|<< John 7
John 7:10-8:59 Listen
In this passage, we note the following in Jesus' ministry:
10 But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.
11 Then the Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he?
12 And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people.
13 Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews.
14 Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.
15 And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?
16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
18 He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.
19 Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?
20 The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?
21 Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel.
22 Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man.
23 If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?
24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
25 Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill?
26 But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?
27 Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is.
28 Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not.
29 But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me.
30 Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.
31 And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?
32 The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him.
33 Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me.
34 Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come.
35 Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?
36 What manner of saying is this that he said, Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come?
Jesus' brethren had departed to the Feast of Tabernacles (see Jewish Feasts) in Jerusalem leaving Jesus behind. This Jewish festival is sometimes called the Feast of Booths or by its Hebrew equivalent, "sukkot" (meaning booth). This is a fall festival held in the seventh month (late September to late October) - six months before the Passover and the crucifixion of Jesus. Later on, however, Jesus did arrive in Jerusalem without the fanfare of an entourage of followers. Down in Jerusalem the Jewish leaders (here referred to as just "the Jews") are searching for him; there's a buzz going on there regarding his true identity. Jesus goes into the Temple to teach; it's the fourth day of this eight-day festival (verse 14). What fascinates the Jewish notables is the ability Jesus has to teach without having gone to their own schools. Jesus explains how this is possible in John 7:16, "Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me." Notice the implication of verse 17, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." In other words, if you had a relationship with God (as you say you do), God would lead you to accept the doctrine Jesus is teaching. As he makes reference to the supernatural origin of his teaching and the carefully devised plot to put Jesus to death, Jesus is subsequently accused in verse 20 of having a demon.
At this point, the verbal duel between Jesus and the Jewish leaders is in full motion. One of the big controversies of Jesus' ministry had been his practice of healing on the sabbath. Jesus addresses that in verses 22-24. He makes the point that Moses neither forbade healing nor circumcising on the sabbath. However, Pharisaical oral tradition had deemed circumcising acceptable, but healing not. Ironically, the forbidden practice of healing on the sabbath was not a problem for the Jewish leaders since they had no ability to do so anyway. In verse 24 Jesus says, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." The Greek word for "appearance" there is "opsis" meaning "that which is thought to be true, but is not necessarily." In other words, he's publicly questioning their Pharisaical traditions with which they had supplemented the Law of Moses. Their expansion of the Mosaic Law with all of their extra-scriptural stipulations and conditions had transformed its application into an impossible set of "laws" that everyone, including the Pharisees themselves, had difficulty properly observing.
As Jesus continues to answer questions in the Temple, the common people seem to be responding favorably to what they are hearing. Notice John 7:26, "But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?" Jesus is speaking with authority, and the Jewish leaders are not stopping him. Could it be, the people wonder, that the Jewish leaders do acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah? Keep in mind, "Christ" is the transliteration of the Greek word for "Messiah." Again, as on previous occasions, that comment moves this day on to a whole new level. With that statement, we no longer have a scenario where a wise man is teaching; we have THE Messiah in the house. At this point, we see in verse 27 a common misconception in that day as a result of Jewish folklore - that the Messiah would have a mysterious and unknown beginning. On the contrary, Isaiah 9:6-7 (see notes) had prophesied the birth of the Messiah. It is not clear whether or not the demonstrated ignorance of Isaiah's prophetic statement by the Jewish leadership was intentional or due to a simple lack of scriptural knowledge. In the next few verses as Jesus continues to teach, the Jewish leaders seek a way to put a stop to it; they would have taken him prisoner, but no one would touch him because verse 30 says, "his hour was not yet come." In other words, it wasn't time for the crucifixion at this point. Jesus talks about his departure (an obvious reference to his ascension), but the people don't comprehend it. As the Jewish leaders are looking for a way to stop him, he seems to just disappear.
37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
40 Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet.
41 Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?
42 Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?
43 So there was a division among the people because of him.
44 And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him.
45 Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him?
46 The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.
47 Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?
48 Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?
49 But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.
50 Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,)
51 Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?
