John 7:1. He would not walk in Jewry, or Judea, because the jews sought to kill him. Herod had recently beheaded John, pleading the magnitude of his auditories; now, the jews magnified the same plea against the Saviour, and were eager to follow the royal example in destroying him. As they judged themselves unworthy of eternal life, he made ministerial tours through other parts of the land, where his word was hailed as the gospel of the heavenly kingdom.
John 7:2. The feast of tabernacles. See Leviticus 23. We find the Saviour attending the Hebrew feasts, to honour the institutions of heaven, and give a good example to men.
John 7:8. Go ye up to this feast. I go not up yet. He knew the designs which the jews had formed against his life, and therefore would not provoke their enmity. Neither would he allow his carnal relatives to say that he would soon be there. He kept his enemies in suspense, and allowed the flock to hunger awhile for the word of life, and to indulge in the discussion of his character.
John 7:12. Some said he is a good man. These were jews of dignity, who were in little danger while they used the word man; but they did not confess him as the Christ for fear of persecution. It is perfect love only that casteth out fear.
John 7:14. About the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. As soon as the reading of the service was over, he stood up by the divine right of all the ancient prophets. Those holy seers having a message from God, must not ask leave of man whether they should deliver it or not. — This was the middle of the feast when the people were more largely gathered from the country; and though the Lord had withdrawn himself from the malice of the scribes, he had compassion on the sheep of Israel going astray. When he stood up, and took the people by surprise, the unnumbered crowds gathered round to hear him expound the law and the prophets in original excellence of doctrine. The soul lifted up the ear. What silence, what attention; and oh how their countenances would brighten at every luminous word which fell from his lips. His enemies stood at a distance, grinding their teeth, and awed by the multitude.
John 7:15. How knoweth this man letters, having never learned. A learned man, though he may hide himself, and speak in the simple words of the people, is presently known. His ideas are clear, his words are pure, his figures appropriate, and the scholar is developed. So now, beams of light darted from the fountain of eloquence which dwelt in his breast. His hearers on this grand occasion were a fair association of the Hebrew nation: and when all ranks of men were deeply interested in his discourse, he diverted the course of the adulatory cloud to the glory of the Father, as in the next words.
John 7:16. My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. Christ often makes a distinction between his divine and human nature. Concerning his humanity, he told the disciples that he was going to leave the world. John 16:7; John 16:28. But concerning his divine nature he says, Lo I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Matthew 28:20. Hence, when he ascribes his doctrine to the Father, he speaks of himself modestly as a prophet, whose duty it is to magnify Him that sent him.
John 7:17. If any man will do his will, he shall, in the paths of piety and obedience, receive a witness in his own breast that my doctrine is of God. If we seek for truth, we must renounce the giddy scenes of life, and approach the heavenly throne with humility of heart. Then the truth will make us free from the fear of man.
John 7:20. Thou hast a devil. A wicked word from one of the scribes. The common people had no idea that the jewish council sought to kill him, and those who knew it were ashamed to avow it; therefore this was vulgarly said by some unbeliever, as though Jesus had an evil genius, who drove him out of his mind.
John 7:21-24. I have done one work, and ye all marvel, referring to his having healed on the sabbath day a man who had been lame for thirty eight years, as in John 5:5. Now Moses enjoined, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had done before, that every male must be circumcised on the eighth day. Why then seek to kill me for healing on that day, seeing you yourselves wound, and apply the healing salve on that day? They could not reply, but their malice still remained.
John 7:27. When Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is. This is a striking confession of the ignorance of the jews, for many of the prophets had announced his descent in David’s line. Isaiah 11:1. Ezekiel 24. Micah also had said that he should be born in Bethlehem. And as to his divine nature, the veil was on their hearts. They overlooked the scriptures declaring that he came from the bosom of the Father, and that his generation was unutterable. Proverbs 8:22. John 1:18. Truly, men perish for want of knowledge. — If we go to the rabbins, the veil of darkness and unbelief is unremoved. They say he must be born in Bethlehem, and then go away, and hide himself for an unknown period of years, and then come and save them. Rabbi Jotten, as quoted on Psalms 85:11, said that the Messiah should not be born as other men, but spring as a humble plant out of the earth.
John 7:28-29. Then cried Jesus in the temple — ye both know me, and ye know whence I am. When men have rebutted certain divine truths, we must enforce them in stronger words, for our salvation is connected with a right knowledge of the person and glory of Christ. We, like the jews, know whence he is, as to the flesh, but we must know his divinity, and who it is that sent him into the world, saying, “They will reverence my Son.” This truth the Saviour uttered in the most open manner. I know him, for I am from him, and he hath sent me. — Then the jews knew that he spake of his divinity, and sought to lay hands upon him, and to put him to death for blasphemy.
