The Gospel of John Commentary Chapters 1-11 (by chapter)

John 7 - Rivers of Life (and Division over Christ)

John 7:1-39 - Rivers of Life.

v1 After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not 
want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. 
v2 Now the Jews' Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. 
v3 His brothers therefore said to Him, "Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. 
v4 For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world." 
v5 For even His brothers did not believe in Him. 
v6 Then Jesus said to them, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. 
v7,8 The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come." 
v9 When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee. 

v10 But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the Feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. 
v11 Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, "Where is He?" 
v12 And there was much arguing among the people concerning Him. Some said, "He is good"; others said, "No, on the contrary, He deceives the people." 
v13 However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews. 

v14,15 Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, "How does this Man know letters, having never studied?" 

v16,17 Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. 
v18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. 

v19,20 Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?" The people answered and said, "You have a demon.  Who is seeking to kill You?" 

v21-24 Jesus answered and said to them, "I did one work, and you all marvel. Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement." 

v25-27 Now some of them from Jerusalem said, "Is this not He whom they seek to kill? But look! He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ? However, we know where this Man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from." 

v28,29 Then Jesus cried out, as He taught in the temple, saying, "You both know Me, and you know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me." 
v30 Therefore they sought to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. 
v31 And many of the people believed in Him saying, "When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?" 

v32 The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things about Him, and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him. 
v33,34 Then Jesus said to them, "I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me. You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come." 

v35,36 Then the Jews said among themselves, "Where does He intend to go that we shall not find Him? Does He intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? What did He mean, "You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come'?" 

v37-39 On the last day, that great day of the Feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. 

John 7 marks a new phase in Jesus’ ministry, when the focus moves from Galilee (v1) to Jerusalem (v10) for His last 6 months before His death (Tabernacles 32 - Passover 33). The action either takes place in Jerusalem or in one of four extended journeys to Jerusalem: 

(1) John 7:10-10:21 (secretly to Jerusalem for Tabernacles, October 32), 
(2) Luke 9:51-13:21, John 10:22-39 (to Jerusalem for the Feast of Dedication, January 33) 
(3) John 10:40-42, Luke 13:22-17:10, John 11:1-53 (from Jerusalem, touring Perea, 
before returning to Jerusalem (Bethany) to raise Lazarus in March 33). 
(4) John 11:54, Luke 17:11-19:28, Matthew19:1-20:34, Mark 10:1-52, John 11:55-12:1 - from Jerusalem to Ephraim and then north through Samaria to the Galilee border, then south through Perea back to Jerusalem for the Passover where He remained until His death. 

The setting of John 7 is the Feast of Tabernacles, in October AD 32 (v2), the 3rd and final great Feast of the year and also the most joyful. For at this time all of Israel celebrated the fulfilment of God’s promises. The action moves towards the great climax of one of His greatest declarations (v37-39), where He claims to be the One who fulfils the Feast.

The Feast had various names: 
(1) The Feast of the Ingathering (Harvest Festival) The whole Harvest was in and so they thanked God and rejoiced in His provision, especially for sending rain from Heaven that made it all possible. They also looked forward to the next year’s Harvest, praying for God to send the rain for it. Ultimately they looked forward to the time of Messiah, for all the Feasts would only be finally fulfilled by the Messiah Himself. So there were many prayers for Messiah’s Coming, especially on the Last Day - called ‘the Great Hosanna’. 

They sung Psalms 113-118 which climax with the prayer that welcomes Messiah’s Coming: “Save now (HOSANNA!) we beseech You, O Lord. O Lord, we beseech You, send now prosperity (salvation). Blessed be He who comes in the name of the Lord” (Psalm 118:25,26). It was prophesied that when He comes, He would pour out the rain of His Spirit upon all, the Harvest of the earth would be reaped and gathered in, and He would reign over the earth. So the Feast is a prophetic picture of Christ. He fulfilled it spiritually in His First Coming, and will fulfil it physically when He comes again. When Christ returns this Feast will be celebrated at the start of the Millennium and will continue to be the main Feast, celebrating God’s fulfilment of all His promises: (1) the completed, ingathered Harvest of people, (2) the abundant rain (the Spirit outpoured), (3) His abundant provision and prosperity, (4) His Kingdom of righteousness and peace over all.

