Through the Bible Day by Day
After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.
KNOWN BY OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD JESUS
This feast was celebrated in October. Six entire months had elapsed between this and the preceding chapter. During the Feast of Tabernacles the people dwelt in tents made of boughs, on the roofs of the houses, and in the open places in or around Jerusalem. The rites of the feast recalled the miraculous interpositions of the Exodus. Water was poured forth each morning in the Temple to recall the smiting of the rock. Two candelabra, lighted each evening, represented the luminous cloud which lighted the Israelites by night. The brethren of Jesus are named in Mat_13:55, of whom James afterward became chief pastor of the Jerusalem church. They could not deny His miracles; could not understand why he did not lead the popular movement that was ready to follow; and urged that he should at least give the authorities at the capital an opportunity of examining His claims. They felt that things had reached a point where there ought to be no standing still. Jesus could not explain the reasons that actuated Him. He knew that His open challenge to Jerusalem would mean His death; but there was yet further work to be done before His time should come. Let us use our time according to the divine plan.
Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.
HOW TO KNOW THE TRUTH OF JESUS’ WORD
Jesus now went up to the feast, not because he was prompted by the worldly policy suggested by His brethren, but because He was led by His Father’s will. We must be on our guard against unspiritual advisers, and must wait till the hour and the minute-hands of the clock have reached the precise moment of the Father’s appointment.
Here is an easy method of ascertaining whether our Lord’s words about God, Himself, and the future are merely the words of a human teacher, or are really God’s. Be willing to do as He says! Stand prepared to fulfill whatever is revealed to your mind and witnessed to by the inner voice! Live with your face toward the dawn, for though it tarry long it will certainly break. See Joh_3:21. Faith in the gospel does not come by logic, but as the result of obeying the highest truth that you know. Follow on and your path will lead you out to where Jesus stands, the revealed Son of God and the Savior of men. The old quarrel as to the miracle wrought at Bethesda on the Sabbath was still alive, Joh_7:22-23. His critics did not hold that the Mosaic law was violated if a child’s submission to the Jewish initiatory rite was performed on the Sabbath. How foolish, then, to blame Jesus for an act of mercy and healing!
Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill?
THE UNAVOIDABLE CHRIST
The freedom with which Jesus preached arrested the attention of the people in Jerusalem, and many wondered whether the cessation of hostility indicated a tacit admission on the part of the authorities that Jesus was what He claimed to be. But they were deferred in arriving at this final conclusion by the consideration that the origin of the Messiah would be unknown, Joh_7:27. Jesus answered this objection in Joh_7:28-29. He says in effect: “What you say is true: the Messiah’s origin is not known: but my origin is unknown, because it is from God, whom you, notwithstanding your profession, do not know. I know Him, but to you He is only a venerable Name.” The knowledge of the birth at Bethlehem and the lowly family of Jesus, will not explain the mystery of His Person or the secret of His influence on men. All that can only be accounted for by His divine glory as the Only-Begotten of the Father. His hearers immediately recognized the greatness of these claims, which appeared to them blasphemous, though to us they are the literal truth. While the adversaries of Jesus were strengthened in their purpose, His friends were confirmed in their faith. Joh_7:31 is a decided advance upon Joh_7:12. See 2Co_2:16.
The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him.
A SPRING OF LIFE-GIVING WATER
“The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.” The truth of that saying clearly appears in the earlier part of this section. When the Lord spoke of returning to the Father His hearers supposed that He was proposing to visit the Jews of the Dispersion. But how profound are these words of promise to those who come to Him! He is not content with speaking of a river. He uses the plural-rivers shall flow from Him. Add stream to stream, torrent to torrent, river to river, and these will barely suffice to set forth the freshness and abundance of life that shall proceed from the soul that previously had been thirsty for its own personal supply.
When our Lord ascended he received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, and then a new era broke on the world. The life of the believer was no longer only an imitation of obedience. It was the uprising and outpouring of the Holy Spirit from within. We become strengthened with might in the inner man and Christ dwells in our hearts by faith. Thereupon we not only are infilled of the Spirit, but it is His gracious ministry to mankind through us that makes the desert rejoice and blossom.
Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet.
THE BLINDNESS OF PREJUDICE
These short descriptions of the impressions made on His hearers by the discourses of Jesus indicate the double development which was resulting from His ministry. Those in favor spoke of the Prophet and the Christ. Compare Joh_1:21; Joh_6:14. Others raised objections, Joh_7:41-42. Others again desired to take action, Joh_7:44.
Though it was a holy day, the Sanhedrin was in session to receive the report of their officers. These, by their candid statement, unconsciously passed a strange criticism on the religious speakers to whom they were wont to listen. Compare Joh_7:48 with Joh_7:50 and Joh_3:1-36.
How greatly Nicodemus had grown since his night-visit to Jesus! And he was to advance still further, Joh_19:39. The appeal to history was apparently true. Jonah is the only prophet who might have been quoted as an apparent exception, but he may only have been a resident in Galilee when the summons came to him. The reasoning of Joh_7:52, however, was not conclusive. Even if none had arisen, it was the more likely that the Divine Spirit should choose the most humble origin; and the one most in keeping with the peasant-birth of the manger-bed.