John 7:25–53—Division & Unbelief
25 Some of the people who lived in Jerusalem started to ask each other, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 But here he is, speaking in public, and they say nothing to him. Could our leaders possibly believe that he is the Messiah? 27 But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.”
28 While Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he called out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I’m not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him. 29 But I know him because I come from him, and he sent me to you.”30 Then the leaders tried to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his timehad not yet come.
31 Many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him. “After all,” they said, “would you expect the Messiah to do more miraculous signs than this man has done?”
32 When the Pharisees heard that the crowds were whispering such things, they and the leading priests sent Temple guards to arrest Jesus. 33 But Jesus told them, “I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me. 34 You will search for me but not find me. And you cannot go where I am going.”
35 The Jewish leaders were puzzled by this statement. “Where is he planning to go?” they asked. “Is he thinking of leaving the country and going to the Jews in other lands? Maybe he will even teach the Greeks! 36 What does he mean when he says, ‘You will search for me but not find me,’ and ‘You cannot go where I am going’?”
37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” 39 (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)
40 When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” 43 So the crowd was divided about him. 44 Some even wanted him arrested, but no one laid a hand on him.
45 When the Temple guards returned without having arrested Jesus, the leading priests and Pharisees demanded, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”
46 “We have never heard anyone speak like this!” the guards responded.
47 “Have you been led astray, too?” the Pharisees mocked. 48 “Is there a single one of us rulers or Pharisees who believes in him? 49 This foolish crowd follows him, but they are ignorant of the law. God’s curse is on them!”
50 Then Nicodemus, the leader who had met with Jesus earlier, spoke up. 51 “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?” he asked.
52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself—no prophet ever comes from Galilee!”
53 Then the meeting broke up, and everybody went home.
Points of Interest
- ‘Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill?’—apparently the religious leaders’ desire to kill Jesus isn’t some private thought. It’s public knowledge. That being the case, everyone is confused as to why they would hold back. The crowds come up with the radical idea that the leaders know Jesus is the Messiah, and have nonetheless pitted themselves against him. They want to eliminate him, but they are—understandably—afraid of what might happen if they try, him being God’s Special Agent and all.
- ‘I know him because I come from him’—in a way, they know where he comes from; he’s Joseph and Mary’s boy from Nazareth. In a more important way, they don’t. They cannot see that he is a messenger sent from God.
- ‘his timehad not yet come’—Jesus sort of jumps the gun by coming out publicly at the feast, and the leaders respond in kind. But, as Jesus had told his brothers (7:6), the timing is indeed not right. Mysteriously, he is protected from harm.
- ‘he was speaking of the Spirit’—this time, John preemptively interprets for us: ‘He’s not talking about actual water. It’s a metaphor for the Holy Spirit’—as it was also in Isaiah 44, by the way.
- ‘But the Spirit had not yet been given’—everything we have seen so far is just a preview of what is still coming. Jesus has not yet gotten around to his real work of, as John the Baptist put it, baptizing with the Spirit (1:32-33).
- ‘We have never heard anyone speak like this!’—to the religious leaders’ exasperation, even the police recognize the signs. When they find the man they’ve been sent to arrest, they think, ‘Surely, they can’t mean him.’ He seems an awful lot more like a Messiah than a criminal.
Taking It Home
- For you: Most of us like to think of ourselves as individuals who make up our own minds about things, but maybe we’re a little more like the masses that follow Jesus than we like to admit; for better and worse, the ‘crowd’ around us helps to shape our view about who Jesus is. In today’s passage, the crowd works together to figure out who Jesus is. Who are the people around you that help you better know Jesus? Do you feel like you have a great community of people around you, or is your primary community distracting you or pushing you further from Jesus? Ask God for an abundance of godly friends who will help you get a good picture of Jesus. If you have friends who are doing that for you, shoot them an email, text, or card to tell them what they mean to you.
- For your 6: Jesus’ listeners are almost always operating on a strictly physical level, and Jesus is almost always seeing things from a spiritual level. It seems like understanding what’s going on at a spiritual level sheds a lot of light on to what is happening on a natural level. Ask Jesus for spiritual insight as to what is going on with your 6. Ask Jesus to speak beyond what you can see and know on your terms and to give you discernment as to spiritually what is happening for your 6. Next time you’re talking with your 6, ask Jesus to make you aware of what is happening spiritually.
- For our church: Ask Jesus to fill our church with the Holy Spirit. Pray that he would fill each and every person who feels like they are running a little dry. Pray that during the Leap of Faith Jesus would meet our entire church in a fresh new experience of his presence.