(2) The Festival of Booths. For the week they lived in temporary booths (huts or tents). This was to remember their 40 years in the Wilderness. On the 8th Day they had an extra celebration of the fact that they had now come into the Promised Land. This was also looking forward prophetically to the time Messiah would come and bring them into their full inheritance (both spiritually and physically). 

It is in this setting that Jesus must make His dramatic declaration - that He alone will fulfil the Feast
. Before we get to this, we are given the build up to it, which gives it greater impact when we see the courage and wisdom it took for Jesus to position Himself to make this vital announcement.   

1. The Jewish Leaders waiting to kill Him: “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. Now the Jews' Feast of Tabernacles was at hand” (v1,2). 
We are now 6 months before the Cross, and we are already in its shadow. It was a dangerous time for Jesus, for He had to go to the Feast. They knew this and were looking out for Him.
 

2. He had a foolish family to distract Him: 
“His brothers therefore said to Him, "Depart from here and go to Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works 
(signs) that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world. For even His brothers did not believe in Him” (v3-5). In their carnal thinking they suggested He should promote Himself, not knowing the danger He was in. He had to walk in God’s will. 

“Then Jesus said to them, "My time (to go up) has not yet come, but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil (He could not go with them in public, because of the threat against Him. He had to be careful to walk in God’s timing. You go up to this Feast (‘join the caravan, go with the crowd of pilgrims’). I am not yet going up to this Feast, for My time has not yet fully come." When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee. But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the Feast, not openly, but as it were in secret” (v6-10). 
The law required Him to go to the Feast, but He had to do it in God’s way. 

3. “Then the Jews sought Him at the Feast (to kill Him) and said: "Where is He?" And there was much murmuring among the people concerning Him. Some said, "He is good"; others said, "No, on the contrary, He deceives the people." However, none spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews” (v11-13). We see here that it was public knowledge that the leaders were hostile to Jesus and planned His death. 

4. Finally Jesus appeared in public:
 “Now about the middle of the Feast, Jesus went up into the Temple and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, "How does this man know letters, having never studied?" Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine (teaching) is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether Ispeak on My own authority.” 

This is a key verse on knowing God’s guidance. Our ability to hear from God depends on whether our motives are right. If our desire and will is to know and to do His will, then we will recognise what it is. We must establish this in our heart by praying: ‘Your will be done, not mine.’ Then He can form His desires in our heart (Psalm 37:4). “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him” (v14-18). The mark of a true Teacher is that he glorifies God, and not himself.   They would have seen this in Jesus. 

5. Jesus accuses them of planning His murder: “Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?" The people answered saying, "You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill You?" 
(v19,20). They were guilty of lying, for they knew He spoke the truth.

6. Jesus answers the accusations against Him: “Jesus answered and said to them, "I did one work (miracle) and you all marvel ( for they thought He broke the Sabbath by healing a man - see John 5). Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? Don’t judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement" (v21-24).    Thus healing a man on the Sabbath does not break the Law, but fulfils it (by love - Matt 22:36-39) 

7. They tried to take Him, but failed: “Now some of them from Jerusalem said, "Is this not He whom they seek to kill? But look! He speaks boldly 
(publicly) and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ?” Then they answer their own question in the negative: “However, we know where this Man is from (they are wrong) but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from (wrong again!)"(v25-27). 

“Then Jesus cried out as He taught in the Temple (knowing their thoughts), saying, "You both know Me (do you?) and you know where I am from (do you?), I have not come of Myself, but He (the Father) who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me" (v28,29).   

“Therefore, they sought to take (arrest and kill) Him, but no one laid 
a hand on Him, because His hour (to die) had not yet come” (v30). 

The only reason they could not touch Him was God. Since He walked in God’s will, fulfilling God’s mission, He was shielded by God, and His enemies could not touch Him. There was nothing satan could do to stop Him. This truth applies to us today. 

“Many believed in Him, saying, "When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this man has done? The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things concerning Him, and the Pharisees and the Chief Priests sent officers (again!) to take Him” (v31,32). 

