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John, Chapter 8, Part 2

John 8:12 – Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Jesus just finished dealing with the woman caught in adultery.  He quickly and completely shut down the plan of the Pharisees to ensnare him in a controversy that could have potentially ended his ministry and/or his life.

At the same time, he shows the mercy of God to the woman who deserved death (according to the law).  He forgives her sin and sends her on her way with the command to sin no more. 

This shows that Jesus doesn’t just teach with words; he teaches by example.  This is one of the attributes that makes him a good leader.  Anyone can talk about forgiveness or mercy, but Jesus shows us how to shower these blessings on a confused and desperate world.    

To start with, we note that Jesus did not immediately condemn this woman, even though she was guilty of sin.  He did not embarrass her in front of the crowd, nor did he pound his fist on the ground and tell her she was going to hell. 

Why is that?  For one thing, those who are caught in the web of Satan have an immediate need for mercy/grace, not judgment. 

Mark 2:16-17 – And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with tax collectors and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?  When Jesus heard it, he said unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Many Christians, perhaps unwittingly, decide which sins they will accept in other people and which sins they will not.  For example, there are Christians who are willing to forgive people who have an addiction to alcohol, but they immediately condemn and dismiss a person who is addicted to drugs.  Some Christians are willing to support women and men involved in an adulterous relationship, but they turn their backs on people who are confused about their gender.     

In God’s eyes, sin is sin.  ALL those who are caught in Satan’s snare are in need of God’s love.  When dealing with the lost, we should follow the example of Jesus as he dealt with the woman caught in adultery – he demonstrated the love and grace of God without affirming her sin or life choices.  

This is a powerful key in relating to the lost.  Most of them are expecting judgment from you, so when you show mercy it tells them something is ‘different’ about you. This opens the door for you to share the gospel message.

Once Jesus had shown her the mercy of God, then he privately addressed the issue of her sin.  For us, it is best to establish a solid relationship with the lost before we approach the topic of their sin.    

Jesus then reaffirms that he is the light of the world.  As we discussed in John chapter 1, nothing on earth would survive without the light of the sun.  The same is true in the spiritual realm – none of us could live spiritually without the Son.  It is our privilege to give the world a glimpse of spiritual life in Christ.

Here is something interesting to consider:  Although the woman in John chapter 8 saw the light of Christ while in the temple, that is NOT true for most people, because the vast majority of sinners aren’t attending church.  For most of them the only glimpse of Jesus they will get is the one they see in you. 

Let me repeat that:  For most sinners, the only glimpse of Jesus they will get is the one they see in you.  

Therefore, it is imperative that the light of Christ is shining brightly in our own lives (Matthew 5:16).  It is essential that we offer his love and grace to the lost.  Jesus has done his part – he shed his blood so we could be set free from sin.  Now we need to do our part and show that grace to those who need it most.  

John 8:13 – So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” 

When Jesus declares to the religious leaders that he is the light of the world, they immediately oppose him. 

As we have discussed in earlier studies, the Law required two witnesses for a testimony to be accepted as true.  Since Jesus is testifying about himself, the Pharisees reject his testimony as false.

However, they are spiritually blind.  All Jews believed that only God could work miracles.  Since Jesus was working miracles by the hundreds, God was surely confirming that Jesus was the Messiah. 

John 8:14 – Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.”

Jesus responds by basically saying he is an exception to this rule. 

The law demanded two witnesses because men are sinful and they often speak from a spirit of pride or falsehood.  In other words, human beings will lie or deceive to gain an advantage or to make themselves look good.  But Jesus is not a mere man.  As the divine Son of God, he never promotes himself or his own agenda.  He says and does only what the Father has commanded him.  Therefore, this law doesn’t really apply to him (John 5:30-32).

Furthermore, Jesus points out that his testimony is true because he fully knows and understands that he came from heaven at the command of God.  He also fully knows and understands that after he has been crucified and resurrected (completed his mission) he will once again return to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father.

No other man on earth could possibly confirm these facts, because no one on earth had seen or witnessed Jesus as he lived in Heaven with Father God and Holy Spirit.  Consequently, none of them were qualified to pass judge the testimony of Jesus. 

John 8:15-16 – “You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.  Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me.”

There are two ways to perform judgment – by the flesh or by the Spirit.

To judge according to the flesh is to judge according to appearances, preconceived opinions and/or prejudices.  This was exactly how the religious leaders judged Jesus. 

For example, the Jews believed that the Messiah would come as a conquering hero, who would immediately defeat their enemies and set up a kingdom that rivaled the ‘golden age’ of Israel under David and Solomon.  As such, he would obviously be rich and powerful.  Because Jesus did not fit their preconceived ideas, they rejected him as Messiah.  They judged according to the flesh.

We know that when Jesus came to earth as our redeemer, he did not come to judge/condemn the world, but to save it.  Yet even if he did (and he one day will), his judgment would be fair, true and impartial because he judges by the Spirit.  To judge with the guidance of Holy Spirit is to judge righteously (Psalms 72:2) – according to the facts and the motivations of a man’s heart: 

1 Samuel 16:7 – But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.           

Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus has the right and authority to pass judgment because he is no ordinary man.  He is the divine Son of God, sent by the Father.  Since he and his Father are in complete agreement, their testimony/judgment is true (two witnesses).    

John 8:17-18 – “In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true.  I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”

Once again Jesus shows that he has come to fulfill the law, not to abolish it.  There are indeed two persons who agree about his testimony – he and his Father.

As he mentioned earlier, Jesus’ testimony of himself is credible/true because he knows where he came from (heaven) and where he is going (into the presence of the Father and Spirit).  No man on earth could confirm this testimony, but that’s okay; it is accredited by a much higher source – Father God.

The Father had indeed testified to the divinity of Jesus in several ways including audibly at his baptism (Matthew 3:17), through fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy (Zechariah 9:9, Micah 5:2, etc) and through the performance of miracles. 

The same is true for any judgment Jesus makes – it would not be an individual judgment but the judgment of two witnesses because he and the Father are in agreement on all things.  This was discussed at length in our study of John chapter 5.

John 8:19 – They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?”  Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father.  If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”

There can be no doubt that the Pharisees asked this question in a spirit of mockery and spite, because they were well aware that Jesus was referring to God when he spoke of his Father.  We can even picture them pretending to look around for Joseph as they asked it. 

By ridiculing Jesus, they have also mocked and rejected the very God they claim to serve.  If you were Jesus, how would you deal with these people?  Perhaps your reaction would be similar to mine – I would probably call fire down from heave to consume them!

But Jesus does not allow them to stir up his anger.  Instead, he ignored their contempt and gave them a righteous response – if they will listen to his instruction, and receive him as the Messiah, then they will know his Father. 

The fact is, no man can approach God unless the Messiah (Jesus) makes a way for him through his blood.  Consequently, anyone who rejects Jesus has rejected their only path/avenue to find God.  The Pharisees did not seem to grasp this concept, no matter how many times Jesus taught it to them!

Once again, we find Jesus teaching us by example.  Do we respond righteously when we are mocked or ridiculed for our faith?  We are definitely called to do so:

2 Timothy 2:24-26 – And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose them; if God perhaps will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

The apostle Paul admonishes us to respond righteously, as Christ did.  We are to consider the lost as captives of the devil, snared by his evil schemes.  We are to have compassion for them as a shepherd has compassion for a lost sheep. 

Paul cautions us not to strive with them, but to answer them gently and patiently so they can escape the deadly snare of the enemy.  If Jesus can ignore the taunts of his enemies, can’t we do the same?   

John 8:20 – These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.

The treasury was a part of the temple where the sacred offerings were collected.  It was within the court of the women.  Scholars tell us it held 13 chests or collection boxes – one for each tribe and one that only women were permitted to use for offerings.  It was a much frequented place; we can safely infer that the confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees was witnessed by a large group of Jews.  But strangely, the religious leaders did nothing to stop Jesus.

Think about what a remarkable miracle this really is.  The religious leaders held immense power and influence in the Jewish nation, especially in the temple.  They had the authority to permanently banish people from the temple with a single command (John 9:22).  Yet, we find Jesus constantly teaching in the temple and they do nothing to stop him!  Furthermore, they had already decided to kill him, but he continues to teach while they stand by and allow him to speak!   

Clearly, God protected Jesus and restrained Satan so that mankind could hear the gospel message.  Eventually, Jesus would die for us, but only at the time appointed by God.

Let me offer you some encouragement and relief:

God had an appointed time for Jesus to finish his ministry by dying on the cross and then rising again.  If you think about it, the same is true for you and me.  God numbered the days of our earthly existence before we were ever born (Psalms 139:16).   He established a plan/purpose for our lives, just as he did with Jesus. 

So let me give you some encouragement and relief – Satan may hate you, but he cannot cut your life short unless God allows it.  Stay close to God, and let your light shine for Christ.  He will make sure you are able to complete all the good works God ordained for you to do. 

Let me offer you some strength:

The religious leaders mocked and taunted Jesus, but he never allowed them to bait him into an angry response.  Instead, he answered them righteously and revealed the truth of the gospel to them. 

We need to follow the example of Christ in this area.  The first step in this process is seeking the help of Holy Spirit, who can give us the strength and wisdom to avoid these traps. 

  

 

John, Chapter 8, Part 1

John 7:53-8:1 – They went each to his own house, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

‘They’ refers to all the different groups of people who heard Jesus speak at the temple during the feast of Tabernacles. 

Most were considered ‘common’ or ordinary Jews.  For some of them, it was a long journey home.  Jesus and his doctrine were undoubtedly a subject of conversation/discussion during their travels.  Others in this category lived either in Jerusalem or nearby.  For them, work resumed the very next day; the marketplaces and businesses were surely abuzz with talk of the events that occurred in the temple.

How about the temple guards?  After hearing only a small portion of his doctrine, they believed Jesus to be the Christ.  He was probably discussed at length during their dinner that night.

And then there were the religious leaders.  A few, like Nicodemus, were trying to impartially look at the facts surrounding Jesus.  They desired to judge righteously and arrive at the truth.  But most were doing everything in their power to stop Jesus and his message, because it threatened to disrupt the little kingdom of comfort, wealth and influence they had set up for themselves.  They went home that day in frustration, because God caused their plans to end in chaos.

The point is, no one left that day unchanged.  All of them returned home impacted in one way or another by the words of Christ.   

This should give us encouragement as we share the gospel.  It is our job to spread the Holy Spirit anointed word of God to the lost.  But it is up to each individual person to consider the message and decide what they will do with it.   

As the people headed for home, Jesus departed for the Mount of Olives.

We have discussed this particular location before, in our study of the book of Matthew.  The Mount of Olives is about a mile east of Jerusalem.  Jesus passed through this area regularly on his way to and from the city.  It was his customary place of refuge for the night, when it was unsafe for him to remain in Jerusalem.  He also spent time here in prayer and fellowship/training with his disciples.

The house of Mary, Martha and Lazarus (close friends of Jesus) was located on the eastern side of this mountain in the city of Bethany (John 11:1).  Another favorite place of Jesus, the Garden of Gethsemane, is located on the western side (John 18:2).

John 8:2 – Early in the morning he came again to the temple.  All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.

But Jesus only stayed outside Jerusalem for a matter of hours.  Early the very next day, despite the threats of the religious leaders, he was back in the temple taking care of his Father’s business.

And the crowds returned to hear him.  Once again, the audience would have been a mixed group, all with vastly different motives.  The Scribes came to disagree and disrupt. 

Soldiers came to maintain order.  The Pharisees came to tempt and ensnare him.  Many of the common people came to hear a teacher who was different from any other.  Some thought they were hearing the Messiah. 

Each of them had at least one thing in common – they made time to meet with Jesus.

My guess is that the people back in that day were similar to the people of today.  They had children to care for, lawns to mow, money to earn, sheep to feed, water to draw, laundry to wash, houses to clean and many other commitments.  But they still made time to meet with Jesus and hear his word.  Ironically, even those that were against him felt it was important to be present in the temple, listening to Jesus. 

John tells us that Jesus taught them early in the day.  We have a bit more flexibility.  We can meet with God on our lunch hour, in our cars as we commute, while the kids are asleep, on our couches with a cup of coffee or on our knees in our prayer closet. 

The important thing is that we, like the Jews, must ‘carve out’ time each day to be in fellowship with Christ.  If we wait for a convenient time, it will never happen.  What will you do today that is more important than spending some time with Jesus?   

