|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:31-36 The discourses of Jesus convinced many that he was the Messiah; but they had not courage to own it. It is comfort to those who are in the world, but not of it, and therefore are hated by it and weary of it, that they shall not be in it always, that they shall not be in it long. Our days being evil, it is well they are few. The days of life and of grace do not last long; and sinners, when in misery, will be glad of the help they now despise. Men dispute about such sayings, but the event will explain them.
Verse 31. - The antagonism and the faith come into sharper expression. As the spirit-like words stir up malignant passion, they also excite new and deepening confidence. The flash of lightning, which reveals to many the glory of a landscape, may strike others blind or dead. While the authorities are harder, more unspiritual and blinder, than before, yet many of the multitude - i.e. off the general crowd, whether belonging to Jerusalem or not - believed on him, passed into the glorious illumination which falls on his own Person, and all things else. We cannot say that the whole was cleared up to them, but it was an acceptance by them to some extent of his Messianic claims. He was more than a mere Prophet to them, or Leader, as is obvious from the tone of the speech which follows: And they said (were saying to one another), while others, perhaps, so soon as they had taken his side, began to urge his claims on those that doubted - When the Christ shall come, will he do more signs than those which this Man hath done? The omission of τούτων makes the question refer to the entire group of signs which had been already performed, and not confine itself to the proceedings of Jesus in Jerusalem. They expected Messiah to give proof of his Divine commission (cf. Matthew 11:4, 5, 20-25). Has not Jesus satisfied all reasonable claims? The question was like fire in touchwood. A conflagration might at any moment burst from the excitable throng which no decision of the Sanhedrin could repress. Something must at once be done to allay the excitement. In the crowd which was pressing the claims of Jesus were many Pharisees, an immensely larger element in the population than the chief priests, and therefore more likely at once to bring such information to the central religious authority.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And many of the people believed on him,.... Whilst some were displeased at his doctrine, others were induced by his miracles to believe on him, as an extraordinary person, if not the Messiah; and these were the common people, especially those that came out of the country; for the city Jews, and above all the rulers, were very averse to him: and it is easy to observe, that faith in Christ, and true religion, spread and flourish most among the meaner sort of people.
And said, when Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done? referring not so much to the miracles many of them might have seen done by him in other parts of Judea, and in Galilee; nor only to those he had done in the preceding feasts at Jerusalem, but to those that were done by him now, though not recorded by the evangelist. The Jews expected many miracles to be wrought by the Messiah when he came, and they had good reason for it from Isaiah 35:5. To these Christ sends John the Baptist, and the Jews, for proofs of his being the Messiah, Matthew 11:4; and by these he was approved of God as such, Acts 2:23. And it is certain that the ancient Jews expected miracles in the days of the Messiah.
"Says R. Simeon to Eleazar his son, Eleazar, at the time that the King Messiah is raised up, how many "signs and other wonders" will be done in the world? a little after, from that day all the signs, and "wonders", and "mighty works", which the holy blessed God did in Egypt, he will do to the Israelites, as it is said, Micah 7:15, "according to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt, will I show unto him marvellous things" (n).''
So the Targumist on Isaiah 53:8 paraphrases thus,
"from afflictions and punishment he will deliver our captivity, and "the wonderful things" which shall be done for us in his days, who can tell?''
It is true indeed that the modern Jews have laid aside such expectations, and pretend they were not looked for formerly. Maimonides says (o),
"let it not enter into thy heart, that the King Messiah hath need to do signs and wonders (as that he shall renew things in the world, or raise the dead, and the like; these are things which fools speak of); the thing is not so.''
And he instances in Ben Coziba, who set up for the Messiah, of whom R. Akiba, and the rest of the wise men of that age, did not require a sign or miracle: yet this same writer elsewhere says (p), that
"all nations shall make peace with the Messiah, and serve him, because of his great righteousness, and the miracles which shall be done by him.''
(n) Zohar in Exod. fol. 3. 4. & 4. 2.((o) Hilchot Melakim, c. 11. sect. 3.((p) In Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 11. sect. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
31. When Christ cometh, will he, &c.—that is, If this be not the Christ, what can the Christ do, when He does come, which has not been anticipated and eclipsed by this man? This was evidently the language of friendly persons, overborne by their spiteful superiors, but unable to keep quite silent.
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