“Then Jesus said to them, "I shall be with you a little while longer (another 6 months), and then I go (ascend) to Him (the Father) who sent Me. You (Israel) will seek Me and not find Me (the Messiah), and where I am (Heaven) you cannot come" (v33,34). This was a prophetic word of judgement.  Those who reject Jesus Christ will seek the answers to life but not find them, and though they seek a way to Heaven they will not find it. “Then the Jews said among themselves, "Where does He intend to go that we shall not find Him? Does He intend to go to the (Jewish) Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks (Gentiles)? (v35, this was an unwitting prophecy of what Christ would do in the Church-Age-see Book of Acts). They were puzzled by this saying (v36). 

8. The Last Day Knowing His enemies were out to kill Him, Jesus had been very careful to walk in God’s plan. They thought they had limited His impact, but He had saved His best until last! Each Day of Tabernacles there was a special Water Ceremony. A priest would go with a procession to the Pool of Siloam to collect water which would then be poured out under the altar, after they had marched around it. On the Last Day this was done with great rejoicing and prayers, and they marched around it 7 times. This looked back to Jericho and the possession of the Promised Land and God’s faithful provision of rain. But it also looked forward to the Messiah who would truly fulfil the Feast. He would bring Israel into her full inheritance (her Land) and pour out His Spirit upon all believers. The air was filled with loud praise and prayer for Messiah to come and fulfil the Feast, so much so that this Day was called “the Great Hosanna” (meaning: ‘Come, save now’).  When the ceremony was done, a quietness descended. 

At last the time had come for Christ to make His great Announcement: “Your prayers are answered, I am here.” Everything had been preparing the way for this: 

“On the Last (the 7th) Day, that Great Day of the Feast, Jesus stood and cried out (loudly and courageously to the assembled thousands),saying: "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink (‘I am the Source of Life’). 
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, 
“out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." 

The Bible said that Messiah would come and pour out God’s Spirit upon all believers, with such abundance that we will not just be blessed (filled and satisfied), but that we would also overflow with the Spirit (be a blessing to others, Psalm 23:5). 

The invitation is to ‘anyone’, the only precondition is to have ‘thirst’ (desire for God’s life), to receive we must ‘come to Jesus’ (for He is the only Source of God’s life) and ‘drink’ (personally receive by faith). 

John then explains when this was fulfilled
: “But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him (Jesus) would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified”(v37-39). 

He had to first die on the cross to pay for the outpouring of the Spirit, then rise again and ascend into heaven to receive it from the Father, and then freely pour out the Holy- Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts2:33). So now all who thirst for supernatural life must cometo the crucified, risen and ascended Jesus in faith, to drink from the water of life that He continually pours forth. 

“He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev 22:1). 
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts” (Rev 21:6). 
“Let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev 22:17). 
 

John 7:40-53 - The Division over Christ.
After He made His great Declaration in John 737-39, the division over Christ intensified. 

v40 Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this Saying, said, "Truly this is the Prophet." (Deut 18:18) 
v41,42 Others said, "This is the Christ."  But some said, "Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was (Micah5:2)?" 

Of course, had they checked the Temple records they would have seen He was born in Bethlehem. The Leaders, with access to the Temple records knew Jesus was of the royal Davidic line and was born in Bethlehem, but they suppressed this information, having already made up their minds against Him, as their response to Nicodemus showed (in v47-52).

v43 So there was a division among the people because of Him. 

v44 Now some of them wanted to take (arrest) Him, but no one laid hands on Him. When they again sent officials to arrest Him; none of them could lay hands on Him, for God restrained them.

v45 Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, "Why have you not brought Him (to us)?" 
v46 The officers answered, "No man ever spoke like this Man!" 
When they heard Him speak, God’s anointing on Him so overwhelmed them that they couldn’t move against Him.

v47 Then the Pharisees answered them, "Are you also deceived? 
v48 Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? 
v49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed."
They have to resort to insults to try and convince the people!

v50,51 Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, "Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?" 
v52 They answered and said to him, "Are you also from Galilee?   Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee." 
v53 And everyone went to his own house.

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