John 8:3-4 – The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.”

The incident we are about to study is an excellent contrast between the law and grace.  Keep that in mind as you read it. 

The Jews catch a woman in the sin of adultery (I don’t even want to know how they did that…), and they bring her before Jesus.

They don’t do this because they are great defenders of the law.  They don’t do it because they are distressed about the sinfulness of their nation.  They certainly didn’t do it to save her; they really didn’t care if she was helped or hurt by their actions.  All they really wanted to do was trap Jesus. 

By the standards of man, it was a very clever plot, similar to the case of the tribute money in Matthew 22:17.  If Jesus condemns her to death, he was not the Savior he claimed to be; she would suffer the same punishment under the law. 

Additionally, sexual sins in general were rampant during the reign of the Romans.  While the Jews may have been less guilty than other groups, Jesus still refers to them as ‘an evil and adulterous generation’ (Matthew 12:39).  To pronounce such a drastic punishment for a common form of sin would certainly have been controversial.  If Jesus got caught up in some big controversy, it would take the focus away from the gospel message.  In fact, it could completely overtake all interest in the true message of grace. 

There was also the issue of Roman rule.  Rome reserved the power of life and death for itself (hence the Jews had to get Pilate to condemn Jesus).  Anyone who tried to usurp that power was swiftly and decisively silenced.       

On the other hand, if Jesus simply lets her go, he is accused of being a law breaker; one who contradicts the Law of Moses and encourages sin.  His adversaries would certainly take this opportunity to bring Jesus before the Sanhedrin as a false Messiah, for the true Messiah would never break the law.  Incidentally, breaking the law was the same charge they already tried to bring against him when the accused him of healing on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14). 

Either way, they would have grounds to accuse him before the Sanhedrin and sentence him to death.  Or so they thought.  

John 8:5 – “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.  So what do you say?”

First off, they were right about the Law, but they were selective in how they wanted to enforce it.  The law actually stated that both the woman and the man should be put to death:

Leviticus 20:10 – And the man that commits adultery with another man’s wife, even he that commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.  

See also Deuteronomy 22:22.  Funny how they were able to bring the woman to Jesus, but not the man! 

Secondly, the statement of the Jews was technically false; the law instituted the death penalty, but it did not specify the particular manner of death.  In such cases (where the mode of death was not specified), the rabbins favored strangulation.  However, past practices included being thrust through with a sword or stoning or both (Ezekiel 16:40).  If the woman was the daughter of a priest, the punishment was being burned to death (Leviticus 16:9).  The Jews living in the time of Christ decided death would be by stoning which explains their statement in this situation. 

In that generation, stoning entailed binding the hands of the guilty and taking them to the top of a high place where they were thrown down head first.  If the fall did not kill them, then a very heavy stone was thrown upon them; the executioners continued to throw stones at the person until they were dead.  If the guilty person died in the fall, they were completely covered with rocks.

John 8:6 – This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.  Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.

This scene is taking place in the temple, so when Jesus writes on the ground it actually refers to the pavement or floor.  It was not bare dirt, as we might picture. 

There may have been dust/dirt on the floor, in which case the words he wrote were visible.  However, he may not have ‘written’ words that could be seen by others.  In this case, writing on the floor may have been a way to simply show that he was not interested in what they had to say.  It would be like ignoring them. 

Or perhaps he was simply refusing to be placed in the role of judge, which was consistent with his mission.  He refused the role of judge several times during his incarnation (Luke 12:14, John 12:47, John 8:15, etc). 

Either way, it shows that Jesus was divinely aware of their wicked plans.  Instead of answering their question, he intentionally disregards them.  He effortlessly and effectively takes control of the situation by simply writing in the dust. 

Of course, the big question is, ‘what did Jesus write?’  The truth is that we really don’t know.  Some early versions of scripture say he wrote the sins of all the men standing there, however, most versions do not include this. 

John 8:7 – And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Jesus cannot mean that a person must literally be sinless in order to enforce punishment for guilt.  If it did, the law would be null and void, for no one would have the authority or executive power to punish law breakers.  Society would be in chaos.

The passage becomes clearer when we examine the phrase ‘without sin’.  Grammatically speaking, the original Greek text literally means ‘without the sin of which her sin is an example’.  The implication is that the men who were present as her accusers were also guilty of some kind of sexual sin. 

So obviously, Jesus is NOT saying that men/women cannot occupy places of civil authority in society.  Rather, he seems to be focusing on the hypocrisy of these leaders.

Now, you probably already know that under the law, a minimum of two witnesses were required to prove something was true:

Deuteronomy 19:15 – One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sins: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

But did you also know that any witness who gave testimony in a trial where the defendant was convicted and sentenced to death, was required to be the first or primary person to carry out the death penalty? 

Deuteronomy 17:7 – The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put the evil away from among you.

This means that if the woman in this case was judged and sentenced to be stoned, these very men would have to be the ones to bind her hands, lead her to the precipice and push her off.  If she was still alive, it would be their responsibility to throw the first heavy stone at/on her. 

Why would God command such a thing?  Well, it certainly is an effective deterrent to perjury.  It would be an awful burden to bear if a person falsely accused someone of a crime, and then they were forced to look them in the eye as they carried out the sentence of death. 

Anyway, we find that as the religious leaders press Jesus for an answer, he proceeds to foil their plans to trap him.  He did not excuse the woman’s guilt, nor did he encourage her prosecution. 

Instead, he effectively turns the tables back on them.  He acknowledges that she deserves to be prosecuted, but asks them to examine their own consciences and see if they are fit to be judge, jury and executioner.  Jesus reminds them that they would have to be the very ones to kill her with their own hands.  Would their consciences allow them to do so?  Should any person be zealous in exposing and punishing the offenses of others, when they themselves are guilty of the same crime?

Matthew 7:5 – You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the speck out of your brother’s eye.

When we see a fault in someone else, let us first examine our own lives to see if there is any wicked way in us.  We need to judge our own sin before we judge someone else.

And while we certainly do not condone sin, we should make it our practice to have compassion on others and try to restore that person to fellowship (Galatians 6:1).

John 8:8 – And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.

Jesus now gives them time to examine their own hearts.  Again, although it is not fully confirmed, many think he went back to writing the sins of these men in the dust.  Regardless of whether that happened or not, their consciences certainly seared their sin upon their own hearts like a hot branding iron.  They could hide their guilt from the world, but not from themselves or from God! 

John 8:9 – But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.

It makes sense that they simply walked away.  These men realized they were not going to achieve their goal of trapping Jesus.  If they persisted in their endeavors, their own sin was sure to be exposed for all to see, and they certainly did not want that!

They left quietly, one by one.  We might say they slunk away, because they were ashamed of their conduct.  It is interesting to note the order of their departure – the oldest first.  It may be that they were the most guilty, or that they were first aware of the danger of their own sin being exposed to the world. 

The sad part is that this was actually a missed opportunity for the religious leaders.  Now that the wound of their sin had been opened, Jesus could have healed it for them, had they asked.  They could have sought repentance and left that place forgiven, but instead they chose to cover the wound with a band-aid of pride and rebellion.  This type of band-aid has no ability to heal or restore.  In fact, it promotes death – what hope do they have, when they reject the Redeemer? 

Perhaps the religious leaders did not recognize that Holy Spirit conviction is a lot like medicine – you want to avoid it because it is bitter going down, but it is the best thing for you; it brings spiritual healing. 

2 Corinthians 7:10 – For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be regretted: but the sorrow of the world works death.

This healing not only restores, but it brings the peace of God along with it!  Those who turn to Christ Jesus are no longer under condemnation but have passed from death to life!  How sad that they leaders missed this!

And what of the woman?  She was as acutely aware of her guilt as the Scribes and Pharisees were.  She probably had just as much opportunity to slip away into the crowd as they did (none of them was going to stop her at that point), but she did not.  She stayed behind to face her sin.

John 8:10-11 – Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.”  And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and from now on sin no more.”]

The woman had a very real basis for being afraid.  She was guilty and she knew it.  However, the law stated that two witnesses were needed in order to carry out the sentence of death.  Since they had disappeared, she was free from the penalty of physical/earthly death.

As if that were not enough, Jesus steps in and gives her the greatest gift that can ever be bestowed upon a person – he forgives her of sin and saves her from spiritual death!   

At one time, all of us were in the same situation as this woman – guilty as charged!  But, hallelujah, that was not the final word!  The law rendered a verdict of ‘guilty’ and pronounced a judgment of death, but its demands were silenced by the blood of Christ!

As Paul so powerfully points out in his epistle to the Romans, no one on earth has the right to accuse us before God: 

Romans 8:33 – Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies.

But this leads us to another point, which we need to carefully consider.  Everyone standing before Jesus that day was guilty of sin.  Not only had the religious leaders committed sexual immorality, they placed this woman in a position to die for that same moral infraction.  Certainly, she had a right to be angry.  She could have chosen to bear a grudge against them.  She could have accused them before Jesus for unjustly condemning her!  This was a prime opportunity to live in unforgiveness – but she didn’t.  She didn’t even bring up the subject of their guilt.

As Jesus instructs his followers, we MUST forgive others!  This is not optional in the life of a Christian. 

Luke 17:3-4 – Take heed to yourselves: If your brother trespasses against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he trespasses against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turns again to you, saying, I repent; you shall forgive him. 

Jesus is our example in this; as he hung dying on the cross, he forgave those who put him there (Luke 23:34).  Therefore, we also must forgive those who sin against us.    

Let me offer you some encouragement:

All of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  As long as we are on this earth, subject to the malady of sin, we will continue to do so.  The real question is, how do we handle that? 

The religious leaders in this narrative reacted judgmentally; they were willing and eager to end this woman’s life to help make their case against Jesus.  In our day we might say they ‘threw her under the bus’.

We need to be careful that we don’t act in the same way.  There WILL BE Christians around us who fall into sin.  We need to have the wisdom to correct them, without falling into judgment.  Let me reiterate – correction and judgment are two very different things. 

When a fellow Christian falls into sin, they need to repent.  In fact, Jesus will bring a rod of correction into their lives if they don’t (Proverbs 3:11-12).

If the sin is a grievous one, or if they are in a position of leadership in the church, they also need to submit to the oversight of the pastor and/or elders.  This may include stepping down from positions of leadership.  They need time to heal and get back on the right track, before they can be in authority again.

For instance, if a person fell into the sin of adultery (like the woman in John 8), they will need time to work through their marriage and family relationships.  They need time to analyze what went wrong, and how to avoid it going forward.  They will need to rebuild trust in those around them. 

During this critical time, it is our job to love, encourage and support them, as opposed to being judgmental. 

Galatians 6:1-2 – Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted.  Bear you one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.    

Notice what Paul tells us in Galatians – by praying and supporting these believers, you FULFILL the law of Christ.  This is the opposite of what the Sadducees and Pharisees did to the woman; they wanted to use the law to condemn her.

Let me offer you some relief:

If you are one of the many Christians who has fallen into sin, remember this:  You can be restored!  It will take time.  There may be a high price to be paid in the natural realm.  But in the eternal realm, Jesus forgives you the moment you repent.  And we have the assurance that Jesus will walk with us through whatever comes next (Hebrews 13:5). 

Let me offer you some strength:

The best thing for us to do is avoid falling into sin in the first place!  We are not ignorant of the enemy’s plans; scripture tells us that he is a roaring lion who seeks to kill us.  In fact, his only goals are to steal, kill and destroy the children of God.

The good news is that Jesus has already given us both victory and authority over Satan.  If we resist him, he will flee from us (James 4:7).  So strengthen yourself in the Lord.  Keep his word in your heart, in your mind and on your lips.  Listen to the leading of Holy Spirit who will help keep you from the unseen snares of the enemy.     

 

John, Chapter 7, Part 4

John 7:37 – On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”

Here is what we have noted so far about the Feast of Tabernacles aka the Feast of Booths:

  • It was a seven-day feast immediately followed by a day of solemn assembly before God (Leviticus 23:34-41).  The Jews referred to the eighth day as the ‘great day’.
  • The feast commemorated two things.  One: God brought Israel through the wilderness into the Promised Land, providing for their needs all along the way (especially food and water). Two: It was a celebration of thanksgiving for the current harvest season.
  • The Israelites erected temporary shelters made of frames plus tree branches and lived in them for the duration of the feast to symbolize their desert wandering (Leviticus 23:42-43).
  • This was one of three instances where God commanded all Israelite males to appear before him at the temple (Deuteronomy 16:16). Therefore, this feast was exceptionally well attended; it was second only to Passover.
  • There were specific sacrifices offered on each day of the festival (Numbers 29).
  • There was a public reading of the entire law, spread out over the duration of the feast, as a reminder to the people (Deuteronomy 31:9-12).

