When Jesus appeared in the Temple seemingly out of nowhere and began teaching, the initial reaction of the Jewish rulers was astonishment. They had e... Read more
When Jesus appeared in the Temple seemingly out of nowhere and began teaching, the initial reaction of the Jewish rulers was astonishment. They had expected a simple peasant whom they could either intimidate or put out of the way quietly, or else a would-be demagogue; what they got was someone whose behavior was not that of one seeking personal power or position, yet whose knowledge of the Scriptures and mastery of their principles was far above their own. Their reference to Jesus' lack of education did not mean that He was illiterate or that He had not been taught the Scriptures (both basic literacy and religious instruction being functions of the local synagogues) but that He had not attended any of the rabbinical schools in which the religious elites were groomed. Read less
Jesus had never intended to violate the Law of Moses by failing to attend the feast; His refusal to go with His relatives was a refusal to go at that ... Read more
Jesus had never intended to violate the Law of Moses by failing to attend the feast; His refusal to go with His relatives was a refusal to go at that time, not a refusal to go at all. Instead, He went quietly at a time of His own choosing, probably accompanied only by the Twelve. Thus, the Jewish rulers, who had been expecting Him to travel with His family and neighbors as was the custom, did not find Him among them. Their search for Him probably fueled the covert gossip about Jesus all the more.
While the people of Judea had undoubtedly heard news about Him that had come down the trade routes from Galilee, John's record of their discussions suggests that even though Jesus had taught and worked miracles among them when attending the first Passover during the period of His earthly ministry, they (unlike the Galileans) were still not taking Him seriously as possibly being their Messiah. They apparently regarded Him as only a man; the question in their minds was whether He was a good teacher or a false one, not whether He was something more. Read less
The Feast of Booths was one of the three great feasts of Israel which required attendance at Jerusalem by all able-bodied Jewish men (Leviticus 23:33-... Read more
The Feast of Booths was one of the three great feasts of Israel which required attendance at Jerusalem by all able-bodied Jewish men (Leviticus 23:33-44). While it was a time of remembering Israel's wilderness wanderings and remembering again God's goodness in bringing His people into the Land of Promise, it also and a typical meaning, signifying God's living presence among His people. During the period of Israel's wanderings, that presence had been manifested in the Cloud of the Presence that guided them and in the Shekinah glory that dwelt within the Tabernacle. Now, though Israel did not realize it, it was manifested in Jesus Himself, the Incarnate God who had descended to be among them in a new way. John's grasp of this concept is clear in his presentation of Jesus having "dwelt (from the Greek eskeénoosen, literally "tabernacled") among us" (John 1:14).
The challenge from Jesus' relatives (probably both His literal brothers and members of the extended family) to declare Himself openly at the feast by means of miracles performed there appears to have come as a taunt. Despite the miracles and teaching of Jesus' ministry in Galilee, Jesus' family appears to have joined in the general rejection of Jesus by the people of Nazareth (see Matthew 13:54-58, Mark 6:2-6, Luke 4:16-21, and associated notes). Their refusal to accept His claims would have been a considerable social embarrassment to Him as well as personally painful (see also Matthew 12:46-50 and associated notes). They appear also to have been making light of His knowledge that the religious leaders in Jerusalem were seeking to find a way to kill Him.
As He ever did, Jesus refused the demand that He conform Himself to any human agenda. His behavior implicitly denied His brothers' insinuation that He was seeking popularity or power for Himself, for He refused to go with them when His presence in a large and noisy gathering of His relatives would have called undue attention to His approach. He also pointed out to them that His yielding to their demand would have placed them in no danger, since the Jewish rulers had no quarrel with them, but did place Him at risk, something they clearly were giving no heed to. Read less
Undoubtedly there were more disciples than the Twelve who kept faith with Jesus even after others chose to walk away, but the Twelve were His closest ... Read more
Undoubtedly there were more disciples than the Twelve who kept faith with Jesus even after others chose to walk away, but the Twelve were His closest friends. It was natural, then, that Jesus should ask them where their hearts lay as they saw others turning away from Him, for some of those who chose to go back to their former lives had doubtless become friends. There is a very human feeling to Jesus' question; certainly He was concerned as to whether His chief followers were true, but as a man there was also a yearning to still have friends. The Incarnate God's path would ultimately lead Him to the utter loneliness of the Cross, where even the Father would turn His back, but until the time came when the normal human need for companionship had to be laid aside for the fulfillment of Jesus' work, He had the same emotional needs as any other man and enjoyed their lawful fulfillment.
In characteristic fashion, Peter answered for all the disciples. His reply was essentially that the disciples' initial faith in Jesus as their Messiah had been confirmed by both His actions and His teachings, and therefore if He taught something that seemed difficult, it still must somehow fit with the tenor of His other teachings and would be understood in due time. And in the meantime, there was simply nowhere else to turn. Peter's answer acknowledged Jesus to be unique in person, office, and teaching; there was no one else who could take His place. If He were not the Messiah, then no one was.
