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Jesus keepeth the Feast of Tabernacles. He teacheth in the Temple. The Scribes and Pharisees are more and more enraged at him.
After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him. (2) Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand. (3) His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. (4) For there is no man that doeth anything in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. (5) For neither did his brethren believe in him. (6) Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come; but your time is alway ready. (7) The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. (8) Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come. (9) When be had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee.
The feast of tabernacles was one of the three great Jewish festivals in the Church. Leviticus 23:39 ; Deuteronomy 16:16 . The brethren of Jesus here spoken of, were not his brethren in grace, neither in nature, for Joseph was not the real, but the reputed father of Christ. Neither is it certain that Mary had any other child. See Matthew 12:46 and Commentary. And those who are called brethren of Christ, were the sons of Alpheus, the brother of Joseph, and according to Jewish customs, from being brought up with Christ were called brethren, and these were all believers; and James, and Simon, and Judas, were of the number of the Apostles. But I pass over the consideration of these things, as of lesser import, to attend to what is infinitely more interesting, the Person, and Work, and Offices of the Lord Jesus. This chapter is very highly interesting on this point.
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. (3l) 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 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?
It is very blessed to behold Christ going up to keep this ordinance, in the fulfilling the whole law. And we have abundant reason to bless him that he did, for the Church would have lost this divine Sermon, which this chapter records, had he not gone there. Yea, indeed, as this was the last public preaching of Jesus, at the feast of tabernacles, it merits the attention of his people the more, as being decisive to the great points of his doctrine.
I need not go over the several features of it. The language of our Lord is designed, as it was delivered, for popular use; and, like the Prophet's vision, he that runs may read it. But I beg to make one observation upon it, which I hope may not be unprofitable. It is blessed to see that then, as now, though Christ himself was the preacher, the same effects always follow. To some it is the savor of life unto life; to others of death unto death. And Jesus himself hath assigned the cause. My sheep (saith he) hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 . But to the ungodly, the Lord saith, Ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. John 8:47 .
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.
I would beg to pause over this short but powerful sermon of Jesus, on the last day of the feast. The Lord knew that all his public ministry was now closing, He stood therefore and cried. Reader! I pray you to turn to Proverbs 8:1 to the end. Isaiah 55:1-4 ; Revelation 3:20 . And let it not be forgotten, that as Christ ended his public preaching with this cry, so did the Holy Ghost close the sacred canon of scripture with words to the same effect. Revelation 22:16-17 .
I leave the Reader to form his own conclusions as to the result of such powerful preaching on the minds of the people. We read indeed of the different effects. Some were overawed, like the buyers and sellers in the temple, for the moment, and said, of a truth this is the Prophet. Others, hardened, still contended that it could nor be. And some, more daring than the rest, would have seized Christ? Reader! pause and contemplate the awful state of Adam-nature by the fall. Though Jesus sweetly gave the gracious invitation to the thirsty soul, yet we read of none that thirsted.
The observation of the Evangelist, which is inclosed within a parenthesis at John 7:39 , is worthy our closest regard. How blessed is it to have our Lord's words so fully explained, in reference to the Holy Ghost. And how doubly blessed when kindred souls are made sensible of that influence, in their own experience? I beg the Reader to observe in this verse the word given, that it is in Italics, meaning that it is not in the original. And I would desire, with all due respect to the labors of our most able translators, to substitute for it rather the word come: for the Holy Ghost was not indeed yet come in all that plenitude of power, in which he was to come after Christ's return to glory; but God the Spirit had always been in his Church, and manifesting grace to his people in all ages. The spirit of Christ, saith Peter, was in the Prophets, when testifying beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory which should follow. 1 Peter 1:11 . And every child of God under the Old Testament dispensation, as well as under the New, are alike partakers in his quickening, regenerating, and renewing mercy. Nehemiah 9:20 . But, when it is said that the Holy Ghost was not yet given, or come, it is meant in respect to that more open display of his Almighty power, which was reserved for the latter day glory, when those promises were to be eminently fulfilled. Isaiah 44:3-5 ; Joel 2:28 ; Acts 2:1 , etc. The kingdom of grace, in the ordination of the Apostles and first preachers of the Gospel, was to be introduced, with visible marks of the personality and Godhead of the Holy Ghost, as the Almighty and Sovereign Minister in the Church of God. See John 14:0 and Commentary.