Now, in order to fully appreciate the words of Jesus in this passage of scripture, we need to review some additional information:

During the first seven days of the feast, the Jews traditionally offered sacrifices for the heathen nations, as well as themselves. But on the eighth/great day, they offered sacrifices only for themselves.

The eighth/great day was a holy day and no servile work could be performed on that day (Leviticus 23:39).  This was the day they finished the reading of the Law.

The Jews had a custom associated with this feast, although it was not mandated by God.   The priests, along with a great entourage of Jews, would take a large golden vessel to the pool of Siloam (located by the fountain gate) and fill it with water.  With great joy and the sounding of trumpets, this water would be carried back into the temple. 

The priest bearing the golden vial would drink some of the water as the people loudly praised God.  This was done in remembrance of God’s provision of water from a rock during the desert wanderings.  Without this provision, both Israel and their livestock would have died of thirst (Exodus 17:1-6). 

At that point, one of two things would happen, depending on which historian you agree with.  Either the remaining water was mixed with wine and poured upon the sacrifice that was on the brazen altar, or the water and a vessel of wine were simultaneously poured out on opposite sides of the altar as drink offerings. 

As the offering was poured out, the Jews would sing scriptural songs and pray for the Lord to grant them plentiful rain for the next growing season.  One of the songs they sung was found in Isaiah:

Isaiah 12:3 – Therefore with joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation.

Interestingly, the Jewish fathers asserted that this scripture (and others they sang) was a reference to the pouring out of Holy Ghost.  There are many Old Testament scriptures that use water to refer to the effusion of the Spirit by the Messiah (Isaiah 44:3, Isaiah 55:1, Ezekiel 36:25-27, Joel 2:28 etc). 

Using your imagination, picture the scene with me.  It is the final, greatest day of the feast.  Anticipation is in the air.  The temple is overflowing with people, watching the procession of priests as it arrives from the pool of Siloam.  The trumpets are sounding.  People are joyously singing.  Here comes the priest, solemnly carrying the beautiful golden flask with the water which represents God’s provision in the natural realm (water in the desert) and his provision in the spiritual realm (the pouring out of Holy Spirit). 

Meanwhile, the temple guards are anxiously searching the crowds, watching for Jesus and looking for a reason/opportunity to arrest him. 

A profound silence overtakes the scene as the priest is about to pour out the drink offering to the Lord.  At that precise moment, Jesus cries out.  He is probably standing in an elevated place of the temple; everyone present can both see and hear him as he loudly proclaims, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink!

The timing and the message are perfectly consistent with the way Jesus has communicated and ministered to people during his whole incarnation. 

First, let’s talk about the timing of Jesus.  Nothing could drive home the true spiritual message more than Jesus loudly speaking into the silence at the exact moment the water was being poured out. I have goose bumps just thinking about it.  I guarantee that none of the Jews present that day could have left the temple unaffected.  (As we will see, the same was true for the temple guards, whom God restrained from arresting Jesus.)

Now let’s talk about the message itself.  As was his usual practice, Jesus takes a common occurrence (in this case, their own tradition/celebration) and shows them the spiritual principle behind it. 

While their ritual was good in that it reminded them of God’s promises of salvation, deliverance and the gift of his Spirit, it was just a ritual that would pass away with the law.  By contrast, Jesus was now in their very midst, offering them the fulfillment of those same promises.

Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is the true fountain of all saving grace and spiritual gifts.  He is not a dry well or a worn-out cistern, but a fresh, clear inexhaustible fountain capable of abundantly supplying all our wants and needs. 

If we approach him in faith, eagerly thirsting for spiritual things like the Israelites thirsted for water in the desert, we can be assured we will be filled (Matthew 5:6, Isaiah 55:1). 

John 7:38 – “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

To believe in Christ means to acknowledge him as Messiah, and trust in him for salvation.

The phrase ‘out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’ is not an exact quote from any particular Old Testament passage.  Rather, this was the substance or meaning that was taught throughout in the scriptures in places such as Isaiah 58:11, Isaiah 44:3-4, Ezekiel 36:23-27, Zechariah 13:1, Joel 2:28 and many others.

According to Jesus, any person who receives salvation by faith in him will become a conduit of living water/spiritual blessings.  Therefore, every Christian (working in conjunction with Holy Spirit) has the capacity to offer the salvation and spiritual blessings of Jesus to other people.  We are his agents here on earth, freely giving as we have freely received (Matthew 10:8).  In other words, we are the instruments by which Holy Spirit will be poured out upon the world.

Notice that everything Jesus says in this passage indicates a flow of his blessings, not a stagnant pond.  The blessings of Holy Spirit should be spilling out of our souls onto the hurting, thirsty souls around us.

It’s no wonder we are told to lay hands on the sick, cast out demons, provide for the poor, travail in prayer, console the broken-hearted, fight for justice and fish for men.  How are you allowing the benefits of Holy Spirit to flow through you?

Just as rivers widen and deepen over time, your spiritual conduit will grow as you allow Holy Spirit to flow through you.  So start ministering today.  As your faith grows, you can expect God to use you in more and greater ways.    

John 7:39 – Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Holy Spirit has always been present on the earth.  We first encounter him in Genesis 1:1 as an active agent in the creation, hovering over the waters.  The prophets, priests and kings of early Israel were all endued with a special anointing of Holy Spirit in order to accomplish their tasks in life.

In the New Testament, we find that Zacharias and Elizabeth (parents of John the Baptist) and others were also filled with Holy Spirit before the resurrection of Jesus.  Of course, Jesus himself had the Spirit without measure (John 3:34).  But these instances were limited in number.

However, God’s great plan for the ages called for a full out-pouring of the Spirit upon all believers once Jesus completed the work of redemption and returned to sit at the right hand of the Father (John 16:7).  It had to happen this way, because the indwelling presence and baptism of Holy Spirit are gifts that were paid for by the sacrifice of Jesus.

As we know, this out-pouring initially occurred in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost:

Acts 2:1-4 – And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them separated tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.   And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Of course, all Christians have Holy Spirit dwelling in their hearts; we received him during our salvation experience.  He is the seal of our redemption (Ephesians 4:30); the guarantee of salvation/eternal life (Ephesians 1:13-14).

But believers can also receive an additional measure of Holy Spirit which is evidenced by speaking in a heavenly language.  This is commonly referred to as ‘speaking in tongues’.  This gift further empowers the believer, equipping them with boldness and other spiritual gifts, which allow them to serve Christ in a greater capacity (I Corinthians 12:7-11). 

As we know, the great fountain of God’s spiritual blessings never ceases or runs dry.  This includes baptism in the Spirit.  This wonderful, powerful gift is still available to every believer, despite what some people may claim.  If you are unsure about receiving this gift, I encourage you to search the scriptures and personally speak to someone who operates in this gift. 

John 7:40 –When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.”

In the next few verses, we find an account of the effects which the outcry or sermon of Jesus had upon the hearts of the common Jews.  (John does not include the religious leaders who were already filled with hatred against Christ).  Basically, the doctrine of Christ caused a schism in the Jewish church – there was a great diversity of opinion and heated contention over who was right and who was wrong. 

Basically, there were three different opinions.

Some of the people felt that Jesus was ‘the prophet’.  This could refer to the prophet mentioned by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15 or the promised forerunner of the Messiah which the Jews believed to be either Elijah or possibly Jeremiah (Matthew 16:13-14).

This group regarded Jesus with reverence and respect, because they sensed something divine in him, but they clearly did not understand what he taught.  They fell short of coming to faith in him and recognizing him as the true Messiah.

John 7:41-42 – Others said, “This is the Christ.”  But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee?  Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?”

There were others who went a step further, acknowledging him as the Messiah.  However, we find no evidence that they became true disciples and followers of Christ.  Their confession was not a life changing result of faith; it was a mere intellectual opinion and nothing more.

Still others rejected him out of simple ignorance.  They had been taught that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) and that he would be a descendent of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1).   This much was true.

But they don’t fully investigate the facts.  It is true that Jesus is often referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Galilee (Matthew 21:11), but his actual birth place was indeed Bethlehem (Luke 2:4). 

Any one of the people present in the temple could have investigated this apparent discrepancy by simply asking Jesus himself, or his mother, or one of his brothers.  They could have consulted the public records and examined the genealogies of the family of Jesse/David and discovered the truth about his birth place and his lineage (Luke 3:23-38, Matthew 1:1-17), but they did not.  They use their own ignorance as an excuse to reject Christ.

Ignorance of the scriptures can still be devastating to Christians today.

Hosea 4:6 – My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…

Let’s make sure that ignorance does not steer us in the wrong direction.  We should diligently heed the advice of Paul, who admonishes Timothy to study the scriptures (II Timothy 2:15), rightly understanding the word of truth.  

John 7:43 – So there was a division among the people over him.

We cannot fail to note that the preaching of the gospel often results in division.  This seems to be true in every era, including ours.  There will be some who gladly embrace it, others who scorn it, and many who will actively fight against it.

Additionally, we cannot fail to notice that it wasn’t the heathen who were divided, it was the Jewish church.  Sadly, this is still common today.  While differences of opinion should always be heard, actual division should be closely guarded against because it renders us useless in the kingdom of heaven (Mark 3:25).

John 7:44-45 – Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.  The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?”

The reaction of some people in the temple was hatred.  They, like the religious leaders, had an immediate desire to arrest Jesus and take him before the Sanhedrin to be charged with blasphemy.  In fact, the rulers had already called in temple guards to arrest Jesus.

It is interesting to note that although this scenario occurred on the final and greatest day of this important religious festival, the chief priests and Pharisees couldn’t be bothered to attend the services.  Instead of worshiping and celebrating God, they were sequestered away deciding church policy (looking out for their own interests)! 

The rulers were frustrated with the temple guards.  They were sent to do one simple task – arrest a poor, insignificant, unarmed, uneducated teacher.  They even told the officers where the man would be.  It was such a simple task, a child could do it! 

Yet these armed, highly trained men who operated under the highest authority of the Jewish nation returned to their masters empty-handed.  This could be nothing less than the providence of God; He made sure Jesus had the opportunity to preach his message.   

John 7:46 – The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!”

John’s narrative indicates that the officers arrived just as Jesus was making his proclamation in the temple.  They were immediately struck by his eloquence and doctrine.  Power, truth and grace were evident in his words.  By the time Jesus was finished, they were persuaded that he was from God.  They were so convinced of his innocence, that they dared not touch him.

This further enraged the religious leaders.  During the festival, they didn’t dare to openly take Jesus by force (the common people would have rebelled), so they crafted what they felt was a perfect plan – the officers would arrest Jesus and bring him into their private chambers, where they could charge/sentence him to death before his teaching completely took over the nation. 

But they too were thwarted by the hand of God.  It was NOT the time for Jesus to lay down his life, so he passed easily through this trap without getting caught in it.

John 7:47 – The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived?” 

The temple soldiers were not a bunch of village idiots.  They were experienced, disciplined military men who were street smart and politically savvy.  They had seen humanity at its worst and at its best.  No doubt, they had seen many false Messiahs come and go (Acts 5:34-37).  And they were utterly convinced that Jesus was the true Messiah.

 To any person honestly seeking the truth, these soldiers represented a powerful and credible witness for Jesus as the Son of God.  If the religious leaders were honest seekers of the truth, they would have stopped to ask why the soldiers felt this way. They would have asked to see or hear any evidence that could shed light on the matter.

But they didn’t.  Instead, they were determined to prove that Jesus was an imposter and deceiver, regardless of the facts.  We can plainly discern their envy, contempt and anger as they accuse the soldiers of being deceived by Christ. 

John 7:48-49 – “Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him?  But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.”

The authorities mentioned here are members of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body over the religious rites and doctrines of the Jewish nation.  The Pharisees were a sect of Judaism who served on this council, along with Sadducees, priests, elders, etc. 

