John 7



Jesus Goes to the Feast of Tabernacles (7:1-13)

1 The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and the surrounding province of Judea were plotting to kill Jesus (John 5:16,18). Therefore, Jesus stayed and preached in Galilee. He stayed in Galilee not because He was afraid of the Jewish leaders, but because the time appointed by God for Him to die had not yet come.

2 The Feast of Tabernacles was a Jewish celebration held each year to show thanks to God for the harvest (Leviticus 23:33-34; Deuteronomy 16:13-15).

3 Jesus’ brothers advised Jesus to go to the province of Judea (or to Jerusalem, the capital of Judea) so that His disciples might see His miracles—that is, His disciples who lived in Judea. Many of these Judean disciples had already forsaken Jesus (John 6:66).

4 Jesus’ brothers thought that He wanted to become a public figure. Jesus was performing miracles like the Messiah was expected to do. But why perform them up in the northern hill district of Galilee? That was like performing miracles in secret. Instead, the brothers said, Jesus should go to the capital city of Jerusalem and show Himself to the world.52

5 Jesus’ brothers didn’t understand the work of the Messiah. They did not understand Jesus’ plan. They thought Jesus was trying to make Himself a king (see Mark 5:43; 6:44-45; 8:30 and comments). They didn’t understand, because they didn’t believe. They were His brothers in flesh, but not in spirit. Only those who believe Christ can understand Him. Only those who believe in Christ are His true brothers (see Mark 3:31-35 and comment).

6 Jesus told His brothers to go to the feast themselves. It was not the right time for Him to go. All “times” for Jesus were fixed by God. But He said to His brothers, “For you any time is right.” They did not walk according to God’s will; therefore, all times were the same for them. They had no special time for going to Jerusalem; they could go whenever they pleased. So let them go to the feast when all the other Jews were going.

7 Jesus said to His brothers, “The world cannot hate you.” The world cannot hate them because they belong to the world, and the world loves its own (see John 15:18-19 and comment).

But unbelieving men of the world hate Jesus, because Jesus exposes their sin. That is why the Jewish leaders opposed Jesus so strongly.

8-9 Jesus said, “I am not yet53 going up54 to this feast.” He meant that He would not go up to the feast with His brothers as they requested. He would go later, at the right time for Him.

Jesus wanted to go to the feast in order to teach the people. For that, it was better to go near the end of the festival; then the crowds would be greatest.

10 Some days later, Jesus also went up to Jerusalem. He went in secret, that is, not with a big crowd but privately. Perhaps only He and His closest disciples went. He did not want to attract attention, lest the Jewish leaders discover Him on the way and arrest Him before He could get to Jerusalem.

11 The Jews—that is, the Jewish leaders and Jesus’ enemies among the Jews—watched for Jesus. They were looking for an opportunity to arrest Him (verse 32).

12-13 The crowds also were talking about Jesus quietly. The crowds were also Jews, but they were the common people. They didn’t know what to think about Jesus. Some said one thing and some said another (verses 42-43). But for fear of the Jews—that is, the Jewish leaders—the crowds did not talk openly; they were whispering (verse 12).

Jesus Teaches at the Feast (7:14-24)

14-15 Halfway55 through the feast, Jesus began to teach the people in the courts of the temple. The Jews, that is, the Jewish leaders, were amazed at Jesus’ knowledge of the Scriptures. They were Pharisees and teachers of the law. They had been properly trained. But this fellow Jesus knew more than they did! (see Matthew 7:2829; Mark 6:2-3 and comments).

16 Jesus’ knowledge came from God. When people hear Jesus’ teaching, they are hearing God.

17 The Jewish leaders questioned Jesus’ authority; they questioned the truth of His teaching. But then Jesus questioned their ability to hear the truth. Those who choose to do God’s will do not doubt that Jesus’ teaching is true. But these Jewish leaders did not choose to do God’s will; therefore, they were unable to tell whether Jesus’ teaching was true or not.

