John 7 Part 3

Resumed from part 2

There are three questions that pop up in the middle of the festival as we move on in v.14 and following.
  1. The first one is- where did Jesus go to school? (v.15). In other words, how has this man become learned having never been educated? So Jesus answers them- heaven. He says His teaching is not Mine but His who sent Me. (v.16) He says I picked it up from another source, not an earthly source.
  2. The second question they’re going to ask Him in verses 25-27 is, where did You come from? Is not this the man whom they are seeking to kill? Look! He’s speaking publicly and they’re saying nothing to Him. However, we know where this man is from; but whenever the Christ may come, no one knows where He is from. Jesus says, actually, I’ve come forth from God and so He cries out and says, I know where I’ve come from and I have not come of Myself but He who sent Me. (v.28) So again His answer to the question- Where do you come from? – Is answered.
  3. The third question, as we’ll see, is in verse 35 where these people are going to be saying- where is He going? When He said, where I am, you cannot come- they wondered where is He going to be going? His answer is going to be the same answer He gave before. It’s going to be in heaven. He does not fit their categories at all. They ask these questions and they cannot really grasp fully what He’s talking about.
The Jews question His authority. So they were seeking Him at the feast and saying, “Where is He?” There was much grumbling among the crowds concerning Him. Some were saying, “He’s a good man.” Others were saying, “No, on the contrary, He leads people astray.” No one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews. So because of the fear of the Jewish leaders, they had to be private and quiet about this. The point is they were looking at contrary opinions. They were divided over this matter. Some said He was a good man and some said He led the people astray. The debate initially centered on Jesus’ character. Was He a good man or a deceiver?
The debate then shifts to doctrine. In v.14 in the middle of the feast, He begins to teach. He goes up into the temple. In v.15, the Jews were astonished and they asked, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” In other words, what’s Your qualification? Have You been ordained? Did You go to rabbinic school? What’s Your authority for Your teaching? You must understand concerning the word, rashooth that was the idea of authority. No one possessed inherent authority. It was always secondary and indirect. That’s where authority came from. It was passed down and conferred from Rabbi to Rabbi at ordination. The concept would be then that it would be secondary and indirect. Jesus is claiming a different kind of authority. He’s claiming a rashooth from heaven. He’s claiming to be a prophet. He’s claiming to have a direct understanding from God that does not need the rabbinic tradition. He didn’t need to go through that process in order to have this kind of authority. So they challenged Him. His answer was, “My teaching is not Mine but His who sent Me.”(v.16) “If anyone is willing to do His will He will know of the teaching, whether it is from God or whether I speak for Myself.”(v.17)
Now, this is a very important verse because Jesus is saying there is a moral and spiritual prerequisite to entering into spiritual knowledge. You don’t enter into spiritual knowledge like the way you’d enter into historical or mathematical or scientific knowledge. You don’t do it that way. You could study a textbook. I remember studying differential equations and now I go back to my notes and I can’t follow them anymore. I haven’t used them much lately. I can remember studying those and there was no moral or spiritual preliminary to learning that. You either did the work or you didn’t. It’s the same with physics, history, art, music or anything like that. There’s a matter of learning the material and disciplining yourself to learn it. But when it comes to spiritual truth, that’s another question entirely.
You don’t approach spiritual truth like you approach intellectual truth or some kind of a textbook. There is a moral willingness to receive. There are two key words here- humility and honesty. They are absolutely essential for gaining spiritual truth. You must be moving in this direction of grasping your true condition in this world and then honestly dealing with it. That is to say to be willing to receive God’s word for us and to be honest about our condition and then to be open to the truth that we would receive. If we come to the truth with the humility of willingness, that is to say, if anyone is willing to do His will, He’s referring to His Father’s will, then he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. (v.17) You see He’s saying then that this willingness is a critical issue. If I am willing, if I say, Lord, I believe, help my unbelief, which is that great line, at least you’re expressing openness and willingness. You don’t understand it all. That’s not the requirement. You’re not going to understand it all, I would even suppose to say you will never understand it all even after all of eternity. But if you’re willing to move in His direction, then you will know the truth and the Father will bear witness to it and then you will understand so that idea is a reciprocal relationship between knowledge and obedience.