The main point of the Pharisees is that the soldiers should reject Jesus as the Christ simply because everyone of rank or distinction in the community already did.  The obvious implication is that only the common people, (ignorant rabble/men of earth, in their opinion) believe in Jesus as the Christ.  Obviously, this raises a number of concerns.

  • First, they were repressing the rights of every common person to examine the facts and make up their own minds regarding Jesus.  Although they loved for people to blindly follow them, God never sanctioned that.  Every Israelite should have been able to examine the evidence.    
  • Second, they were trying to refute the teaching of Jesus with contempt, not sound reasoning.  If Jesus was a fraud, then it should be easy for these religiously educated men to prove it.  But they never gave exact reasons or proofs for rejecting his doctrine.  Instead, they tried to influence people by example – they hoped that if they scorned and rejected Jesus, others would too. 
  • Third, they over stepped their authority by claiming the right to pass judgment.  It is true that the Jewish nation needed leaders who could exercise authority.  Without it, the nation would disintegrate in a hurry.  (The same is true for the modern church.  There must be people in positions of authority, or everything will become chaos).

But even though the Pharisees had authority, they made a grave error.  They were unwilling to submit this issue to God for a final judgment.  In Deuteronomy the law states that if a matter of controversy arises which is too difficult for them to judge, they are to submit it to the priests, who will then inquire of the Lord for an answer.  They were to diligently follow whatever direction God gave them.  Anyone who didn’t was to be put to death (Deuteronomy 17:8-12).

Had the Pharisees acted according to the law, they would have known Jesus was the Messiah.  

John 7:50-51 – Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing, and learning what he does?”

How interesting that we should once again meet up with Nicodemus!  I am sure you remember him from the third chapter of John’s gospel.  He is a Pharisee and an honored member of the Sanhedrin. 

Unlike his colleagues, he had the courage to set up a meeting with Jesus (albeit at night, in secret) to investigate his teaching and question his purposes.  Nicodemus walked away from that encounter a changed man.

Now we find him in the great council where most of the leaders want to destroy Jesus out of jealousy and hatred. 

Jesus was never arraigned on charges and never had the opportunity to present a defense.  No witnesses were ever consulted in his case; yet the council had already judged and condemned him.  They were ready to carry out his execution, and probably would have if the soldiers had arrested him.  This was a gross violation of law and justice:      

Deuteronomy 1:16-17 – And I charged your judges… saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother….  You shall not respect persons in judgment; but you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.

Exodus 23:2 – You shall not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shall you testify in a dispute to follow after a crowd to pervert judgment:

Deuteronomy 19:15 – One witness shall not rise up against a man… at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

Just as things are on the verge of being out of control, Nicodemus steps up and rebukes his colleagues.  He reminds them that the law, which they claim to be experts in, requires an open impartial investigation before judgment is passed.

Although the words of Nicodemus were not exactly a robust testimony in support of Jesus, God used them to dispel this storm of persecution. 

John 7:52 – They replied, “Are you from Galilee too?  Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” 

Obviously, this is a personal attack; an expression of contempt and mocking directed at Nicodemus for standing up for justice. 

To be a Galilean was a term of the highest reproach back in the days of Jesus.  The rulers were well aware Nicodemus was not from Galilee; they were implying that he had become a follower of Christ.  And since Christ was from Galilee (or so they thought) he could NOT be the Messiah. 

Let me offer you some encouragement:

Sometimes we find ourselves in the same situation as Nicodemus – we want to speak the truth and stand up for what is right, but we are timid or afraid. 

If that is the case for you, I encourage you to seek the baptism of the Spirit.  All throughout scripture we find that people who were timid or afraid operated in extreme boldness once they had received this gift. 

Acts 4:31 – And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.  

Let me offer you some relief: 

Have you ever wanted to say something publicly for the cause of Christ, but feel like you did a poor job of it?  Have you ever thought of the perfect thing to say an hour after the opportunity passed?

I think we have all been in that situation one time or another.  So let the example of Nicodemus offer you some relief – he gave one of the weakest testimonies for Christ that has ever been given!  It was a very feeble attempt (to say the least) at standing up for righteousness, yet God used it for his purposes. 

Let me offer you some strength:

There will always be people who fight against the cause of Christ.  Some will do so out of ignorance, some out of pride and some out of hatred.  We can expect them to oppose us and our message. 

But don’t be discouraged; there will also be people who will listen to the gospel message.  For this reason, we need to be ready to share the hope Christ has given us:     

1 Peter 3:15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Let me help you get started.  If someone asked you about Jesus right now, what would you say?  I suggest you begin with what God has done in your own life.  For instance, has he delivered you from fear or addiction?  Has he healed your body, mind or relationships?  Has he blessed you financially?  Worked some other miracle for you? 

Using your own life as a starting point for the goodness of God will result in a genuine message; you can always quote scriptures later!

John, Chapter 7, Part 3

John 7:25 – Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill?”

As we left off last time, Jesus was in the temple at Jerusalem openly teaching and confronting the religious leaders during the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths.  Because this was an important feast, there were Jews present from all over the surrounding rural regions, as well as those of Jerusalem. 

The Jews outside of Jerusalem were obviously ignorant about the plans of the religious leaders to kill Jesus.  This was evident in John 7:19-20, where Jesus openly states there is a plot to kill him, but some of the crowd thinks he is crazy.  

However, the Jews residing in Jerusalem were well aware that something was going on, as evidenced by their comment here in verse 25.  Clearly, they had seen the rage and frustration of the religious leaders as they tried to suppress the growing ministry of Jesus.  They heard their leaders adamantly declare that Jesus was a dangerous false teacher who deceived the people.  They knew the leaders were scrutinizing everything Jesus said and did in order to charge him with a capital crime – one that carried the death penalty under Jewish law. 

The confusion of the Jerusalem Jews seems to center around the inaction of the religious leaders.  Had they not declared this man public enemy number one?  Hadn’t they vowed to arrest him and bring him before the Sanhedrin?  Since the man was right here in the temple, supposedly teaching heresy and false doctrine, why didn’t they take action against him?

John 7:26 – “And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him!  Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ?”

If this was the man they were trying to silence, why on earth would the rulers simply stand by as he taught in the temple on a holy feast day (or any other day, for that matter)?

The only explanation the Jerusalem Jews can come up with is that the religious leaders had some kind of new evidence confirming that Jesus was the Messiah.  They assumed the leaders had not yet made this information public.

Of course, you and I know full well this was not the case; the religious leaders as a whole never endorsed Jesus as the Christ.  So how can we explain their inaction?

Simple – it was the providence of God.  Although the Jerusalem Jews did not recognize it, God was at work in this situation, delaying the leaders so his divine message could be effectively communicated to the common people.  No matter how hard the religious leaders tried, they could not silence the gospel message!

This is a great encouragement to us as well.  In our current time, we see more and more instances where the enemy tries to silence or hinder the preaching of the true gospel message.  But if we will stand firm and not compromise the life changing gospel, God will provide open doors for his message.  When God opens a door, no man can shut it (Revelation 3:8)!

John 7:27 – “But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.”

These Jews then begin to discuss among themselves the reasons why Jesus could NOT be the Messiah.  Their main point was that when the Messiah arrives, no one will know where he comes from.  But they DID know where Jesus was from, so therefore he couldn’t be the expected Messiah.  What a seemingly strange point of view!  Where did it come from?

The Jewish scholars developed their point of view from a number of Old Testament scriptures including this one from Isaiah:

Isaiah 53:8 – By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living….

And this one from Micah:

Micah 5:2 – But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. 

This is the scripture that is commonly used to show that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.  But notice the second portion of the verse.  The Messiah’s appearance (coming forth) would also be from ancient or prior days.  Or in the verse of Isaiah, no one would be able to declare his generation/birth/coming.

The early Jewish scholars interpreted this to mean that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, then be hidden/taken away or disappear in some manner.  Finally, he would appear again from some unexpected place or there would be something so peculiar in the manner of his appearing/coming, that he would be easily identified as the Christ. 

As further proof of their interpretation, they used the example of Moses, who was a ‘type’ of Christ (Acts 3:22, 27).  The Jewish reasoning went something like this:  Moses was present in Egypt; he was known to all the people.  Then, he disappeared for a time (approximately 40 years in Midian) before unexpectedly returning to Egypt and leading the Israelites to the Promised Land.

Again, according to the Jewish interpretation of scripture, Messiah would do the same thing – he will be known, then hidden, and finally appear again in a peculiar manner or from an unexpected place.

In fact, the Jewish Rabbins even incorporated this belief into one of their proverbs: ‘Three things come unexpectedly: A thing found by chance, the sting of a scorpion and the Messiah’.

Now that we better understand the teaching these Jews grew up with, we can consider their case against Jesus as Messiah. 

There was no doubt that Jesus had come from Bethlehem; all of the Jews accepted that fact (Matthew 5:5, John 7:42).  But in their minds, two things prevented him from being the Messiah:

One, they knew were Jesus ‘came from’.  In other words, they knew his heritage, his lineage, his parents and his siblings (or at least they thought they did).  They knew about his flight to Egypt, his childhood in Nazareth and his training as a carpenter. 

Secondly, they insist that Jesus did not come from an unexpected place, nor was there anything peculiar in the manner of his appearing/coming.  Therefore, he could not be the Messiah.   

However, as we know they were wrong on both accounts!  Jesus was the only man ever born of a virgin.  If you ask me, that’s the most peculiar manner of appearance of any human ever born on earth!  On that basis alone, they should have seen him as the Christ! 

Also, despite the testimony of Mary and Joseph, they still believed that Joseph was the father of Jesus.  Therefore they erroneously assume they can pinpoint his father and his lineage.  But as we know, Jesus was conceived when Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary; Joseph was only the step father of Jesus.

As a side note, many modern day scholars point out that Jesus was probably referencing this very same belief when he told the Jews not to believe anyone who said they found the Messiah in a hidden/obscure place (Matthew 24:23-26). 

John 7:28 – So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from.  But I have not come of my own accord.  He who sent me is true, and him you do not know.”

Your translation may say Jesus ‘cried’ rather than ‘proclaimed’ as our version does.  Either way, the meaning is that Jesus raised his voice as he passionately spoke these words to the people.  This expresses his earnestness in revealing the truth to them.  It also reflects the hardness of their hearts.

Because the Jews had their hearts and minds completely fixated on the natural realm, they felt they knew all there was to know about Jesus – he was Joseph’s son, an ordinary carpenter from Nazareth.

But Jesus challenges them to look with spiritual eyes; to judge righteously and not by appearance for he is much, much more than just a humble laborer.  He did not come to them under his own authority seeking his own will or glory.  He was sent by his true Father… God. 

Not only was he sent by God in the role of Messiah as a master sends a servant, but he is an actual person of the God head, emanating from God as a beam emanates from the sun.

Furthermore, his Father is ‘true’ or faithful to his word.  For this reason, Jesus could be assured that what he preached in the Father’s name was completely true and would eventually come to pass, even if the Jews rejected it.

  • The law would be fulfilled. 
  • The era of grace would unfold and flourish. 
  • The Gentiles would be welcomed into the kingdom. 
  • No matter how hard his enemies fought against him, the gospel would prevail and change the world.

Hallelujah, the same is true today!

John 7:29 – “I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.”

The Jews did not know the real Father of Jesus at all. 

Jesus, on the other hand, was obviously intimately acquainted with his Father as they both dwelt together (along with Holy Spirit) in heaven prior to the incarnation.  Since it was the Father who sent Jesus to earth, Jesus had absolutely no doubt concerning his mission as the Messiah.  He knew what he needed to do.  He had perfect assurance that he would be successful in providing salvation for all of mankind (Isaiah 53:10).  

John 7:30 – So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.

Even though there was a plan to catch Jesus in a punishable/capital offense, the rulers stood by and did nothing while Jesus gave this discourse in the temple.  The reason was not as the common Jews thought (that the rulers had accepted him as Messiah).  The reason was because God prevented them from doing the evil that was in their hearts.  Nobody touched him because the appointed time and manner of his death had not yet arrived.  As Matthew Henry said, “Satan fills their hearts, yet God ties their hands”. 

Although it may not always seem like it from our point of view, this is still true.  Satan wreaks havoc in our world, but he is actually on a short leash.  He can only go as far as God allows.  God has a master plan for this world and at the correct time, he will release an anointing of his power to his saints.  He will lead us into battle against the enemy and the kingdom of heaven will be victorious, despite all efforts by Satan.

Sometimes, we have a skewed perception of the power of Satan.  In our culture, we think of good and evil being essentially equal in power, and we always hope that good will win.  While that makes for an interesting movie or book, it is a completely false concept.

The power of good and evil isn’t a 50/50 split, as we subconsciously believe.  It’s more like God allows Satan to have 0.000000001% of power/authority, but only for a hot minute and only over earth and only because mankind gave it to him in the garden.  And even during this short period, Satan’s power is not absolute.  He can only do what God allows. 

Think of it this way:  It’s like an entire football team made up of two-year-olds playing a game against a team of 25-year-old NFL players.  There is no question as to the outcome of the contest.  Satan will NEVER defeat his creator, God.  Satan will NEVER EVER sit upon the throne which belongs to the Ancient of Days.  Satan will NEVER, EVER, EVER destroy the kingdom of heaven (Isaiah 14:12-15).  Satan is a defeated foe and the only power/authority he has in your life is what you give him. 

John 7:31 –Yet many of the people believed in him.  They said, “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?”

Another common belief of the Jews was that the Messiah would work many miracles:

Isaiah 35:5-6 – Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.  Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break forth, and streams in the desert.

Jesus had given abundant evidence of his power to work miracles.  Interestingly, the miracles convinced the common people that he was the Messiah, but not the Jewish leaders.  Remember, they were enraged when the paralytic was healed on the Sabbath.

John 7:32 – The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest him.

The teaching and interaction of Jesus with the temple crowd sparked a debate among the Jews regarding Jesus as the Messiah.  This was a good thing; many Jews believed in him on that day.  Those from more remote regions who were in Jerusalem for the feast would take that idea home with them, and further spread the gospel.

But as far as the Pharisees and priests were concerned, enough was enough!  They hastily called together a meeting of the Sanhedrin (which included the Sadducees too) and agreed amongst themselves to send some temple officers to arrest Jesus before the whole nation began to accept him as the Messiah.

John 7:33-34 – Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little longer, and then I am going to him who sent me.  You will seek me and you will not find me.  Where I am you cannot come.”

Who is Jesus addressing in these verses?  Some believe he spoke to the crowd, others think he spoke to the officers that came to arrest him, while still others believe he spoke directly to those who were actively opposing him (Pharisees, etc). 

In any case, Jesus took this opportunity to let the Jewish community know that his time on earth was drawing to a close (he would be crucified in approximately six months).  If they wanted to hear his doctrine and plant the truth of the God in their hearts, they should do so now, while he was still among them. 

The statement ‘Where I am you cannot come’ is easily interpreted.  After his resurrection, Jesus will be returning to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father.  The great majority of Jews would reject him and the gospel message.  Therefore, they would not be able to find him as they would not be admitted to heaven (John 8:21).

However, the phrase ‘You will seek me and you will not find me’ is a bit more complex.  It refers to the Jewish nation seeking after the Messiah here on earth.  The implication is that such severe woes and calamities would come upon them, that they (the Jews) would earnestly seek and desire a Messiah/deliverer to come and save them. 

Sure enough, not long after the resurrection of Jesus, the Jewish nation was almost wiped out when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by Titus and his armies in AD 70.  It was a horrific war. 

You can be sure that at that time (and in the midst of every severe calamity since), the Jews have earnestly looked for the Messiah.  Sadly, since he has already come, they look in vain.  Even worse, they have also set themselves up to be deceived by anti-Christ.

We also want to note that Jesus describes himself as ‘going to him who sent me’.  This is a powerful statement which indicates that no one will take his life from him; he will both lay it down and pick it up again (John 10:17-18) at the proper time. The religious leaders and heathen kings have no power over him, except what God allows for his own purposes (John 19:10-11).

Just to be clear, ‘You will seek me and you will not find me’ does not mean that they would seek for Jesus as savior and not be able to find him.  All who call upon the name of the Lord are saved; Jesus does not cast aside any who come to him (John 6:37). 

John 7:35-36 – The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him?  Does he intend to go to the Greeks?  What does he mean by saying, ‘You will seek me and you will not find me,’ and, ‘Where I am you cannot come’?”

‘Greek’ is another term meaning Gentile.  At the time of Christ, the Jews were widely scattered, living in Gentile nations such as Egypt, Asia Minor, Syria, Greece, Rome, etc (James 1:1).  In all of these places they lived in Jewish communities and established synagogues.   

The Jews of Jerusalem are wondering if Jesus intends to travel to one of the foreign nations and preach in their synagogue, since the Jews of Jerusalem will not accept his message.  

Let me offer you some encouragement and some relief:

In verse 29, Jesus declares that our heavenly Father is “true” or faithful.  This means that Jesus could completely trust him because he knew his Father would do exactly has he promised. 

We can rely on God’s faithfulness as well.  He will never falter or fail to keep any of the hundreds of promises he has made to us.  God himself declares that he watches over his word to make sure his promises are kept (Jeremiah 1:12).  What promises has God given to you?  Even if it seems like a long time since the promise was made, don’t give up – God is faithful!

Here’s some more good news:  His faithfulness is not dependent upon us in any way; even when we don’t keep our promises, God is still faithful to us (II Timothy 2:15)!

 Let me offer you some strength:

If you think the world is in a hopeless situation, think again.  God is in control and nothing is impossible for him.  He wants to partner with us to bring change upon the earth.  So the best thing you and I can do is to fully commit ourselves to being good soldiers in the army of God. 

Let’s take up the armor God has provided for us, and follow as he leads us into battle by his Spirit.  Let’s pray for the sick, cast out demons and set captives free by sharing the good news of the gospel.  As we fight God’s battles, he will provide all the strength and resources we will need!

John, Chapter 7, Part 2

John 7:14 – About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. 

Having quietly slipped by the people and religious leaders, Jesus was now present in the temple. 

Because of the feast, there was a large multitude assembled in and around the temple.  This would have been a very favorable time for Jesus to teach the people about the kingdom of heaven.

Although we don’t know exactly what Jesus taught that day, we do know that he most often used ordinary images to explain spiritual truths.  That being the case, it is likely that he taught spiritual truths/principles associated with the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths. 

In particular, he may have included doctrine about mankind being in a spiritual sojourn on earth; if we want to possess the ‘Promised Land’ of salvation, we need to accept Jesus as the ultimate sacrificial lamb. 

He probably also used the theme of harvest to explain how God will use us to assist in gathering a great harvest of souls for the kingdom of heaven.

John 7:15 – The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?”

The teaching of the religious leaders of that day had been corrupted.  They twisted religion into something that was a burden to the people, instead of a blessing. 

On the other hand, Jesus taught pure, life-giving doctrines with simple clarity, straightforward reasoning and, no doubt, elegance of expression.  His living words were a joy to the people.

At the same time, his teaching astonished the rulers of the temple.  They couldn’t fathom how Jesus had gained such a thorough understanding of the Old Testament scriptures and Jewish traditions, as he had never earned a ‘degree’ by studying the law with the scribes.  His training from youth had been as a blue collar worker – a carpenter.        

Jesus’ understanding of the scriptures should have been a further proof to the religious community that he was the Messiah.  But instead, these men were inflamed with jealously against him. 

John 7:16 – So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.”

Jesus knows how the minds of the leaders work.  They would reason that if Jesus was not teaching doctrine learned from the Scribes and elders, then he was making up a doctrine of his own.  Obviously, this would be condemned by the Jews as heresy/blasphemy.  It would provide them with a good reason to kill Jesus. 

But Jesus confronts that controversy before they even voice it.  His doctrine didn’t come from the scribes, but it didn’t come from himself either – it came directly from Father God.  In his role as the Messiah, Jesus is a messenger, delivering the word of God to mankind.

Ask yourself this…  Why did God allow Jesus to be raised and trained as a carpenter, instead of having him attend the school of the Scribes? 

Could it be because non-religious training draws even more/greater attention to the source/origin of the gospel?  Jesus was considered uneducated in his day; there is no way he should have possessed more than a common, rudimentary understanding of scripture. 

Yet, he is pouring forth astonishing truth to all the people.  The gospel message is unlike anything they have ever heard.  This bears witness to the fact that his teaching was not his own, nor did it come from any man.  It could only have come directly from Father God to Jesus, who would then reveal it to the world.      

If that is true, then Jesus MUST be the Messiah; God has commissioned him to reveal spiritual truths:

Isaiah 11:1-2 – And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:  And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD…   

Interestingly, Jesus selects a group of uneducated men (fishermen, zealots, tax collectors, etc) to be the apostles.  Later, the religious leaders will be astonished at their teaching and understanding of spiritual truths as well (Acts 4:13).  Again, this is proof that the doctrines being taught are not those of man, but of God. 

John 7:17 – “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.”

Again, Jesus addresses objections before they are even raised by his adversaries. 

The people who are inclined to reject the teaching of Jesus would probably raise an objection similar to this:  ‘You claim to be sent from God, but we have no way of knowing that you are here on his behalf.  Why should we believe you are teaching the commands of God?’

Jesus replies that sound judgment flows from a fear or reverence of God.  If the hearts and minds of the Jews are fully set on the performance of God’s true will, something within their spirits will confirm that his doctrine is true.  That ‘something’ is a nudge of confirmation from Holy Spirit, who knows the mind of God (I Corinthians 2:10-13).    

This holds true not just for the Jews of that day, but for ‘anyone’ – including people alive today.     

This is of great benefit to us as believers.  If we are unsure about the teaching of someone, we can ask Holy Spirit for advice.  He will guide us into all truth (John 16:13) and illuminate our path so that we can confidently remain on the road of righteousness.

John 7:18 – “The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.”

Further proof/confirmation can be found in the outcome of the teaching.

Any teaching which promotes or results in the earthly glory/honor/praise of the speaker while obscuring the glory of God is false.  It has originated from the mind and authority of man and it ought to be firmly rejected by everyone who hears it.  The true children of God will immediately recognize such a teacher as an imposter.  Again, if there is any question, Holy Spirit will reveal the truth you.    

Any teaching which results in the glory of God alone is holy and divine.  In other words, if the natural outcome of the teaching causes the hearer to love the Lord God with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength and to love his neighbor as himself, then it is a true teaching.  It should be followed closely, for it is the command of God. 

In this passage, Jesus is specifically comparing himself with the professional teachers (Scribes, lawyers, Pharisees) of his day.  They were full of pride in their knowledge of the scriptures.  They regarded teaching as a privilege exclusive to their little group and they sought to gain honor and glory from their position. 

By contrast, Jesus sought only the glory of the One who sent him to earth.  He submitted his own will to the will of the Father, and taught only what the Father expressly desired. For this reason, there was no possibility of unrighteousness being found in him.  The people could safely believe all that he revealed to them from the Father.

John 7:19 – “Has not Moses given you the law?  Yet none of you keeps the law.  Why do you seek to kill me?”

It would seem likely that after the statement of Jesus in verse 18, the religious leaders would have made some rebuttal statement, which John has not recorded for us.  We already know they were publicly branding Jesus as a deceiver of the people (John 7:12), and they probably reiterated those false accusations at this time.    

They are basing this calumny on the assumption that Jesus was not an exact observer of the law, because he had healed a man (the paralytic of chapter five) on the Sabbath.  In fact, their hatred and opposition to Jesus really took off after the healing and subsequent teachings of chapter five.   

Their logic goes something like this:  Since Jesus healed on the Sabbath, he is a violator of the law, which automatically makes him a false prophet.  Because he is a false prophet, he is a deceiver of the people.  Both of these accusations carry the death penalty, according to the law (Exodus 31:14, Deuteronomy 13:5).     

But notice, if you will, how the actions of the Jews perfectly prove the words/teaching of Jesus: 

According to Jesus, if any person has an earnest desire to know/accomplish God’s will, Holy Spirit will nudge their hearts and confirm that Jesus was giving them sound teaching.  Furthermore, they can be sure his teaching is true because it results in the glory of Father God, not his own personal glory. 

Since the Jews have branded Jesus a deceiver and they want to kill him, we can conclude they do not have the desire to know God’s will. 

Instead, they wanted to rely on the law as given by Moses.  This is where we see the final irony – this confrontation takes place during the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles.  Moses mandated that the entirety of the law must be read during this feast as a reminder to the Jews to keep the law (Deuteronomy 31:10).  Tradition says it was customary to read Deuteronomy 1:1-6:3 first.  Within that very section of the law was the command ‘Do not kill’.  But right at that very moment, they were plotting to murder Jesus.  This means that in their hearts they were planning to kill Jesus while being present at the feast and professing their commitment to keep the law!

John 7:20 – The crowd answered, “You have a demon!  Who is seeking to kill you?”

It was a common belief among the Jews that when people have lost all common sense and reason, they are being tormented by the devil or they are under demonic influence/possession.  If that is the case, we could say that many people here in the United States have a demon! 

We see a lack of sound judgment and common sense all around us.  Where does it stem from?  It is the direct result of abandoning the righteous laws of God and rebelling against his authority.  Scripture warns that those who do so will eventually lose the ability to determine right from wrong, and they will make decisions which are bad for themselves and others:  

Romans 1:28 – And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

In Romans 1:29-31, Paul goes on to list a great number of symptoms found in those who disregard the laws of God.  Go ahead and look it up for yourself – it is an exact picture of what we see in our nation today.  It is the headline in any and every news story of our time!  I want you to notice one description in particular, found in verse 31:

Romans 1:31 – Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

Paul plainly states that those who abandon the righteous laws of God are “without understanding”.  In other words, they make foolish decisions, which result in harm and detriment to themselves and others.  

This is a very simple concept.  The laws of God bring life into our lives.  The closer we live to the righteous laws of God, the better decisions we make and the better off we will be.  Our idea of ‘common sense’ will be in harmony with God’s righteousness. 

However, if we abandon the laws of God, we are left with nothing but our own reprobate minds which have been corrupted by sin and death. 

Proverbs 16:25 – There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

The closer we live to our own (aka Satan’s) laws, the worse off we will be because this can only result in bringing death into our lives.  Our version of ‘common sense’ will match Satan’s version, and our decisions will bring further death and destruction to ourselves and our nation.

Can this be reversed?  If so, how?

I believe this can be reversed, but it won’t be easy.  First of all, there must be a great revival in the land, which awakens the hearts and minds of people to the principles of righteous living found in the word of God.  People need to firmly believe in absolute truth as well as right and wrong as defined by God.  Only then can we make decisions that breathe life into our earthly existence.

Secondly, people must be willing to renew/conform their thoughts, desires and actions to those of God.  The apostle Paul understood this; he encouraged all believers to renew their minds:

Romans 12:2 – And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.     

Thirdly, we who are already in the kingdom of heaven MUST commit to a holy way of living.  For a long time now it has been almost impossible to determine who is in the world and who is in the church, because there isn’t much of a difference between the two.  How sad!  If we want to be the salt and light of the world, we must be different from the children of darkness.

As we return our focus to the situation of Jesus at the temple, we again notice that the ‘crowd’ asks Jesus if he has a devil, because he thinks someone is trying to kill him.  Their comment can be explained in one of two ways:   

  • The ‘crowd’ or common people present in the temple may be truly ignorant of the plot to kill Christ, which is why they deny it.  This is entirely possible because the majority of the people attending the feast live outside of Jerusalem.  In this pre-social media age, news of the assassination plot may not have been widely known.  Therefore, they think Jesus is being paranoid when he says there is a plot to kill him. 
  • The religious leaders publicly deny their true intentions and support the idea of Jesus being mentally unstable, in order to cast further doubt upon his ministry.  If they fail in their quest to kill him, the second best outcome is to ruin his credibility among the people, so no one will follow him.

John 7:21 – Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it.” 

In verses 21-24, Jesus gives proof that he is not guilty of breaking the law as they claim. 

Think of him as a lawyer presenting his own defense.  He begins the case by entering the attitude of the Jews into the record.  They ‘marvel’ at the healing of the paralytic man at the pool of Bethesda (house of Mercy) and Jesus’ subsequent command for him to carry his bed. 

Specifically, ‘marvel’ means surprise and displeasure.  Rather than being grateful to God for his mercy, they were consumed by astonishment that the healing (and the carrying of the bed) were done on the Sabbath.  They considered these actions a violation of the Law of Moses (Leviticus 23:3).    

John 7:22 – “Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.”

The Jews always credit Moses for handing down the law, but not all of the law originated with him.  Specifically, circumcision was instituted long before Moses; it began under the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (the fathers).  Jesus reminds the ‘court’ that Moses was not appointing circumcision as a new institution, he was merely incorporating it into his collection of laws.

Jesus has been accused of violating the Sabbath.  He now goes on to lay out  the defense’s case, beginning with two common examples from the lives of the Jews – circumcision and the Sabbath.

The Jews had been commanded to circumcise their male children on the eighth day of life.  But they had also been commanded not to do any work on the Sabbath.  So what should the people do when the time to circumcise a child fell on the Sabbath?  Which law should prevail?

The reasoning commonly appropriated by all rabbis (including those now opposing Jesus), came from the school of Hillel the Great.  This reasoning concluded that a positive injunction (do this) always took precedence over a negative injunction (don’t do this) when the two coincided. 

Circumcision was a positive command (do this on the eighth day), while observing the Sabbath was a negative command (don’t do work, etc on the Sabbath).  Therefore, the rabbis concluded that Jewish male children should be circumcised on the eighth day, even if it was the Sabbath.   

Consequently, Jewish males were ALWAYS circumcised on the eighth day of life (Genesis 17:10-11).  Period.  No exceptions.  Again, if the eighth day fell on a Sabbath, this work was still performed, since the law of circumcision was a positive law (do this) and positive laws to precedence over negative laws. 

In other words, because it was commanded by God to circumcise on the eighth day, then doing so could not be a breach or violation of the Sabbath. 

In fact, the opposite was true.  From this (and other instances), it is evident that keeping the Sabbath, even in the strictest sense of the word, still allowed works of necessity and mercy to be done on it; and those who failed to perform such works on that day when given the opportunity were violators of every law founded on the principles of mercy and justice!     

John 7:23 – “If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the Law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well?”

Let’s reiterate that one more time: Keeping the Sabbath not only allowed works of necessity and mercy to be done on it; those who failed to perform such works on that day when given the opportunity were violators of every law founded on the principles of mercy and justice.

If circumcision is allowed on the Sabbath, then why are the religious leaders so angry that Jesus completely restored a man on that day?  By their own interpretation of the law, Jesus had not only the opportunity but the duty to show mercy to the paralytic that day.

It should also be noted that when the Jews circumcised a child, it was a sign of the covenant between the Jews and the Lord.  It was an assurance that God had not forgotten his people; he still watched over them and planned to bring about his plans for their lives. 

In the same way, the healing of the paralytic showed that God had not forgotten his people.  He saw the damage sin inflicted upon their lives.  He had a plan to completely heal them – body, soul and spirit.  Rather than being angry when this man was healed, the Jews should have been rejoicing that God was moving among them!  

 John 7:24 – “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

On the surface, it may appear to be a violation of the Sabbath to perform circumcision on that day.  However, if one sets aside prejudice, partiality and pride and looks logically and honestly at the law, they will discover it is NOT a violation.   

Likewise, it may appear to be a violation of the Sabbath to heal a man on that day, but it isn’t.  If the religious leaders would set aside their pride and their prejudice against Jesus, and impartially look at the facts, they would certainly arrive at the correct conclusion – healing a man is NOT a violation of the Sabbath.

If Jesus really were in a court room, he would have just won his case!  Having successfully defended himself and his actions, he now gives a word of rebuke to the ‘prosecutors’ in this case – don’t jump to conclusions; impartially examine a situation and render righteous/correct judgment!

What a profound lesson for all of us!  If you have ever been in a situation where someone else judged you unjustly, you know how much that stings/wounds you.  You certainly won’t want to do that to anyone else.

So make sure you don’t jump to conclusions after hearing or seeing only one side of a situation.  Have the courage to respectfully ask the people involved to tell their side of the story.  Examine their motivations.  If the Jewish leaders had done that to Jesus, they could have avoided a public rebuke by Jesus.  Perhaps, if they laid their pride aside, they could have been convicted by Holy Spirit and accepted Jesus as the Messiah.     

Let me offer you some encouragement:

Sometimes it can be awkward to share the gospel message with people.  If that is the case for you, why not do what Jesus did – he used common examples from daily life which mirrored spiritual truths.

In this case, he used the Feast of Booths to reveal hidden spiritual principles, such as our sojourn on earth or the great end time harvest of souls. 

Think of some everyday conversations you have had recently.  Using these common topics of conversation, can you think of a way to more easily introduce the gospel message?  I bet you can!  Let’s try to make that connection more often.

Let me offer you some relief:

The religious leaders of that day were very intimidating.  If you weren’t fully educated according to their standards, you had no business being a spiritual teacher or leader in any capacity.  They were reluctant to accept anything Jesus said based on the fact that he was a mere carpenter! 

But let me offer you some relief – God doesn’t require a man-made degree in order to use you effectively in his kingdom!  If you have a right relationship with God, he will fill you with his Holy Spirit and give you power to witness, heal, teach and otherwise minister to both believers and non-believers. 

That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t study and understand the scriptures (II Timothy 2:15).  However, don’t let the absence of a degree stop you from being used in ministry!   

Let me offer you some strength:

It is vitally important that we make just judgments in every situation of life.  In order to do so, we must set aside our pride and our personal prejudices.  This can be a difficult thing to do, but unless we look at situations impartially in light of God’s truth/law, we have no hope of making right judgments.  Let’s try to make it a habit not to jump to conclusions, but to examine every side of an issue before we make a judgment.

  

    

       

John, Chapter 7, Part 1

John 7:1 – After this Jesus went about in Galilee.  He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him.

As the scene opens here in chapter 7, we find a situation of overall hostility toward Jesus. 

The support of the common people had quickly grown cold after the ‘Bread of Heaven’ sermon in Capernaum. 

The religious leaders had turned on Jesus even earlier; they were already seeking to kill him:

John 5:16-18 – And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the Sabbath day.  But Jesus answered them, My Father works still, and I work.  Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

Even his own family (see below) did not believe in him; his brothers challenged his ministry at this time and on several other occasions.

Knowing that the rage of the religious leaders had blossomed into a plan to end his life, Jesus simply stayed away from Judea/Jerusalem for a time, as not to aggravate his enemies.  His decision had nothing to do with a fear of the Jews; since his time had not yet come, there was no purpose in confronting his adversaries at that precise moment.

Instead, he travelled around Galilee teaching and ministering to all who would listen.  As he preached his way through the region, his travels brought him closer and closer to Judea and Jerusalem.

John 7:2 – Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand.

We were told that the events in chapter 6 took place near the time of the Passover (John 6:4).  Here in chapter 7, John relates events surrounding the Feast of Booths which occurs several months later.  This results in a difference of opinion among scholars.  Did Jesus attend the Passover in Jerusalem that year or not? 

  • Those who say ‘no’ maintain that Jesus stayed in Galilee during the Passover due to the open hostility of the Jews.  This theory does carry some weight because we know that the Pharisees, Scribes and other religious leaders were in Jerusalem, actively looking for Jesus so they could kill him. 
  • Others believe that Jesus would never have missed presenting himself before the Lord at the temple, as all males were required to do (Deuteronomy 16:16).  This theory also carries weight, because Jesus perfectly fulfilled the law. 

Regardless of what happened at that particular Passover, John is now relating events that took place during the time of the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34-43) which was also known as the Feast of Booths or the Feast of Ingathering (Exodus 23:16).

What do we know about this feast?

It began on the 15th day of Tisri and it lasted seven days (Deuteronomy 16:13-15).  Tisri corresponds to mid-September/mid-October on our calendar. This week was immediately followed by a day of solemn assembly.  This last day (or eighth day) was actually a separate celebration or closing festival (Leviticus 23:34-36).  It was considered the greatest day of the feast. 

Two things are normally being celebrated during this feast – Israel’s passage through the desert and thanksgiving for the harvest.

During the time of the desert wandering, the Jews lived a nomadic lifestyle – they moved from place to place to place, living in tents or other temporary dwellings.  Even the tabernacle was designed as a movable building.  Obviously, this phase of their existence lasted 40 years. 

Eventually, God brought them into the Promised Land, where they inherited permanent dwellings.  The Feast of Booths was a celebration that honored God for ending their wandering by giving them their own nation/inheritance.   

Since temporary dwellings (booths/huts/tabernacles) characterized the desert wandering, this was the symbol used during the Feast of Booths to remind Israel how God had kept his promises to them (Leviticus 23:34-43).  The Jews would erect temporary booths or huts and live in them for the duration of the seven day celebration.       

In Jerusalem, these structures would pop up almost anywhere –  on the roofs of houses, in the temple court and even on some of the street corners.  These simple structures typically consisted of a frame filled in with boughs of olive, palm, pine, myrtle and other trees (Leviticus 23:40).

Spiritually speaking, this world is a place of desert sojourning for every Christian; eventually God will bring us into our permanent eternal home.  While it may sometimes seem to last forever, the truth is that our lives here on earth are actually very short.  James describes the length of our earthly life as a vapor or mist, which vanishes as soon as it comes:

James 4:14 – Whereas you know not what shall be tomorrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.

The Feast of Booths is an excellent reminder to us that our time/sojourn here is short.  If we want to be active in the kingdom of heaven, we must do so NOW.  None of us is guaranteed tomorrow!

The second component of this feast was a celebration of the harvest.  During the time of the desert wandering, God provided manna for the Israelites to eat.  Without his provision, they would have starved to death.  Eventually, when God brought them into their inheritance, they were able to plant crops and reap normal harvests.  So this festival is also one of thanksgiving to God for providing the food/harvest for the year.

During the seven feast days, specific offerings were sacrificed to the Lord in the temple.  Each day two rams and 14 one-year-old lambs were sacrificed.  Numerous bulls were also sacrificed – 13 on the first day, 12 on the second day, 11 on the third, etc.  This means that on the final day seven bulls were sacrificed with the weekly total being 70.  There were also specific grain and drink offerings given on these days as well (see Numbers 29:12-38 for full details).

The sacrifices for the next day, or day of solemn assembly (also called the eighth day, even though it was a separate feast) included one bull, one ram, and seven lambs plus grain and drink offerings. 

During the festival the entire Law was read in the hearing of all the Jews – men, women, children and even ‘strangers’ or non-Jewish people who were part of the nation (Deuteronomy 31:10-13). 

Why do you suppose the entire law was read to the people during this time? 

Back in the day, people did not have their own copies of the word of God as we do today.  They couldn’t just read it or study it whenever they desired, so these public days of reading were a very important review of God’s laws. 

The Bible speaks about God’s people falling away from him during times of peace and prosperity:

Deuteronomy 31:20 -For when I [the Lord] shall have brought them into the land which I swore unto their fathers, that flows with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and grown fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant.

It was therefore appropriate for the people to be reminded of God’s provision as they celebrated possession of the Promised Land and the harvests that kept them alive.

All things considered, the Feast of Booths was a very joyous and exciting celebration of the goodness of God.

John 7:3 – So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing.”

In our culture, the word ‘brother’ is a specific term used to mean a sibling.  But in the Hebrew culture, the word has a much broader definition.  It can mean any close relative, such as a cousin (first, second, third) or an uncle.

Mary had at least one sister (John 19:25), and historical writings say that Joseph had several children by a former wife.  Potentially, there were lots of ‘brothers’ or close relatives in the earthly family of Jesus. 

So while the use of the word ‘brother’ in this verse might refer exclusively to the actual half-brothers of Jesus, it could also include a much bigger group of people.

At any rate, these relatives felt like they had the right to give advice to Jesus about how to conduct his ministry.  Can you believe that?

In some ways, I can… because people still do the same thing today.  What is your ministry?  Have you ever had a brother or sister in Christ come and tell you how to run it, or what you should/should not do?  Or perhaps they are being critical of your ministry, pointing out areas where they think you could do better, while at the same time, they aren’t helping you in any way.  I have experienced this first hand; it can be a very discouraging experience.

If you have a ministry, it probably falls under the umbrella of some authority like a pastor, board of trustees, church council or something of that nature.  That’s a good idea; this authority can help you avoid trouble/pitfalls, help you manage finances, and give you wise advice.  But the true head of any Christian ministry is Jesus.  He will advise you on how to run your ministry through Holy Spirit.

So if you receive the same kind of help or advice that Jesus is about to receive, don’t let it discourage or irritate you.  Continue to be in close communion with Jesus and he will make your path clear. 

In this particular case, the brothers of Jesus advise him to leave Galilee and head for the more populated/public places.  Their earthly/fleshly minds reasoned that if a person wants to be a celebrity, they need to perform in front of as many people as possible, or at least in front of the most influential people in society.  They think that Jesus needs the support of others to have a successful ministry, or that Jesus will build his ministry on the foundation of other religious leaders. 

Based on this thinking, they conclude that if Jesus really is (or wants to be) the Messiah, he should go to Jerusalem where the church leaders resided and allow the people there to witness his miracles. 

John 7:4-5 – “For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly.  If you do these things, show yourself to the world.”  For not even his brothers believed in him.

It is also possible that the relatives of Jesus are mocking his claim to be the Messiah.

They more or less challenge him to prove his claim by going to the upcoming Feast of Booths/Tabernacles and performing miracles in front of the crowds that would ‘prove’ he was the Messiah, or at least make him a wildly popular new leader in the Jewish community. 

Again, their underlying thought process seems to be that any miracle or move of God that happened in a remote region was a waste of time and resources, because people of low esteem in society could not help Jesus reach his goal of being accepted as the Messiah.  The testimony of common people was worth nothing; in their opinion Jesus needed the backing of the religious leaders/influential people of Jerusalem.  They did not think Jesus was doing enough to secure that backing/support.

Although their reasoning seems ludicrous to us, it falls in line with the normal Jewish view that the Messiah was going to be a world ruler who would defeat their enemies (Rome) and immediately set up a physical kingdom on earth.

There may also have been an element of resentment or envy in their lives.  Growing up with Jesus as a brother or relative was probably somewhat difficult as he never sinned or did the wrong thing, as we often do.  Yet, at the same time, his perfection should have been a testimony to them that he was the Messiah. 

One further point:  In our last post, we discussed how Judas Iscariot was a true witness to the genuine character of Jesus.  The same was true of the family of Jesus.  If they had been fervent supporters of Jesus from the beginning, the religious leaders may have accused them of a conspiracy to make Jesus into something he was not. 

But since the family did not believe in him as Messiah, they (like Judas) would have gladly pointed out any part of his life that did not line up with his claims to be the Son of God.  Consequently, their early unbelief is further evidence of his genuine character and divine nature.  The good news is that scripture indicates they eventually DID become Christians.

John 7:6-7 – Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here.  The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.”

The word ‘time’ may refer to either his manifestation as the Messiah, or the time of his death.  In either case, Jesus responds to this advice by telling his brothers that they have no idea what they are talking about!

They could freely go up to the Feast of Booths or the capital of Jerusalem at any time without danger, because the world is friendly and favorable to them.  By ‘world’, Jesus means men and women who retain their carnal nature because they are children of the devil (John 15:19).  They have not yet received the gospel message and allowed the Spirit to regenerate or re-birth them into the Kingdom of Heaven.  In our current vernacular we would say they are not yet ‘born again’.

Because they were still part of the world, Jesus’ relatives would largely be unnoticed at the feast.  On the surface, they were common Jews who did not oppose the members of the Sanhedrin or other religious leaders.  Spiritually speaking, they were not going to do anything that would expose the sin of the current religious system; they were of no danger or consequence to the kingdom of satan.  

Jesus, however, was a mortal enemy of the world because he exposed and reproved it of sin.  When the gospel message is clearly proclaimed, men and women recognize their guilt/sin.  Therefore, satan will do anything in his power to oppose the gospel message, because it results in the salvation of people and the destruction of his kingdom. 

For the most part, the religious community of that day was under the influence of satan.  They clearly saw Jesus as an enemy; they already made the decision to silence (kill) him as soon as possible.  Therefore, Jesus had to carefully follow the leading of Holy Spirit in regards to his appearance at the feast.

This brings up two points for our consideration:

One, Jesus didn’t seek persecution, but he didn’t run from it either.  This is a principle he displayed throughout his ministry.  It is one we have already made note of in our study of John’s gospel.  It is a principle we should live by as well.  Just like Jesus, we need to seek Holy Spirit for up-to-date information on when to confront the kingdom of darkness, and when to avoid it.  

Secondly, we can’t help but notice that satan was comfortable operating in the religious system of that day.  What religious system are you operating under? 

James 4:4 – You adulterers and adulteresses, know you not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?  Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Does your church stand by the doctrines of the Bible, even though they are in direct conflict to what the world believes?  Or is satan at home in your church because it mirrors his kingdom? 

What about you personally – is there a difference between your conduct/speech/goals and that of the world?  How big of a difference?  Are you on fire for God or has your association with the world made you lukewarm?  Remember, God would rather that you are either cold or hot; if we are lukewarm like the Laodiceans, Jesus will spit us out of his mouth (Revelation 3:16)!

John 7:8-9 – “You go up to the feast.  I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.”  After saying this, he remained in Galilee.

Jesus tells his brothers not to wait for him.  They should go up to the feast whenever they were ready; he would come at the time that was right for him.

Jesus remained where he was until about the middle of the feast (verse 14).  Specifically, he waited until about four days after his brothers (and the vast majority of the Jews in general) had gone to Jerusalem.  By arriving separately from his family, there was a much better chance of him arriving anonymously or inconspicuously.  It is unclear whether or not he traveled to the feast with the twelve. 

John 7:10 – But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private.

Based on what we found earlier in the gospel of John, it is very likely that all of the Jews (including the relatives of Jesus) would have traveled to Jerusalem via the roads on the eastern side of the Jordan.  Jesus, however, probably chose to go through Samaria. 

This would have given him the chance to further minister in that community, while also allowing him to avoid the crowds of people using the eastern route to the capital.  In this instance, avoiding the crowds was very prudent.  If he walked with them, he would have attracted a lot of attention; people would certainly have asked him for miracles.  Had he performed miracles of healing/deliverance/provision, it would have been published immediately upon his entrance to Jerusalem which in turn would have caused swift confrontation with his enemies.

So the combination of coming at a later time, coming alone and taking a different route resulted in his ‘private’ journey to Jerusalem.

John 7:11 – The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?”

In this verse ‘the Jews’ refers to the Scribes, Pharisees and other official representatives of the nation (not the inhabitants of Jerusalem in general).  Apparently, they were all anxiously looking for the arrival of Jesus. 

The fact that they were looking for him tells us several things:

  • They naturally expected him to be there.  As a devout Jew and adherent to the law, Jesus attended all of the mandated feasts.  Therefore, the rulers could be absolutely certain that Jesus would attend the Feast of Booths.
  • Their hostility towards him had reached a level that produced some kind of a definite plot against him.  There can be no question about this.  They intended to kill him about six months earlier, at the Passover (John 5:18) for allegedly violating the Sabbath and for making himself equal with God.  When that didn’t work, they came up with a new plan, which they were anxious to execute. 
  • They were actively trying to prevent the common Jews from turning to Jesus.  The next verses plainly show that the Jews wanted to hear more from Jesus, but they lived in fear of the religious rulers, who warned them against following Christ.  In fact, the rulers threatened the people with expulsion from the synagogue if they supported Jesus (John 9:22, John 12:42).

John 7:12 – And there was much muttering about him among the people.  While some said, “He is a good man“, others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.”

Anytime people congregate in crowds or gatherings they tend to discuss current events and/or the noteworthy people of their day.  No doubt you and I can verify this by our own behavior. 

The Jews back in Jerusalem did the same thing.  As they saw friends, relatives and even acquaintances at the feast, Jesus was a common topic of conversation; his character was a source of great debate. 

  • Was he a good man?  A new prophet sent to them directly from God?  Those who had seen or experienced his miracles and heard his teaching certainly thought so.  How could anyone do such miracles unless God was with him?  Besides, Jesus taught with authority, not like the Scribes and Pharisees.      
  • Was he a charlatan; a false Messiah who was deceiving them for his own gain?  Those who were offended at his teaching certainly thought so.  Besides, if the religious rulers of the nation labeled him a heretic and a fake, who were the Jews to argue?

The multitude was certainly divided in their opinions concerning him. 

John 7:13 – Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him.

In this instance, ‘openly’ means ‘boldly’.  This comment refers to Jesus’ supporters, not his critics.  Those who sided with the religious leaders had no reason to fear sharing their opinions. 

However, those who believed he was the Messiah dared not boldly declare it for fear of reprisals from the leaders of the nation.  They quietly said good things about him but did not boldly support him in public. 

