspora, the Greek word for "Dispersion," and
generally spoke the universal language of the time, koine
Greek. Hence the rulers of the Jews thought that perhaps
Jesus would run from Judea and Galilee and hide among the
Jews dispersed throughout the Roman Empire where they
would not be able to find Him. "What is this
statement that He said, You will seek Me, and will
not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come?"
The Christ whom they sought was an imaginary
one who would never come, and who has never come. But they tore
their robes in rage over seeming blasphemy as Jesus the Messiah
spoke to those with spiritual eyes: "Hereafter you shall see
the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on
the clouds of heaven" (Matthew 26:64).
of Living Water
One of the major, but subtle, messages of the
gospel according to John is the indwelling Spirit. Jesus, in the
discourses recorded by the apostle, often obliquely referred to
the coming indwelling Spirit, and the Lords comments are
generally not comprehensible unless viewed from a perspective of
the completed New Testament. In the conversation between Jesus
and Nicodemus, for example, described in the third chapter, the
Lamb of God spoke of being "born of water and Spirit."
At the time of the conversation, it would have been impossible
for Nicodemus to understand what Jesus was talking about, but
when viewed from the perspective of the rest of the new covenant
writings, it is clear that the water would be the water of
immersion into Christ, and that being born of the Spirit would
refer to the indwelling Spirit received at immersion. In chapter
four there was the "well of water" springing up to
eternal life, and in chapter six the Jesus of whom one could
drink and be satisfied was a reference to Christ in the Spirit.
But the key that unlocks much understanding on
the issue of the indwelling Spirit is found in chapter 7. Here
the apostle recalled the events as the Feast of Tabernacles wound
down. "Now on the last day, the great day of the feast,
Jesus stood and cried out, If any man is thirsty, let him
come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture
said, "From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living
water."" (John 7:37,38). The Old
Testament scriptures had prophesied the flowing of waters of life
from the inward parts of believers, according to Jesus. The
apostle explained: "But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom
those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not
yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:39).
- "Rivers of living water"
John, under inspiration, said that the rivers
of living water was a reference to the coming Holy
Spirit. The picture is one of a huge supply of water,
flowing onto acres and acres of dry ground, bringing a
dead desert to life.
- Out of the "innermost being"
The "baptism with the Holy Spirit"
is not referred to here, since it came both times as
powerful external signs, both visible and audible.
Neither are the "gifts of the Spirit" under
discussion in John 7, since those again were
"manifestations," some external visible powers
granted the individual through the laying-on of the
apostles hands. This, from the "innermost
being," is a reference to the indwelling Spirit, the
Spirit of Christ within the believer by faith, granted at
his immersion in Jesus name.
- To "any man" The
Old Testament writings and the Lord Himself looked to the
indwelling Spirits being for all mankind, not just
the Jews. "If any man is thirsty," was
the Lords invitation. "He who believes in
Me," were other clarifying words, showing that
Gentile as well as Jew was in the contemplations.
- After Jesus was glorified
Jesus was to be crucified, buried, raised from the dead,
then glorified in heaven. One of the key points the
apostle emphasized here was that the Spirit could not
come until after Jesus ascended into glory, to heaven
- Clarifies many other scriptures
The fact that the rivers of living water is a reference
to the indwelling Spirit to be granted to all believers
opens up the understanding of many other scriptural
references. It is clear that the "well of water
springing up to eternal life" in John four is a
statement regarding the indwelling Spirit, and the
references to Jesus satisfying the hungry and
thirsty in John six are to Jesus in the Spirit.
The great God has had a very definite plan in
motion to bring all possible men and women into fellowship with
Him through His Spirit. The passage on "rivers of living
water" brings the Old and New Testaments together, and helps
the followers of Christ understand the plan and purpose of the
Father of glory.
God is at war with the forces of Satan, and
rescuing the salvageable elements of mankind. His means of
salvation includes, as a major component, the imparting of
information to the mind of man, that the new creation in Christ
might be transformed by the renewing of the mind with the message
of God. Hence God has a sort of spiritual "firewall" in
place in order to ensure the safety of His data to make it
tamperproof and to make certain that the information is
transferred clearly to those who are to come through that
firewall. The message of salvation through Jesus Christ is simple
enough that a man of humble circumstances might easily understand
it, but it is imparted in a tapestry so complex that if someone
starts messing with the threads of the spiritual weaving, it is
detectable because the picture communicated in the tapestry is
immediately deformed. Hence it was that the Lord spoke in
parables, so that only those who are "inside"
God has also communicated through
"secrets," or what are generally translated
"mysteries," as revealed in the written New Testament.