Let me read Colossians 1:9-10 to illustrate that idea. In Colossians 1 is one of these great prayers that I encourage you to pray, one of these four life-changing prayers that Paul has offered. The others are found in Ephesians 1 and 3 and in Philippians 1. Paul says, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
So you have this idea of knowledge but this knowledge that he’s referring to is not an ordinary form of knowledge. It’s a form of experiential or relational knowledge. This experiential knowledge will actually affect your very walk. It goes back to the idea of being pleasing to God. What we’re seeing here is a reciprocal relationship between knowledge and obedience, between our attitude and our actions, between belief and behavior. We see here we must experience the authority of truth by a personal commitment to it. You’ve got to be committed to Jesus as your source of truth and then you can go from there. I promise you that pure skepticism will never open up the way. There comes a point where I have to, in humility, acknowledge my limitations, my weakness and then to say, Jesus, I don’t understand all that You’re offering but I want to know You. So in humility and openness, I wish to receive that gift of the life that You give me and approach You in that way, as a little child I come then in that kind of trust.
John 7:19, “Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” He’s putting Himself in the position that He’ll be comparing Himself to the new Moses who offers you something more than the Law. But even here with the Law, you cannot keep it.
John 7:20, “The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?” Now, this is the crowd, this is the multitude; it specifically calls it the multitudes of crowds, not the Jewish leaders at this point. They’ve come up to the feast. They have no idea about what was going on about the Jewish leaders wanting to kill Him. So they say, you’re nuts, in other words, You have a demon and the man’s crazy to think that. He must be paranoid.
John 7:21-22, “Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel. For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man.” He’s referring to John 5 and the healing they wanted to get Him for doing because He healed the man on the Sabbath. Jesus then uses the argument of the lesser to the greater. In other words, the actual law was this even though it’s a Sabbath, the circumcision is a higher thing. On the eighth day, you would circumcise the male child and if that happened to fall on the Sabbath, so be it. Jesus is using this analysis in verse 23. In other words, if there is a partial healing that goes on here, why would you be objecting to a full healing that I did also on the Sabbath? He argues there from the lesser to the greater.
John 7:24, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” Jesus is saying that He is using the very Law of Moses to refute His accusers. He knew that they wouldn’t listen because they’re going to use the wrong standard of judgment. It always comes down to this. People, by our nature, judge on the basis of outward appearances. Do we not? We judge in accordance with appearances. We cannot always know the hearts and motives of people. We think we know. In fact, we think we know it real well. I’m guilty of this as well as anyone else. I’m often in danger of attributing bad motives to people that they may not really have. I don’t even know my own motives. Paul says in I Corinthians 4, “How can I judge the motives of another?” He’s right. The fact is only Jesus knows our full motives and that will be revealed on the day of Christ. It would be well for us to realize though that we can judge and make wrong conclusions based on surface appearance, God knows the heart.
That’s why what appears to be secular work becomes spiritual if the focus of your heart is the eternal. Consider what your work might be- an architect, a teacher, an accountant, engaged in some specific craft, whatever your activity, your arena of influence-if you’re doing it to be serving and pleasing to God then it is as pleasing to Him as if a sermon or teacher does a good job before God. Do you see my point? That’s as spiritual as going to church is. So it’s not your work that’s the issue, it’s the focus of your heart and the audience to whom you play. That’s the issue.
Now by contrast what appears to be spiritual can be secular when the focus of your heart is the temporal. For example, if a person is ambitious and wants to let’s say become the biggest in his arena of influence- whether that be education, his denomination, his mission organization-guess what just happened? He appeared to be doing spiritual work didn’t he? After all, he’s in the ministry and yet actually what appeared to be spiritual just became secular because the focus of his heart was the temporal.
Now here’s the problem. You and I don’t see that. You see this guy and he’s a man of the cloth, he’s one who is in ministry- then here’s another person who is a person working in a factory and we naturally suppose- Oh, this one’s spiritual and this one is secular. Guess what? That has nothing to do with it. It’s the focus of your heart that makes the difference. We judge on the wrong appearances. Similarly, we hear a person say some things and we sometimes say, you know, I don’t believe I would’ve said that or we feel like this guy needs to grow and become more mature but the real issue before God is where he is with what he knows, not how much he knows. God’s more interested that you respond to what you know than He is in how much you do know. You see the difference again. So one person who knows a great deal may be less obedient than a person who knows a lot less but is good in application.
That’s why Rahab, the harlot, was included in the hall of faith in Hebrews 11. I promise you, Rahab didn’t know a lot but what little she knew she applied. The Pharisees, they knew a lot but they weren’t good by the way of application. Here’s another example of how this woman, Rahab, this Gentile woman, who had formerly been a harlot actually is more pleasing to the heart of God than a person who is a religious leader who knows 10 times as much spiritually. The issue is what are you doing with what you know rather than how much you know. Appearances can be deceptive.