Jesus' reply appears to hold a tacit commendation of those whom He had chosen; yet joined with this is a jarring contrast in the warning that one even among His closest friends was to prove unalterably opposed to Him. Judas may well have understood more of what Jesus was driving at than those disciples who had walked away, but any intellectual understanding he possessed was not enough to change his heart. (Compare Matthew 10:1-4 and associated notes.) Read less
Many of those who followed Jesus were unable to grasp His meaning, either because they could not get past the culturally shocking metaphors of eating ... Read more
Many of those who followed Jesus were unable to grasp His meaning, either because they could not get past the culturally shocking metaphors of eating flesh and drinking blood (which John 6:63 makes plain were not to be taken literally) or because what they did grasp was that Jesus had another agenda than meeting their demand for His provision of their temporal needs and desires. Their failure to understand or accept what He had to say became their measuring rod for their decision as to whether to continue following Jesus. Instead of basing their trust in Jesus on what they had already seen of His character and His works, they put their faith in their own faulty judgment and made the decision to withdraw from Him. And as Jesus pointed out, those who were discontented with Him because of His failure to be a Messiah on their terms would not have ceased their discontent even had they seen absolutely unmistakable proof of His deity; ultimately, they wanted God to conform Himself to their desires and not the other way around. Read less
This passage led to early critics of Christianity (and some even today) charging that Christians were (are) cannibals. But a moment's consideration s... Read more
This passage led to early critics of Christianity (and some even today) charging that Christians were (are) cannibals. But a moment's consideration should be more than sufficient to show that Jesus was not referring to literal consumption of the flesh and blood of His physical body. Aside from the fact that such practices were anathema to the Jews – and, for that matter, to most Gentile cultures – a salvation dependent on literally eating His body and drinking His blood would have been available only to people alive at the time of His walk on earth and only to a finite number, since a single human body can supply only so much flesh and blood.
Again, context is critical. The whole thrust of Jesus' argument, beginning with John 6:26, was that the Jews were seeking Him to have their physical needs met when they should have been seeking Him to give them what they so desperately lacked in their spiritual lives: a living and vital relationship with the God they supposedly worshiped. And they could only have such a relationship by incorporating Him into their lives through faith in His word and through His work in His atoning sacrifice, which is what He was referring to when He presented the idea of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. That He should have used a metaphor of eating should not be surprising; not only was He using His audience's demand that He should replicate the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand on a larger scale as a springboard, but to this day we use metaphors related to eating to represent our assimilation of new ideas or life changes. We "chew on" an idea as we mull it over time and again; we "digest" unexpected news; we refer to an interesting or challenging new idea as "food for thought"; we "drink in" sensations or emotional content. The typical counterpart to Jesus' presentation of Himself in this passage is the peace offering, which symbolized fellowship between God and man based on the sacrifice of an innocent substitute and provided a sacred meal for the one who gave the offering. Read less
Jesus' citation from the scroll of the Prophets comes from Isaiah 54:13 and is from a larger passage describing the blessed state of Israel following ... Read more
Jesus' citation from the scroll of the Prophets comes from Isaiah 54:13 and is from a larger passage describing the blessed state of Israel following the nation's final redemption, which in turn follows Isaiah's Messianic prophecy of the Suffering Servant. All those who are in the kingdom to come will receive God's instruction. This leads to the mystery of God's calling and man's responsibility. No one can come to Jesus without being called by God, but each individual man remains responsible for answering that call: he must both hear and learn, the latter word implying an active willingness to receive what is heard and incorporate it into the life.
Jesus' statement regarding His having seen the Father must be considered in the context of what came before it. In this, He distinguishes Himself from those who respond to the Father's call and are drawn to Him. Contrasting His knowledge with the learning from and of the Father which is given to ordinary believers, Jesus describes Himself as One who has "seen" the Father; that is, One who already has perfect comprehension and understanding of Him. Only the Son of God among men could make that claim. Read less
The Jews understood Jesus to be making a claim to be God-sent, but they could not reconcile this with His seeming ordinariness. While most of them di... Read more
The Jews understood Jesus to be making a claim to be God-sent, but they could not reconcile this with His seeming ordinariness. While most of them did not personally know Joseph and Mary, they knew of them as ordinary Jews, enrolled in the genealogies of their people. As far as they were concerned, that told them everything about Jesus: His origin, His social class, His connections, and His occupation were all bound up with His supposed parentage. Their reaction was similar to that of the people of Nazareth when Jesus preached in their synagogue (see Matthew 13:53-58, Mark 6:2-6, and associated notes). Read less
Compare Matthew 5:6 and associated notes. Jesus' audience apparently still took Jesus to be referring to literal bread; His response made it plain th... Read more
Compare Matthew 5:6 and associated notes. Jesus' audience apparently still took Jesus to be referring to literal bread; His response made it plain that He was referring to Himself. Those who come to Him, placing their full reliance on Him, will find their every desire fulfilled in Him; His work will be proven complete in their resurrection. This work of salvation from both sin and the power of death was what Jesus been sent to accomplish by the Father, and Jesus openly proclaimed that it would be completed in everyone who came to Him. Read less
Jesus' argument here is twofold. First, it was not Moses who had given the Israelites manna, but God Himself, as the Jews should have known from thei... Read more
Jesus' argument here is twofold. First, it was not Moses who had given the Israelites manna, but God Himself, as the Jews should have known from their own citation of Psalm 78:24. Second, the manna was a type of Jesus Himself (see Exodus 16:8-15 and associated notes). As the Father had sent the manna to satisfy the physical hunger of His people, He had now sent the Son to satisfy their spiritual need. Read less