Here Jesus gives us a very important truth. Whoever chooses to do God’s will will know if Jesus’ teaching comes from God. If we determine to do God’s will, God will reveal His will to us. He will open our spiritual eyes. We will know that Jesus’ teaching is true.

Many people say, “How can I know God’s will? How can I know if Jesus’ teaching is true?” The answer is: First choose to do God’s will, whatever it might be, and then you will find out what His will is.

Many people say, “If I knew that Jesus’ teaching was true, I would follow Him. If I knew for sure what God’s will was, I would obey it.” But such people are deceiving themselves. They are not sure what God’s will is because they have not agreed in their hearts to obey God. They are using their uncertainty about God’s will as an excuse for not obeying God. God says: “First agree to obey me; then I will show you what my will is for you.”56 Christ says: “First have faith in me; then you will fully understand that my teaching is true and comes from God.”

18 Jesus said that there was another way to tell if His teaching was from God. The man who tries to gain honor for himself speaks on his own. But the man who works for the honor of [God] is a man of truth. Therefore, Jesus’ teaching was the truth and was from God, because He worked only for the honor of God.

When we listen to a man’s teaching, let us ask ourselves: Does his teaching bring honor to God? Does it bring honor to Christ? If it does, then that man’s teaching is true and can be trusted.57 But if a man tries only to exalt himself, then his teaching cannot be trusted. It will usually be at least partly false.

19 Jesus added that there is nothing false58 in the man who works for God’s honor (verse 18). But in the Jewish leaders there was much falsehood, much unrighteousness. Jesus said to them, “Not one of you keeps the law. You all disobey the law in something” (James 2:10). They were falsely accusing Jesus of breaking the law (John 5:18); but they were the ones breaking the law by trying to kill Him (Exodus 20:13).

It is a very common observation that those who are themselves guilty of an of fense are the quickest to accuse others of that same of fense! (see Romans 2:1 and comment).

20 The crowd who heard Jesus didn’t know anything about the plot of the Jewish leaders to kill Jesus. Some of them thought that Jesus must be demon-possessed (see Mark 3:22).

21 Then Jesus mentioned the man He had healed at the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath (John 5:2-9). Everyone had been amazed by that miracle. Yet the Jews had opposed Him because He had healed the man on the Sabbath (John 5:16).

22-23 But the Jews circumcised59 male children on the Sabbath according to God’s command (Genesis 17:9-12). So why can’t Jesus heal a man on the Sabbath? God not only commanded the Jews to circumcise their male children, but He also commanded them to do good to their neighbor (Leviticus 19:18). To circumcise and to show mercy were both commands of God written in the law. Therefore, both commands should be obeyed on the Sabbath, not just the command to circumcise.

Furthermore, the command to circumcise involved just one small part of the body. But the command to love one’s neighbor and to show him mercy involved his whole body. Jesus healed people’s whole bodies, and He also healed their souls as well. If it was right on the Sabbath to perform the ceremony of circumcision, which involved only one part of the body, it surely was right on the Sabbath to heal the whole body (see Mark 3:1-5; Luke 13:10-16; 14:1-6; John 5:10 and comments).

24 Then Jesus rebuked the Jews for observing the law only outwardly. They cared only that they appeared righteous in the sight of other men. They neglected the more important commandments of the law, such as showing mercy (see Matthew 23:23,28 and comment). They made judgments only according to outward appearance, and not according to man’s heart. Therefore, their judgments were not right. Their judgments were not in accordance with God’s judgments, because God looks not at the outward appearance, but … at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

Is Jesus the Christ? (7:25-44)

25-26 Some of the crowd knew the Jewish leaders had been trying to kill Jesus. Therefore, when they saw Jesus teaching openly in the temple, they thought that perhaps the Jewish leaders had changed their minds about Jesus. Otherwise, they would have arrested Him. Perhaps the leaders had decided that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, after all.

27 But some said, “No, it’s not possible that Jesus is the Christ. When the true Christ (Messiah) comes, no one will know where he is from.60 But we know this Jesus is the son of Joseph and Mary from Nazareth; therefore, he cannot be the Christ.”