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.
Every word here is so plain as to need no comment. I only think it necessary to detain the Reader to enquire, whether he hath so heard the words of the Lord Jesus, as to say, as those men were compelled to say, Never man spake like this man! Every truly regenerated child of God feels constrained to say so. For, when a man is brought from the Adam-nature of sin and corruption, in which he, and every son of Adam was born, into a state of adoption and grace in Christ, he then knows the joyful sound, and is led to walk in the light of God's countenance. He will be the first to join in the same conviction, never man spake like the God-Man Christ Jesus. And he will enter into an heartfelt enjoyment of what the Lord hath said, for he knows the truth by his own personal experience, the words that I speak unto you, (saith Jesus,) they are Spirit, and they are Life. John 6:63 . Reader! the grand question, as it concerns yourself, is, are they so to you? Oh! the blessedness of knowing and enjoying the quickening, life-giving, soul-renewing, soul-strengthening grace of God the Spirit, in daily, hourly communications from the Lord Jesus, and living to Jesus, by a life of faith on the Son of God! Our need of Christ will become a sweet and sanctified mercy, constraining to go to Christ for the supply of all that we need, and giving continual cause for running on errands to the Lord, to his mercy seat and pardon office, that we may be unceasingly receiving out of his fulness and grace for grace!
Reader! behold the glories of the Lord Jesus, as set forth in this chapter. Say! do not the accumulated testimonies to his eternal power and Godhead, shine like the rich constellation of the heavenly bodies, in one full cluster? And in his Mediator-character no less, behold, what rich and splendid proofs the Lord manifested, that his doctrine was of God! But yet we are told, that even his brethren believed not on him! How should they, who were no brethren in the grace-union of his body the Church, but only brethren in the Jewish nation and character, after the flesh? Ah! no. All are not Israel, which are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children. What hath the Ishmaels, and the Esaus, to do with the covenant? Oh! the distinguishing grace of God! oh! the blessedness of the children of promise!
Dearest Lord Jesus! do thou condescend still to come to our feasts, by the sweet manifestations of thy Spirit. For without thy presence, the richest ordinances have no savor. All the stars in the firmament to our world, will not make one sun. And where Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness is not, it is in vain to look for light, or warmth, from all our services. But if my Lord come up to his banquetting house the Church, and cause his redeemed to sit under his shadow with great delight, then shall the whole Jerusalem of our God upon earth, like the Jerusalem of our God which is above, be feasted with the same love of Jesus. Then shall that scripture promise be fulfilled; we shall suck and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations, and milk out and be delighted with the abundance of her glory!
Reader! let you and I be continually seeking grace from the Lord, that under this divine discourse of Jesus, brought home to our warmest affection by the gracious teachings of God the Holy Ghost, we may each for ourselves be enabled to set our seals that God is true. And Surely, my brother, if so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, however you behold Jesus as a stumbling block, and a rock of offence to those blind rulers in Israel, to you he will be more precious, more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey. everyone who is made partaker of the grace in Jesus, will confess his graciousness, and know that never man spake like this man! Dearest Master! may it be my portion to derive all that is truly blessed and desirable in the present life from thee; for sure I am all that is truly glorious in another can only flow from thee. And be it, my honored Lord, my supreme happiness to live upon what Jesus is to me, and hath done for me, and not upon any supposed attainments of mine in following after thee. Indeed, indeed, thou Almighty Savior, the sole joy of the Church, both above and below, can only be in thyself, as that sweet scripture most blessedly confirms, In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on John 7". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany