Having already outlined the multiple witnesses that testified to the authenticity of His claims and His message to his accusers (see John 5:31-47 and ... Read more
Having already outlined the multiple witnesses that testified to the authenticity of His claims and His message to his accusers (see John 5:31-47 and associated notes), Jesus did not trouble to repeat what He had already said, knowing that the Jewish leaders would not give any more heed the second time than they had the first. Instead, Jesus flatly affirmed Himself based on His own self-knowledge. Read less
As with His offer of the indwelling Spirit through faith in Him (see John 7:37-39 and associated notes), Jesus appears to have chosen His place and ti... Read more
As with His offer of the indwelling Spirit through faith in Him (see John 7:37-39 and associated notes), Jesus appears to have chosen His place and time for His presentation of Himself as the Light of the world to make use of ceremonial symbols which were thoroughly familiar to His audience. According to the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, it was the custom during the Feast of Booths that the area of the Temple treasury (which was part of the Court of the Women, and so was accessible to all Jews who were ceremonially clean) be brilliantly lit by two huge golden lampstands following the evening sacrifice. Now, the feast being past, the lampstands were no longer lit, but their memory was still fresh. It was against this background that Jesus made His statement.
According to Adam Clarke's Commentary, Jesus' proclamation of Himself as the Light of the world effectively constituted a claim of identity with God, for this was a title applied to the Supreme Being by the rabbis. As light illumines and reveals, so His presence in the lives of His followers would free them from the darkness of sin and ignorance and would make them vessels of His own light. Read less
This passage is not found in the oldest manuscripts and may not have been part of the original inspired record set down by John; it is sometimes found... Read more
This passage is not found in the oldest manuscripts and may not have been part of the original inspired record set down by John; it is sometimes found as part of the Gospel of Luke (again, not in the oldest manuscripts), and its origin may lie in traditions handed down within the early Church. Nonetheless, many Bible scholars have felt that this represents an authentic incident in the life of Jesus, basing their opinion on its consistency with His teachings and character in unquestionably inspired passages and with the character and methods of His enemies.
The passage opens with the aftermath of the meeting of the Sanhedrin. After having failed to have Jesus brought before them, and (thanks to Nicodemus) realizing that there was dissent among their own number regarding their methods, the Sanhedrin members went to their homes. Jesus, on the other hand, had no home in Jerusalem and repaired instead to the Mount of Olives. This may be where He had erected the temporary shelter required for the Feast of Booths (Leviticus 23:42), or perhaps He went to the home of His friends Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, whose village of Bethany lay at the foot of the Mount of Olives. It is even possible that He passed the night at the garden of Gethsemane, as Luke indicates that Jesus often retired there after spending a day in Jerusalem (Luke 22:39-40).
Why Jesus had remained at Jerusalem following the conclusion of the Feast of Booths we are not told, but following His custom when in Jerusalem, He came to the Temple and began teaching such of the people as would hear Him. But this morning His enemies set a trap for Him, whether by collusion among themselves or making use of an opportunity granted by circumstance. That they cared nothing about getting a true ruling regarding the Law is shown by their actions, for the Law of Moses required that a man who had sexual relations with another man's wife should share the same penalty as his partner (Leviticus 20:10); yet they did not bring the man, even though by their own testimony the woman had been caught in the act. (As author Philip Yancey suggested, "Perhaps he was a Pharisee?")
As with the test regarding payment of taxes to Caesar (see Matthew 22:15-22 and associated notes), the Pharisees sought to place Jesus on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, if He directed that the Law should be carried out, they could denounce Him before the people as a hypocrite, given His teachings regarding mercy and His notable sympathy for women, even those that led less than exemplary lives (compare Luke 7:36-50 and associated notes). Such a response might also have been used as a pretext to report Him to the Roman authorities, for even death sentences pronounced by the Sanhedrin had to be confirmed by the Roman governor before being carried out (see notes to Matthew 27:1-2). Humanly speaking, Jesus had no standing for pronouncing a sentence of death on anyone, especially since Roman law did not call for a death sentence on an adulterous wife. On the other hand, if Jesus counseled mercy and forgiveness, He would have publicly set aside the Law of Moses, losing the sympathy of the crowd and exposing Himself to the Sanhedrin's judgment.
Jesus' initial response to the demand of the scribes and Pharisees for His ruling was silence, accompanied by His action of writing in the dust of the Temple pavement. What He wrote we are not told; the common speculation is that it was something meant to arouse the conscience of His enemies, perhaps a listing of the sins they themselves had committed. What He made clear by His action was that He was not inclined to intervene in a civil matter for which He had not been granted any human authority; this was by rights a case for the appointed magistrates, not for Him. As in the case of the man who demanded His intervention regarding an inheritance (see Luke 12:13-21 and associated notes), Jesus refused to usurp the role of lawfully appointed human authorities; that was not what He had come to do.
But this would not do for those who had come to confront Him, and they continued pressing Him for a ruling. Jesus' response, when it finally came, was brilliant, demolishing the dilemma that the Pharisees had set up for Him and creating one for them in return. While acknowledging the just demand of the Law against the woman, it forced His enemies to confront their own failure to keep that same Law. Further, for a man to take up a stone against the woman after Jesus' pronouncement would be to claim before the crowd of those who had come to hear Jesus' teaching that he was without sin, a claim none of them could sustain. Convicted by their own consciences, they began to file out, with the "oldest" (given the idioms of the day, probably those of greatest reputation and renown rather than merely the chronologically oldest) leaving first. At last, only Jesus and the woman were left before the watching audience.
For the first time, Jesus addressed the woman directly, asking before the crowd whether she had been condemned in a judicial hearing as the Law required. When she replied that she had not, Jesus once again refused to usurp the role of the appointed magistrates and told her to go her way. The irony here is heavy; the one man who had the right by His own standard to carry out the sentence demanded by the Law refused to execute it. But He did not leave the woman's sin unaddressed, telling her plainly that she needed to turn from the life she had been living and repent. Nor did He say anything that might suspend the social or emotional consequences of her actions. She might be going home without a sentence of death against her, but she still had to deal with a betrayed husband who might well divorce her, with the scorn of her neighbors, and with her personal shame and that of her family. If she had been the pawn of a set-up designed to entrap Jesus, she had to deal with her betrayal by her lover as well. We are not told how she responded to Jesus' admonishment, and are left with the choice Jesus set before all who watched this scene: to acknowledge sin and, perhaps, turn from it, or to try to keep up a pretense of righteousness which will not stand before Him. Read less
Although the Levitical officers were not necessarily convinced of Jesus' claims, they found themselves unable to deny the power and authority with whi... Read more
Although the Levitical officers were not necessarily convinced of Jesus' claims, they found themselves unable to deny the power and authority with which He spoke and returned to the rulers empty-handed. But their testimony as to the difference between Jesus and other teachers fell on deaf ears. The Pharisees' reply reflected their arrogance in assuming that they were the measure of truth, as if their belief or unbelief was the determining factor in whether Jesus should be attended to or not; it also reflected their contempt for the common people whom they were supposedly teaching and shepherding. If the ordinary citizens of Judea were ignorant of the Law as the Pharisees claimed, the Pharisees had no one but themselves to blame for their condition, seeing that they had arrogated to themselves the right and responsibility of teaching the Law of Moses and all the interpretations which they had attached to it. (Compare Matthew 23:1-4 and associated notes).
Nicodemus (see John 3:1-21) had not yet declared himself as a follower of Jesus but nonetheless chose to intervene, reminding his fellows of the Sanhedrin that judging a man based on secondhand testimony was forbidden; it was required that a suspected blasphemer or false teacher be brought before the Sanhedrin to speak for himself, with any witnesses likewise being brought before the Council. But the hatred of the Jewish rulers as a group for Jesus was so great that they rounded on Nicodemus for reminding them of their breach of their own rules. Ironically, their contemptuous jibe at his being "from Galilee" betrayed the ignorance they so blithely condemned in the crowd, for the prophet Jonah was from that region (II Kings 14:25; Joshua 19:10-16). An even more notable prophet, Elijah, may also have been from Galilee as he was from Manasseh's territory in Gilead on the eastern side of the Jordan River (I Kings 17:1), some of which fell within Galilee's borders. In any event, even if their taunt had been true, the fact that no prophet had previously risen from Galilee would not have precluded one coming from there; the rulers' assumption that no prophet could come from Galilee was based on their own contempt for the region, not on Scripture. Read less
Jesus' offer of Himself as the satisfaction of spiritual need led to four responses: the religious but incomplete, identifying Him as the Prophet fore... Read more
Jesus' offer of Himself as the satisfaction of spiritual need led to four responses: the religious but incomplete, identifying Him as the Prophet foretold by Moses but not as Messiah; the believing, placing faith in Him as the Christ; the rejecting, who used a false understanding of His origins as a pretext for discounting his claims; and the actively hostile, who aligned themselves with the Jewish rulers in wanting to seize Him. As foretold by Simeon (Luke 2:34-35) and by Jesus Himself (Matthew 10:34-39), an open presentation of Jesus' claims to be the Messiah and the only way to salvation inevitably resulted in division among men. Read less
According to Barnes' Notes, it was the custom in Jesus' time that on the final day of the Feast of Booths, the High Priest would take water from the f... Read more
According to Barnes' Notes, it was the custom in Jesus' time that on the final day of the Feast of Booths, the High Priest would take water from the fountain of Siloam in a golden vessel and bring it to the altar, where it would be mixed with wine and poured out on the sacrifice to the sound of trumpets. Many Bible scholars believe this ceremony, which was not prescribed by the Law of Moses, to have come about as an illustration of Isaiah 12:3-4: "Therefore you will joyously draw water/From the springs of salvation./And in that day you will say,/'Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name./Make known His deeds among the peoples;/Make them remember that His name is exalted.'" It may have been during the performance of this ceremony that Jesus issued His great invitation for all men to come to Him and receive the Holy Spirit (cf. Isaiah 44:3 and 55:1, John 4:10-14). Another position held by scholars is that the water-pouring ceremony was performed on the first seven days of the feast when sacrifices were offered for all the nations, alluding to Israel's duty to be God's representative among the peoples of the world, but not on the final day, when sacrifices were offered only for the nation of Israel. Jesus' offering of Himself as the fountain of "living waters" to whom all would come would then have taken the place of the water-pouring ceremony, perhaps being done at the same time of day that the ceremony had taken place on the preceding days.