These mysteries include special information on the
resurrection from the dead, partial hardening of the Jews from 30
to 70 AD, and the conspiratorial forces of wickedness at work
within the church. But the All Wise has one He several times
calls "the mystery," as the apostle Paul noted,
referring to his fully carrying out the preaching of the word of
that is, the mystery which has been
hidden from the past ages and generations" (Colossians 1:26). This
mystery, hidden in the pages of the Old Testament, is, in the
inspired words of the apostle, "Christ in you, the hope of
glory" (Colossians 1:27). "Christ
in you" is another name for the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-11).
"By revelation there was made known to me the
mystery," wrote Paul to the Ephesians in a passage
paralleling the one in Colossians. This "mystery of
Christ," is "that the Gentiles are fellow heirs [by
receiving "the Spirit of adoption as sons" Romans 8:15] and fellow
members of the body [by being immersed into one body and thus
made to drink of the one Spirit I Corinthians 12:13], and
fellow partakers of the promise [the "Holy Spirit of
promise" Ephesians 1:13] in Christ
Jesus through the gospel" (Ephesians 3:6). What was
hidden from the past ages and generations was that the Gentiles
would become partakers of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 6:4).
Ezekiel and Zechariah are two of the Old
Testament books wherein are passages referring to the coming of
the indwelling Spirit to the Gentiles. In Ezekiel 47, in the vision the
prophet sees, a trickle of water is flowing from the spiritual
temple of God (a prophecy of the church). 4000 cubits away, the
trickle had become a "river" of living water which made
the Dead Sea come to life. This, according to the apostle John,
was "the Spirit." Similarly, Zechariah says "that
living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the
eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea" (Zechariah 14:8).
These prophecies of the indwelling Spirit to
the Gentiles obviously had their meaning well hidden; it would
have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, for someone
studying the Old Testament to arrive at that conclusion. But John
and the Holy Spirit, in their authoring of the account of the
life of Jesus, had carefully prepared the way. In chapter one,
Jesus was described as "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin
of the world!" not just the sins of the Jews. In chapter
three, the Lord was described as saying, "God so loved the
world," not just the Jews. In chapter four, a
Samaritan woman was told that "living water" would
be given to "whoever." In chapter 7, the Lords
words were "any man" would be able to have "rivers
of living water" flow from his inner being.
"But this He spoke of the Spirit,"
was Johns inspired information. Thus the
"mystery" was revealed, and faithful followers were
given a key to unlock the meaning of many previously hidden
prophecies of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles.
Some say that Jesus was merely a great teacher.
But if He were only a great human teacher, He was the greatest
combination egoist/martyr-complex that ever lived. "If any
man is thirsty," He cried, "let him come to Me and
drink." He was so great, was the implication, that any
person on the surface of the earth should come to Him and
drink from Him. At the same time His martyr complex was
kicking in, evidenced by His words, "For a little while
longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me." Crazy,
wasnt He? Or maybe He was truly the Son of God.
The multitude present at the Feast of
Tabernacles, AD 29, was thrown into a further state of confusion
by the words of the Lord. Some were intrigued, some were
challenged, and some were turned off. Thus it was, and thus it
- The Prophet? The Jews knew
that the prophecy of Moses would ultimately be fulfilled.
"I will raise up a prophet from among their
countrymen like you," God had informed the law-giver
This coming spokesman for God was called "the
Prophet" by the Jews. "Some of the multitude
therefore," observed the apostle John, "when
they heard these words, were saying, This certainly
is the Prophet. " (John 7:40).
- The Christ? For some,
"the Prophet" was not a high enough designation
for Jesus. "Others were saying, This is the
Christ. " A portion of the multitude was not
convinced, and, in typically human fashion, looked for a
reason to buttress their opinion. "Still others were
saying, Surely the Christ is not going to come from
Galilee, is He? Has not the Scripture said that the
Christ comes from the offspring of David, and from
Bethlehem, the village where David was? " (John 7:41,42). They
were so close, yet so far! The Christ indeed was to be
the offspring of David, and was indeed to be born in
Bethlehem. They just did not have enough information to
"connect the dots," to know that the Man from
Galilee met those other qualifications as well.