John 7:34. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me. He repeated these words in John 8:21. The jews now sought to kill him; and had done so more deliberately in council, after the resurrection of Lazarus, but they could not find him: he had retired to finish his ministry in the cities of Ephraim. They sought his body also after the resurrection, but could not find it. Their sin therefore was the bar of separation, both in this and in the future world. When they cried in all the anguish of rebels not entitled to mercy, there was no Isaiah to stand in the gap; and no Elisha to obtain a reprieve for Samaria.
John 7:37. If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink. The feast of tabernacles was held during the sultry season. Hence the Lord made a most apt and reviving improvement of the people’s thirst, and opened the fountain of life freely as the pool of Siloam. Our Saviour spake here both of the ordinary, and of the extraordinary graces of the Holy Spirit. And water is highly expressive of his operations in conveying pardon, peace, and purity to the soul that thirsts for God more than the hart, the hunted hart, for the cooling streams.
Christ is the smitten rock, whence this water flows into the believing soul; and the sprinkling of this water cleanses from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. When Christ has washed our feet, our hands, our head, our heart, he adds, now ye are clean.
Water quenches our thirst, and the waters of grace satisfy the soul. He that drinketh of these waters shall thirst no more for the muddy streams of sin. Whom have I in heaven but thee; and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee. He that believeth on the Lord Jesus shall never thirst. John 4:10; John 6:35.
The waters of grace are also abundant. Peace flows as a river in the obedient soul. See Isaiah 48:18. The waters flow freely, without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1. They flow as a river, and extensively as the whole paradise or church of Christ. And whosoever will, may take of the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17. Yes, and as the river sprung up in the temple, Ezekiel 47., so these waters shall abound in the soul of him who is made a temple of God by regeneration. He who comes shall drink so copiously, that emanations of grace shall flow from his words and his work; yea, in the sanctuary he shall have a fountain of eloquence in his own breast.
Believer, it is happy when thy soul is favoured with times of rain or refreshing from the presence of the Lord. Only sink into the depths of humility, and into the habitual exercise of faith, and this celestial river shall make thy heart a constant paradise. Thou shalt say with Ambrose, “Where’er I go, where’er I rove, I meet the object of my love.”
John 7:39. The Holy Ghost was not yet given, in all its plenitude of grace and gifts, as on the day of pentecost; nor yet to the gentiles, as when it fell on the devout people assembled in the house of Cornelius. Acts 10:44.
John 7:40-41. Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, of a truth this is the Prophet, of whom Moses wrote. Deuteronomy 18:15. Others, who had tasted the good word of God, and drank of the fountain of life, spake more boldly, and said, this is the Christ. These were the fruits of his divine discourse. His words of grace, his looks of love, had gained their hearts.
John 7:50-51. Nicodemus saith — doth our law judge any man before it hear him. Still timid, but sincere, he ventures to defend the Saviour, so far as to ask impartial justice; and this one word had the good effect of confounding and breaking up the murderous plot. “Every man went to his own house.”
We are struck here with the divine prudence of the Redeemer in coming late to the feast, by which he disconcerted the complots of his enemies, who sought him for evil at the feast. He at the same time rejoiced the hearts of his friends by his unexpected appearance, which was as a refreshing cloud on the parched lands.
As a preacher, and alike the minister of justice and grace, we admire his boldness in charging home on the pharisees their designs of murdering him, as their ancient fathers had killed the prophets of the Lord, and that indeed because of a word only — “Take up thy bed, and walk.” Who but the Lord durst have told the doctors, high in power, so terrific a truth? There are proper occasions when the ministers of Christ must use the two-edged sword. Are men for ever to go on in most grievous sins, and never be told the truth?
They in return spat their venom, χολατε, their gall, their indignation against the Lord, and said that he had a demon: who went about to destroy him? Jesus used that most conclusive argument, that he had as much right to heal as they had to wound on the sabbath day by circumcision. But all was of no avail: that class of his hearers were given over to a reprobate mind, and allowed, like Judas, to fulfil the scriptures in crucifying the Lord of glory.
While the jews calumniated the Saviour in the foulest language, he declared his mission as exclusively from the Father, and abated nothing of his glory. I am not come of myself; but he that sent me is true. I know him, for I came from him. Thus the Holy One, who is in the bosom of the Father, “is the true God, and eternal life, which was with the Father before the world was.”
In a word, the Saviour kept for the people the best wine to the last. After those most grievous vexations with their rulers, he would not send them home without a sweet draught of the fountain of life. In that sultry season when the people were thirsting for water, he cried, If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink. The rock of Horeb still gives life to a fainting nation. The fountain of living waters still flows from the threshold of the sanctuary; the stream grows deeper and wider, and heals the earth, the barren deserts of the gentile world, and covers them with perennial beauty, with righteousness abounding like the waves of the sea. — Lord, ever give me this living water, that I thirst not, nor come to earthly wells to draw.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on John 7". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Easter