Jesus' allusion to Scripture does not appear to be a specific citation but rather an enunciation of a principle presented in the Old Testament Scriptures: faith in the Messiah to come would usher in a new relationship between God and man. Under the Old Testament economy, the Holy Spirit did not continually indwell even genuine believers; rather, the Spirit "rested on" an individual in order to empower him or her for specific service. It was not until Pentecost that the Spirit came to live within believing men and women. Read less
On hearing of the shift in the crowd's opinion, Jesus' enemies could no longer contain themselves and sent some of the Levitical temple guards to arre... Read more
On hearing of the shift in the crowd's opinion, Jesus' enemies could no longer contain themselves and sent some of the Levitical temple guards to arrest Him. Thus, they naturally assumed that when He spoke of their not being able to find Him, He was aware of their intentions and was speaking of traveling outside their reach. They did not understand that He was referring to the coming events of His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Read less
Here Jesus made His Messianic claim explicit before the crowd, effectively saying, "You think know where I am from as a man (as it turned out, many of... Read more
Here Jesus made His Messianic claim explicit before the crowd, effectively saying, "You think know where I am from as a man (as it turned out, many of them knew less than they thought – see John 7:41-42, which indicates that many of the crowd held false assumptions about His lineage and birthplace), but that is not all there is to know about me. The reason you don't know all about Me is that you don't know the One who sent Me – but I know Him." This claim further inflamed the rulers, but they were unable to find a good pretext on which to seize Him and so were forced to bide their time. In the face of their apparent inaction, many of His hearers became convinced that He was indeed the Messiah, based on the miracles that He had shown forth as His credentials. Read less
Jesus' teaching temporarily silenced His accusers among the Jewish leadership but sent the discussion and arguments that swirled around Him to an even... Read more
Jesus' teaching temporarily silenced His accusers among the Jewish leadership but sent the discussion and arguments that swirled around Him to an even higher level. One persistent line of reasoning that barred people from belief from Him as the Messiah was the perception that, knowing His putative parentage, trade, and hometown, they knew all they needed to know about Him and could dismiss His claims. (Compare Matthew 13:53-58, Mark 6:2-6, John 6:41-42, and associated notes.) Yet in claiming that no one knew anything about the origins of the coming Christ, they were ignorant of their own Scriptures, which predicted the time (Daniel 9:25-26) and place (Micah 5:2) of His coming and His human lineage (Genesis 49:10, Isaiah 11:1-5, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Matthew 22:41-42). Read less
Here Jesus answered the pretended charge of the Jewish rulers against Him, that He was a Sabbath-breaker based on the events recounted in John 5. His... Read more
Here Jesus answered the pretended charge of the Jewish rulers against Him, that He was a Sabbath-breaker based on the events recounted in John 5. His rebuttal was directed primarily to those representatives of the rulers who were in His audience, leading to confusion and astonishment among the crowd; while they were generally aware of their leaders' animosity toward Jesus, most were apparently unaware of the rulers' murderous intent.
Jesus opened with a pointed comment on the rulers' own hypocrisy, noting that none of them kept the Law in full and so were rightly subject to their own condemnation. His next move was to parallel what He had done with the rite of circumcision, which was routinely carried out on the Sabbath when the eighth day of a male infant's life happened to fall then. As Jesus pointed out, circumcision predated the Law, having been instituted in the time of the patriarchs (Genesis 17:9-14); the institution of the Sabbath as a day of complete rest did not take place until Moses' time, although the day had been set apart as a remembrance of God's finished work in Creation since the beginning (Exodus 20:8-11). Thus, the bringing of a human being into a right relationship with God (as signified by circumcision) took precedence over a public observance which would testify to that relationship. In His healing of the man at Bethesda, Jesus was not only dealing with the man's physical infirmity but with the spiritual condition that had led to his sorry state, again giving precedence to setting the relationship with God right before anything else. As He ever did, Jesus clearly stated that good works – those which spring from the love of God and man and not from a desire to make oneself righteous – were lawful regardless of the day; the Sabbath was to be a rest from toil, not from exercising love and compassion. Read less