28-29 Jesus said to the people, “Yes, you know my name and my town. But you do not know who my real Father is. You do not know where I really come from. I come from God. I am not here on my own. I have come to do my Father’s will (John 6:38). You do not know God, but I know him, because I am from him” (see John 6:46). The Jews didn’t know where Jesus was from because they didn’t know God.

30 The Jewish leaders then tried to seize Jesus, but they could not (see verse 44). John does not explain how they were prevented from seizing Jesus; he only gives the reason why they were prevented: it was not yet Jesus’ time to die. His time had not yet come. Wicked men cannot change God’s plan.

31 But some of the crowd believed in Jesus because of the miraculous signs that He performed (see John 2:23-24 and comment). Such faith based on signs is usually weak, but it can be the beginning of real faith. Christ does not reject such faith. It is better to believe because of signs than not to believe at all!

32 When the Pharisees heard that many in the crowd believed in Jesus, they were even more upset. The more people respected Jesus, the less they would respect the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders. The Pharisees joined with the chief priests61 and sent officers (the temple police) to arrest Jesus.

33 Jesus was not worried about the plot to arrest Him. He knew about it. “I am with you only a short time,” He said to the Jews. “Nothing you can do will change that time. I am in God’s hands. I will soon go to Him.”

34 Jesus said to them, “When I go, you will look for me, but you will not find me.” Those who seek to persecute Jesus will not have the opportunity to persecute Him after He is gone. Neither will they be able to enter into heaven themselves. The door will be shut to the enemies of Jesus (see John 8:21).

35-36 The Jews, as usual, did not understand Jesus’ meaning. They did not understand that He was talking about His death and His ascension to heaven. They thought He meant that He would go to the Greeks62—that is, to other Gentile countries, where many Jews also lived.

37 On the last day of the feast, Jesus stood up and gave an extraordinary invitation to the crowd of people: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” Jesus has living water to give to whoever comes to Him (see John 4:10,14; 1 Corinthians 10:4 and comments).

But to receive that “living water,” we must first thirst for it (see Matthew 5:6 and comment). If we do not seek God, we shall not find Him (Jeremiah 29:13; Matthew 7:7-8). If we are not thirsty for righteousness and for spiritual life, we shall not be filled.

38 To drink from Christ means to believe in Christ and to receive new spiritual life from Him. Here Jesus teaches from the Old Testament that when we have received this living water, it will then flow out from us to others (Isaiah 58:11; Zechariah 14:8). We are like pipes. Whatever “water” flows in, that much will flow out. The more we come to Christ to drink, the more blessings we will have to give to others. But if we do not let Christ’s blessings flow out from us to others, no more blessings will be able to flow into our lives. He who gives blessings to others will receive more blessings himself (Proverbs 11:24-25).

The world around us is spiritually like a desert. It is dry, without spiritual life. For life to arise in the desert water is needed, and that water must come from Christ’s disciples, from Christ’s church. Drops of water are not enough. Little trickles of water are not enough. The world needs streams—rivers—of living water (Isaiah 44:3; Joel 3:18).

39 Here Jesus tells us that the living water is the Holy Spirit. When we come to Christ in faith, He gives us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is both God’s Spirit and Christ’s Spirit. We cannot see God the Father and Jesus the Son with our bodily eyes; but we can know them and have fellowship with them, because they are present with us in the form of the Holy Spirit. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all one God. They are three forms (or modes of existence) of one God.

When we believe in Christ, then God and Christ together give us living water, that is, the Holy Spirit (see John 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:13 and comments). But when Jesus was on earth, the Holy Spirit had not yet been fully given. The Old Testament prophets had from time to time received God’s Spirit for a special work, but the Holy Spirit had not dwelled permanently in them. Only after Christ was glorified—that is, killed and then raised from the dead—was the Holy Spirit given to men and women as a permanent gift (see John 16:7; 20:22 and comments). And only after Christ ascended into heaven did the Holy Spirit fill the lives of the apostles and give them the power to be witnesses for Christ (see Acts 1:8-9; 2:14 and comments).