They don’t really care how much you know until they know how much you care. I think it was Dwight Moody who said that but I’m not sure. It’s certainly that idea. It’s not a question of how much you know. That’s why Paul says knowledge puffs up but love builds up. He’s not against knowledge. In fact, his desire is that we grow in the real knowledge. His point is that knowledge without love is going to lead to arrogance. Love without knowledge can lead to sentimental slush. You want to have a combination of both not either or. You don’t want to be all head and no heart or all heart and no head. There’s a third one- all hands. I’ve seen images of all three. I’ve done this before but this is an illustration I’m fond of. Here’s a picture of a man with a big head and almost no body- they’re all cerebral. They’re like a cognitive machine. Then there are some people with a little pinhead but they’ve got this giant heart. Some people are really strong in the heart. Then there are other people who have these massive hands. My view is that it’s good to have all three there although some of us will naturally have a disposition toward one or the other. Even so, it’s good. That’s why you need the body of Christ because there are going to be people attracted to doing, being and to knowing. There’s a knowing element, there’s a being element and there’s a doing element. All three are there and there’s a purpose. We don’t want to go to extremes. There’s a balance going on. I’m suggesting then that you need to have the commitment to the authority of truth. Let me continue where we left off.
So Jesus then uses the Law of Moses to actually refute His accusers. In other words, they’re saying- we know where He comes from- Jesus of Nazareth- we know. The assumption was that when the Messiah comes He will come surprisingly and we won’t know whom He is.
John 7:27-28, “However, we know where this man is from; but whenever the Christ may come, no one knows where He is from. Then Jesus cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, “You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know.” In other words, He says, I know Him because I am from Him. He sent Me. It’s My answer to where do I comes from. It’s heaven. I came from the Father.
John 7:30, “So they were seeking to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come.” That’s the second time His hour is mentioned in this chapter.
John 7:31a, “But many of the crowd believed in Him.” This is an interesting image here. We have this conflict, a division, within their ranks. There were some who believed and some who did not. It’s a division we see throughout the gospel. Some express openness to Jesus whereas others express a tremendous hostility. They either deny Him or hold Him at arm’s length. In the end, you cannot be completely indifferent towards this One.
John 7:31b, “”When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?” You had the opposite of extremes- those seeking to kill Him or to say if the Christ comes, will He do more than this Man did?
John 7:32, “The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about Him, and the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to seize Him.” If you look in John 7:44-45, you will see they heard Him speak before they were supposed to seize Him and they actually left empty-handed. This doesn’t happen. There must’ve been a power, an authority, in Him and they saw it as stated in verse 46.
John 7:33-34, “Therefore Jesus said, “For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me. You will seek Me, and not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come.”
John 7:35, “The Jews then said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find Him? He is not intending to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks, is He?” That’s the one place where the Jews would not go. They would not be among the Greeks especially if they were orthodox Jews. They figured that the one place where He could go where they can’t go is there. He’s saying again, it’s that misunderstanding, an illustration, that unaided human understanding cannot grasp the mystery that He’s revealing.
John 7:36, “What is this statement that He said, “You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come?” The idea here is that Jesus would answer that the one place that I can come is going to be in fact, to My heavenly Father. It’s interesting that He said, “ Where I go, you cannot come.” What does He say to His men later on in chapter 14? I go to prepare a place so that where I am there you may be also. These people however who are unwilling to respond to Him will never be able to go where He goes. If a person wishes to know Him then He will prepare a place. There’s that contrast again. It comes down to the heart’s desire.
John 7:37, “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” The last day is the seventh day of the feast. During the Feast of the Tabernacles, each day they would carry water and there was the Gihon Spring, which flowed into the spring of Salom. A priest would go to that pool and fill a golden pitcher of water and then chant Isaiah 12:3, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Then that water would be carried up the hill to the Watergate. They’d be followed by crowds and the crowds would have in their right hand’s tree branches that were reminiscent of the desert booth and in their left hand they would hold citrus branches that were reminiscent of the harvest. They would then shake them and sing psalms, 113 to 118. Those psalms were the Psalms of the Ascent. When the procession arrived at the temple where it would end, the priest would climb the altar steps and he’d pour the water on the altar. The crowd would encircle him and continue to sing. Now on the seventh day, the last day, where we are right now, they wouldn’t do this just one time but they’d do it seven times- seven processionals like this.


Continued in part 4

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