52 They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.
53 And every man went unto his own house.
Verse 14 tells us that the previous confrontation had taken place about half way through the eight-day Feast of Tabernacles. Now, verse 37 is clearly the last day of the festival. Jesus makes a defining statement in verses 37-38, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." This statement was particularly meaningful to the Jewish audience that day because of the manner in which the Jews observed the Feast of Tabernacles on this last day. Extra-scriptural Jewish sources tell us that the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles included a daily procession of priests from the temple to the Pool of Siloam, from which they drew water that was then poured out at the base the temple altar. So you can see the relevance of Jesus' declaration concerning spiritual, living water in verse 37. The particular scripture to which Jesus may be alluding here in verse 38 is likely Isaiah 44:3 (see notes), "For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring."
Verse 39 establishes that this is indeed an invitation for salvation. So they begin to wonder, is he a prophet, or is he the Messiah. That distinction between Jesus' identity as a "prophet" or the "Christ" (aka Messiah) in verses 40-41 demonstrates that apparently the Jews were being taught that the "prophet" prophesied by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15-22 (see notes) was not the same as the Messiah for whom they had been looking. However, Jesus points out in Luke 24:27 (see notes) that Moses prophesied concerning the Messiah when he says, "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." We see a similar discussion in John 1:21 (see notes) between Jesus and the Pharisees, "And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No." After some discussion, the Pharisees speak again in John 1:25 (see notes), "And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?" It is obvious that Jewish teaching of Jesus' day differentiated between the prophet of Deuteronomy 18:15-22 (see notes), and the Messiah.
For additional insight into this distinction, read the following two articles:
Some are thinking really hard in verse 41, "...Shall Christ come out of Galilee?" They were referencing Micah 5:2 (see notes), "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." Not realizing that Jesus was, in fact, born in Bethlehem (and not Galilee), the discussion continues. The response from the Jewish leaders (lawyers, so to speak) to the people's inquiries in verses 48-49 shows the mess that Judaism was in during this time period, "Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed." As you can see, these Jewish leaders believed that only they, who knew their own version of Jewish law, had favor with God. Obviously, these leaders had a real disdain for common ol' folks. Nicodemus, the Pharisee who came to Jesus in John 3 (see notes), defends Jesus (verse 51), but is quickly put into his place by his fellow Jewish leaders on the basis of Micah 5:2 (see notes).
The woman taken in adultery (John 8:1-11)
1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
Here's one of our very familiar stories of scripture. It is often misused by people with political agendas to teach tolerance toward sin, but the real teaching here is a lesson on hypocrisy. By the way, the Jewish leaders seek to use this incident as an opportunity to trap Jesus into public, prosecutable blasphemy. They point out that this adulterous woman is clearly in violation of written Jewish law, not just oral tradition. In verse 4, the scribes and Pharisees explain to Jesus, "Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act." Then they cite the Mosaic Law in verse 5, but leaving a significant portion out; where is the man? After all, Leviticus 20:10 (see notes) actually says, "And the man that committeth adultery with another mans wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbours wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death." Again I say, "Where's the man?" Not that it always stopped them, but secular historians tell us that the Jews did not have Roman authority to execute capital punishment except in the case of temple violations. Let's face it, this whole charade is just to set a trap for Jesus (verse 6); they couldn't care less about the woman actually taken in adultery.
Well, their object was to get Jesus to dispute Mosaic Law. However, the tables quickly turn on them when they are directed by Jesus in verse 7, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." Oooops...didn't think of that...I mean...the actual stoning. In fact, none of them had the authority from the Roman government to execute another for sexual violations. And then there's that writing on the ground by Jesus - what did it say? Whatever Jesus wrote on the ground in front of her accusers had an impact on them. I'm guessing that whatever it was exposed their own hypocrisy to the point that it was too embarrassing to stay around. Did Jesus condone sinful conduct? No! Look at what he told the woman at the conclusion of this ordeal in verse 11, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."
Incidentally, many often ask why the man who was "caught in the act" didn't accompany the woman to the stoning party per the Mosaic Law. First of all, it's doubtful that they ever intended to stone the woman in the first place since they lacked authority to do so. The object was to trap Jesus making statements contrary to Mosaic Law. However, some have suggested that perhaps the woman was caught with a Roman. The Jewish leadership had no authority whatsoever to bring a Roman citizen to this party. However, that's just a conjecture.
Another bout with the religious leaders (John 8:12-29)
12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.
14 Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.
15 Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.
16 And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.
19 Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.
20 These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.
21 Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.