All believers are totally dependent on the Holy Spirit. Everything we do for Christ we do through the power of the Holy Spirit. We cannot live the Christian life even for one hour without the enabling of the Holy Spirit. Just as our bodies need water constantly, so our souls need the Holy Spirit constantly.

40 After the people had heard Jesus speak, some thought He must be the prophet that Moses wrote about in Deuteronomy 18:15 (see John 1:21; 6:14).

41-42 Some people among the crowd thought that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah—that is, the “anointed one.”63 But others disagreed. According to the Old Testament, the Messiah was supposed to be descended from David and come from Bethlehem, where King David was born (2 Samuel 7:12-14; Psalm 89:3-4; Micah 5:2). But the crowd didn’t realize that, in fact, Jesus was a descendant of David and had been born in Bethlehem (see Matthew 1:1; 2:1-6; Luke 2:4-7,11 and comments). They thought He had been born in Galilee! The very passages from the Old Testament which the people were using to try to prove that Jesus was not the Messiah were, in fact, passages which proved that He was the Messiah!

43 The people were divided because of Jesus. In every age people are divided about Jesus (see Matthew 10:34; Luke 12:51). Some believe He is the Messiah, and some believe He is not. Each person must decide: Who is Jesus?

But there can only be two main opinions about Christ. Either He is the Messiah, the Son of God, like He said He was (Mark 14:62; John 4:26). Or He is a liar, or badly deluded, or demon-possessed. One must accept all of Christ’s teachings—or none of them.

Could a liar or lunatic have taught the way Christ taught? The answer is no. Therefore, what Jesus said about Himself must be true: He must be the Son of God, the Savior of the world (see John 10:19-21).

But it is not enough to say, “He is the Christ” (verse 41). That is only the first step. A person must then believe in his heart and obey (see Matthew 7:21 and comment).

44 Then Jesus’ enemies among the Jews wanted to capture Him, but God again prevented them. Jesus’ life was in God’s hands and under God’s control (see verse 30 and comment).

Unbelief of the Jewish Leaders (7:45-53)

45 The temple guards had been waiting for the right chance to arrest Jesus (verse 32). They didn’t want to seize Jesus violently in front of the crowd. They knew that many in the crowd believed in Him (verse 31). If they seized Jesus openly, there could be a riot. And if there was a riot, the Roman governor would be angry, because his job was to keep the peace.

46 But while the temple guards were waiting for the chance to seize Jesus, they listened to His words. And because of His words, they could not arrest Him. “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” they said.

47-49 The Jewish leaders rebuked the guards. “Has He deceived you also?” they asked sarcastically. They pointed out to the guards that none of the important Jews were following Jesus. Only the ignorant crowd followed Him. The crowd didn’t have a good knowledge of the Old Testament law. They didn’t keep the law. They were sinners. “… this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse upon them,” said the Jewish leaders (verse 49). They said this because in the Old Testament it is written: Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out (Deuteronomy 27:26).

The Jewish leaders were arrogant. They despised the common people. But the common people, in fact, followed the meaning and spirit of the law better than most of the Jewish leaders did.

50-51 However, there were some Jewish leaders that secretly believed in Christ (John 12:42-43). One of them was Nicodemus, a Pharisee, and a member of the ruling council of the Jews (see John 3:1; 19:39).

Nicodemus told his fellow leaders that according to Jewish law, a man should not be condemned until he had first had a fair trial. The Jewish leaders had condemned the crowd for not heeding the law. Now they weren’t heeding the law themselves. They called Christ a law-breaker, but in the effort to punish Him, they had become lawbreakers themselves.

52-53 The other Jewish leaders mocked Nicodemus. “Are you from Galilee, too?” they asked him. That is: “Are you one of His followers, too?”

Then the Jews said that no prophet had ever come from Galilee. But in this they were wrong. The prophet Jonah had come from Galilee (2 Kings 14:25), and perhaps other prophets had come from there also. God can raise up prophets from anywhere.