- The Scripture said? The
hand of God was evident in His preparation of the Jewish
people for the coming Messiah. It was clear that they
were scripturally literate, for it was common knowledge
that the Christ was to be the offspring of David and to
be from Bethlehem. Considering the eventual overall
rejection of Jesus by those in Israel, it is sobering to
consider what would have happened had they not had the
Old Testament base in place.
- Division? The
passionately held positions of the masses were definitely
vocalized among the temple throng. The apostle John
recorded, "So there arose a division in the
multitude because of Him" (John 7:43).
- Seizure? The
Pharisees had their police circulating through the crowd,
looking for Jesus. "And some of them wanted to seize
Him," reads the chronicle, "but no one laid
hands on Him" (John 7:44). The timing
was still not yet right.
Everywhere Jesus went, there arose confusion
and division. This was not because the Lord Himself was a
destructive personality, but because many were not spiritual
enough to comprehend or desire to comprehend the upward truths
which He was setting before them. Light and darkness collided at
the Feast of Tabernacles, and the darkness was forcibly trying to
repress the light.
"The Way This Man Speaks"
Controversy! Always controversy! Some were
saying that Jesus was the great Prophet raised up in the place of
Moses and some were saying that He certainly was the Christ. But
others were adamant in their refusal to recognize anything
special about the incognito Jesus, saying that the Christ had to
come from Bethlehem rather than Galilee. Adding to the confusion
were the officers sent by the Jewish hierarchy to arrest Jesus
and take Him into custody. Failing in their mission, they
returned with their heads hanging down to those who commissioned
- The return "The
officers therefore came to the chief priests and
Pharisees," wrote John, "and they said to them,
Why did you not bring Him? " (John 7:45). The
Sadducees were in control of the temple grounds by virtue
of the fact that the high priest and his associates, who
were in charge of officiating at the temple, were of the
party of the Sadducees. The Pharisees had to cooperate,
then, with the Sadducees in trying to arrest Jesus
because the chief priests controlled the temple police.
When the officers returned empty-handed, the ranking
Sadducees and Pharisees wanted to know what the problem
- The consternation The
officers themselves were somewhat overwhelmed because the
seizure of Jesus was not like the arrest of the normal
temple thief. "The officers answered, Never
did a man speak the way this man speaks. " (John 7:46). Having
heard Jesus personally rather than having heard about Him
second-hand, the temple guards were "knocked off
their pins" by the depth and teaching of Jesus of
- The justification The
Pharisees were not about to be derailed in their agenda
by something so trivial as truth or facts. "The
Pharisees therefore answered them, You have not
also been led astray, have you? No one of the rulers or
Pharisees has believed in Him, has he? But this multitude
which does not know the Law is accursed. " (John 7:47-49). Failing
to have facts, these hypocrites used their usual
browbeating techniques. Playing up their position as the
hierarchy, with supposedly superior wisdom and education,
they insinuated that the officers would be stupid to be
"led astray" by this nobody. The second card on
the table was that no one of the rulers believed in
Jesus, so obviously there was no one of substance who
would be "tricked" by the teachings of the
Lord. And the third point was that only the ignorant
rabble believed in Jesus; surely the officers would not
sink to that level.
- The dissent "No one of
the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him," were
the recorded words of the chief priests and
representatives of the Pharisees. But in their midst sat
one Nicodemus, a ruling Jew and ranking Pharisee, who had
talked to Jesus personally and who did believe in Him.
The pressure was strong, however, and Nicodemus was
circumspect in his approach. "Nicodemus said to them
(he who came to Him before, being one of them),"
John pointedly noted, " Our Law does not judge
a man, unless it first hears from him and knows what he
is doing, does it? " (John 7:50,51).
- The dismissal With a wave of
their collective hand, they brushed off the scriptural
objections of Nicodemus by appealing to the general
prejudice against Galileans in upscale Jerusalem,
"They answered and said to him, You are not
also from Galilee, are you? Search and see that no
prophet arises out of Galilee. " (John 7:52).
Isaiah 9:1,2 would have solved
their search. Never did a man speak as Jesus spoke, and men still
make their justifications, intimidations, and general
brushes-off. Let us instead hear His words and act upon them.