22 Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come.
23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.
24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.
26 I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.
27 They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.
28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
Notice John 8:12, "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." The woman taken in adultery was apparently an interruption to the dialogue between Jesus and the Jewish leaders in John 7 (see above). Now, verse 12 frames the next topic of discussion with the Jewish leaders as Jesus has just issued a general call for disciples. To properly understand this discussion, let's make certain that we understand the invitation. Jesus is proposing that the revelation of God ("the light of life") comes through following Jesus himself. That's a strong, unpalatable statement - one that the Jewish leaders feel they must immediately and adamantly dismiss. Their very bold reply to Jesus in verse 13 is basically, "You're a liar!" Jesus goes on to explain his relationship with the God of Israel, mostly falling on unreceptive ears. Jesus is quite clear as he addresses them, more so than at any time previously.
Remember the discussion regarding the physical origin of Jesus back in 7:40-42 (see above)? Well...Jesus brings that up here in verse 14. Without knowledge of his origin, they had dismissed Jesus as a liar. Who cares about the facts, anyway? Then the dialogue turns to a discussion about references. Jesus declares in verse 18, "the Father that sent me beareth witness of me." Jesus follows this statement with an indictment in verse 19 when he says, "Ye neither know me, nor my Father." If you ever wonder why Jesus was not more tolerant of the Pharisees, here's your answer: They were professional religionists who did not have a relationship with God. That is a very dangerous combination. "Yeah, but aren't all religions good if you're sincere?" one might ask. Read what Jesus tells these professional religionists in verse 24, "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." Here's the deal; Jesus is the only way to Heaven - then and now.
Now, you might wonder what Jesus expects this dialogue with the Jewish leaders to accomplish. There's the expected outcome in verse 28, "Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things." This is Jesus' direct reference to the crucifixion at the hands of these very Jewish leaders. Jesus has been prophesying his crucifixion throughout his earthly ministry.
Consider the following references Jesus had already made regarding his crucifixion:
Understand this: God's plan of redemption required that the Messiah first suffer death as prophesied by Isaiah 53 (see notes).
30 As he spake these words, many believed on him.
31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?
47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?
49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.
50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.
51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.
53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?
54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:
55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
Notice verse 30, "As he spake these words, many believed on him." Now we see in verses 31-32 a distinction between salvation and discipleship, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Jesus! Did you say free! That sets a fire under the Pharisees when they make their catty remark in verse 33, "We be Abrahams seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?" That sets the stage for the remaining portion of the chapter.
Notice the relationship between faith in God and faith in Jesus from the words of Jesus in verse 42, "If God were your Father, ye would love me." In other words, Jesus and God are inseparable - then and now. Speaking of being descendants of Abraham, Jesus makes his point regarding their highly-valued heritage in verse 44, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." Hey guys! Not Abraham, but Satan! Of course they take great exception to this assessment of their spiritual blindness and continue to argue this point. Jesus then invokes the name of Abraham once again in John 8:56, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad." Whoa! Now that's heavy! Look at the way Paul explains it in Galatians 3:16 (see notes), "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." Paul makes the point we are all recipients of the promise God made to Abraham through Abraham's most notable descendant, Jesus Christ our Lord. When God said in Genesis 12:3 (see notes), "...and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed," that's talking about us - Christians! So, the physical descendants of Abraham got land and physical prosperity out of the covenant, but we all get Christ and eternal life out of it. So, you see, when God gave Abraham the promise of innumerable descendants, he was talking about doing so through the Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Here's another strong statement by Jesus in verse 47, "He that is of God heareth Gods words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God." With that statement, perhaps Jesus meant to remind them of Proverbs 28:9 (see notes), "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination." Whether they saw the relationship or not, Jesus plainly declares in verse 51, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death."
Jesus caps off this discussion by making a statement that identifies himself as God in verse 58, "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." What's wrong with that grammar? It's a play on words flashing back to the burning bush from which God spoke to Moses in Exodus 3:14 (see notes), "And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." In Greek, "was" is the aorist infinitive of "ginomai" literally meaning "before Abraham WAS BORN, I AM." That statement is, in essence, Jesus proclaiming himself to be God in the flesh without actually saying those exact words. Their reaction? Verse 59 says, "Then took they up stones to cast at him:"