Interestingly, our culture is moving in the same direction.  Those who believe in definite truth or right and wrong as outlined in the Bible are marginalized or accused of being hateful to certain segments of society.  Many media outlets and social media sites want to block any free speech about Jesus or absolute truth or what the Bible classifies as right/wrong.  Even government is trying to curb our freedom to practice Christianity and stand up for righteousness. 

Personally, I expect this trend to continue.  But I also expect God to release a powerful move of Holy Spirit on the earth.  With his anointing, we can boldly confront those who oppose us, as the disciples did after the day of Pentecost.  With his anointing, we can expect miracles to once again be commonplace in the church.  And we can expect a world-wide harvest of souls… perhaps even the greatest enemies of the cross will become our brothers and sisters.  AMEN!

Let me offer you some encouragement, relief and strength:

Family… sometimes there is nothing better and sometimes there is nothing worse!

The family of Jesus did not understand or accept his role as the Messiah (at first).  They had a mixture of unbelief, envy and true concern which caused them to ridicule and question his every move.  Some of us have family who do the same!

But Jesus did not allow them to side track his mission; he continued to follow the leading of Holy Spirit.  He maintained his relationships with his family, despite their efforts to make his life harder.  There is no evidence to suggest that he argued or became angry with them, even though they did not believe in him as Messiah.  (Let’s face it… he could have called down fire from heaven to consume them, but he didn’t.  I wonder if we would make the same choice!)

Scripture indicates that eventually, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, his brothers become Christians and entered into the kingdom of heaven.

Perhaps you have a similar situation – a loved one who mocks and/or questions your faith.  They may even throw every mistake you make in your face.  I have a relative like this, and sometimes it can be very exasperating!

My advice (or what I try to do anyway), is follow the lead of Jesus.  I continue to lift this relative up before the throne of God, asking for their salvation.  I continue to maintain contact with them, even when they spew hateful rhetoric about the gospel.  I try to reason with them and engage in debate with them, while still loving them.  I know you are doing the same for your unsaved loved ones.

Let us steadfastly continue to minister to them, no matter what.  I have faith that someday they will surrender to Christ, just as the brothers of Jesus did.  In the meantime, we will not give up on them!   

John, Chapter 6, Part 5

John 6:51-52 – “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.  And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”  The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

All throughout this chapter, Jesus has been revealing himself to the Jews.

He is using a natural principle (eating bread to sustain physical life), to explain to them what is occurring in the spiritual realm (believing on him will produce and sustain spiritual life). 

But they don’t seem to be grasping this concept.  Whose fault is that? 

Is it the fault of Christ?  Certainly not!  We can be sure that the words of Jesus were not null or void (Isaiah 55:11).  His words were anointed by Holy Spirit and empowered to bring about faith which results in eternal life to every person in the world (I John 2:2). 

Is it the fault of the religious leaders in the synagogue?  The answer would have to be ‘partly’.  Since they were the religious leaders, the common people looked to them for spiritual guidance.  When they rejected the teachings of Jesus, their followers were much more likely to do the same.

Is it the fault of each individual?  Yes, absolutely!  Each one of the people present heard the words of Jesus.  Some of them had even experienced the multiplication of the loaves and fish.  Each one of them had the opportunity to choose eternal life or spiritual blindness. 

Sadly, most of this assembly opted for spiritual blindness.  As a result, they misinterpreted the words of Jesus. They completely missed the concept that the flesh of Jesus would be the ultimate fulfillment of the Passover lamb; his blood provided atonement for sin and resulted in eternal life.  Instead, they assume that if the flesh of Jesus is the bread of life, they must resort to cannibalism to enter into it!

The transition from speaking about ‘bread’ to ‘flesh’ seems to be an abrupt one to English speakers. However, according to scholars, it was not like that for the original group in the synagogue that day. The Hebrew word for ‘bread’ means ‘flesh’ in Syriac and Arabic.  The listeners would have understood the play on words.

If you are reading this blog, odds are that you have already accepted Christ as your savior; you already know him as the bread of life.  But there is another point to be made from these verses that we don’t want to overlook.

Consider this:  Holy Spirit was present on that day, at that time, to quicken the hearts of the Jews to receive the gospel.  But when they didn’t respond, they lost that particular opportunity. 

The same is true for us.  When we hear the words of God and our spirits are quickened to receive them, it is vital that we don’t wait – we need grasp onto that word/promise immediately.  If we don’t, we run the risk of missing out/losing what God wants to do in our lives (Matthew 4:18-22).  Jesus puts it this way:

Luke 8:5 –A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.

Luke 8:12 -Those by the wayside are they that hear; then comes the devil, and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

Notice that some of the seed the farmer scattered did penetrate the soil.  It sort of hung out there in the open field.  This made it an easy target for scavengers.  Spiritually speaking, when Holy Spirit quickens a word or a promise to us, we need to get that thing planted in our hearts immediately, or the enemy can steal it from us.  For example:

  • If you are experiencing back pain while listening to a sermon, and someone gives a word that God is healing back pain, don’t wait until later to claim that promise.  No matter where you happen to be at that exact moment, immediately exercise your faith and claim your healing, before Satan has a chance to steal that blessing and replace it with doubt (Matthew 2:12). 
  • If you are in a service and Holy Spirit is moving, ask him for a spiritual gift right then.  Don’t wait until you get home or until you think about it for a while; you have to flow with the move of God.
  • If there is an area of your life (relationships, finances, etc) that is dead and you hear a word of God promising resurrection, don’t wait!  Immediately act upon the word God is giving you, so God can restore life to that situation (Mark 5:39-42).

John 6:53 – So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”

Let’s talk about life and blood for a moment.  There are numerous passages in the Old Testament that forbid the Israelites to eat the blood of animals.  There wasn’t a single Israelite who did not know this.  Consequently, unless they were being obstinate, there was NO WAY they could interpret the words of Jesus literally.  They HAD to know he was speaking spiritually. 

Leviticus 17:10-11 -And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel… that eats any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.

(See also Genesis 9:4, Deuteronomy 12:16, 23-24, Ezekiel 33:25, Acts 15:29, etc).  God is very clear about the reason for not eating blood: the life of the animal is in its blood.  God accepted the life (blood) of certain animals as atonement rather than requiring the life (blood) of the soul that actually sinned.  Again, this basic truth was known to every Israelite.  It was demonstrated over and over, each time they brought a sin offering to the temple, and especially each and every Passover.

It really didn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that Jesus was speaking about himself as the fulfillment of the Passover sacrifice, the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world (John 1:29) by shedding his life (blood) in our place.

But as is true of many of the teachings of Jesus, they are plain to those who truly desire to understand and confusing or hidden to those who do not.

John 6:54-55 – “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”

Jesus received a physical body upon his incarnation for the express purpose of giving that life to be crucified for us; his life in exchange for ours.  With his blood he purchased a buffet of privileges for us:

  1. Pardon for sin. 
  2. Acceptance with God. 
  3. Adoption as a son/daughter. 
  4. Access to the throne of grace. 
  5. All the promises of the covenant. 
  6. Eternal life.
  7. Much, much more!

These benefits are way beyond anything we could ever deserve!  Most of us can hardly even comprehend all that God has made available to us.  How can we appropriate these benefits for ourselves?

First, we need a spiritual appetite.  We need to be hungry for the presence and power of God in our lives.  We can work up spiritual hunger by searching the scriptures, by worshiping and spending time in his presence.  Jesus has assured us that if we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we shall be filled (Matthew 5:6).

Second, we receive or claim the promises/benefits by faith in Christ.  In the natural realm, a hungry person can starve to death at a buffet, if he refuses to partake/ingest what is being offered to him.  In the same way, God has set a table before us which contains all of his goodness and grace, but it is of no use unless we receive it by faith.

Third, we must continually feed upon him.  We need (and desire) physical food multiple times a day in order to thrive.  In the same way, we need to regularly feed upon Christ and his benefits so that our spiritual man can grow, increase in strength, come to maturity and bear fruit.

John 6:56-57 – “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.  As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.”

Jesus has revealed to the Jews the divine order of life.  God is our living Father.  He has life in and of himself; he is the great I AM. 

Jesus Christ is also the great I AM, and has life in and of himself.  However, when he was incarnated on earth as our Mediator, he lived by the Father (John 5:26). 

In Matthew Henry’s Whole Bible Commentary, Mr. Henry describes it this way: “He [Father God] that sent him [Jesus], not only qualified him with that life which was necessary to so great an undertaking, but constituted in him the treasury of divine life to us; he breathed into the second Adam the breath of spiritual lives, as into the first Adam the breath of natural lives.”

True believers receive this divine spiritual life by virtue of their union with Christ.  Therefore, the person who spiritually feeds on Jesus lives by the life he provides, just as Jesus lived by the life his Father provided. 

John 6:58-59 – “This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died.  Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

This is the conclusion to the deep, profound and wonderful sermon which Jesus gave at Capernaum. 

As you recall, it began with a crowd of people seeking Jesus for the physical loaves and fish he could provide for them.  Jesus chastised them for seeking nothing more than an easy meal; he instructed them to seek spiritual food through him, the bread of life.

They rejected this idea, claiming that the manna provided to Israel in the wilderness was superior to any ‘bread’ that Jesus could provide. 

But Jesus shows that he provides something far more excellent that physical food.  He is spiritual food; he intended to sacrifice himself (his blood) to atone for their sins and those who have faith in him will have eternal life. 

John 6:60 –When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”

In this verse, the term ‘disciple’ is used in a wide sense to mean all people who more or less followed Jesus.  The group would have included true believers as well as many who did not believe but were curious.  It would also have included those members of the religious community who sought to work against him.  In short, it does not refer exclusively to the 12 apostles. 

The bottom line is that these people were happy to follow Christ, as long as they agreed with everything he said.  But when they heard this sermon, it became a stumbling block in their road of faith.  As a result, many of them made the decision to stop following Christ. 

They claimed that these truths were a ‘hard’ saying.  In this context, ‘hard’ could also be translated offensive or disagreeable.  To be clear, it was not hard/difficult to hear or understand; it was simply hard for them to accept.  The Jews were offended that this man placed himself above Moses, that he called himself the bread of heaven, and that he insisted they needed to be saved by his atonement.

John 6:61-62 – But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?  Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?”

Notice that John specifically says Jesus ‘knew in himself’ that there was grumbling among his followers.  This indicates that there was no external source for this information; he was able to discern this through divine omniscience. 

He then addresses the issue head-on, by confronting their attitude.  Did they find his teaching/doctrine regarding the bread of heaven offensive?  If so, they weren’t going to like what would happen in the future!

If they were looking for proof that his words were true, they wouldn’t have to wait very long.  Soon he would be crucified, spilling his blood as he promised.  Then he would be raised to life on the third day and eventually he would ascend back up into heaven where he came from – and there would be many witnesses to that fact.  Perhaps then this obstinate group would believe!

John 6:63 – “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.  The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”

Jesus testifies to this crowd that they have absolutely no reason to find his doctrine offensive.  The words/teachings he imparted to them were spiritual; they had the power to quicken and nourish their souls.  This would result in eternal life.

 By contrast, their doctrines and views were all earthly/fleshly, pertaining only to the support of the physical body.  Despite their great respect for the manna that came under the watch of Moses, it did not bring everlasting life to their ancestors; all of them died and were buried. Neither would it help them to satisfy their innermost wants and desires, even if it was still available. 

Therefore, these people should stop and reconsider their choices. 

John 6:64 – “But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)

Again, John points out that Jesus was divine/omniscient because only God has knowledge of the secrets and motives found within the heart of every individual.  Only God can discern who believed in Jesus as Messiah, and who just followed him out of curiosity. 

Jesus reveals that many of his current followers would not profit by his teaching, because they failed to mix it with the faith/belief necessary to produce change in their inward man.

Hebrews 4:2 – For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

This brings up the topic of unbelief, which was the chief sin of the Jews.  Evidence of their gross unbelief is found all throughout scriptures (Deuteronomy 1:32, II Kings 17:13-16, Luke 24:25, Luke 22:67, John 3:12, etc).

In this situation, the crowd might have argued that they heard the words of Jesus, but were not spiritually quickened/made alive.  However, the fault was not with the words of God, but with their unbelief, which caused them to despise the words of life and prevented them from obtaining its benefits.

Is there unbelief lurking in our hearts and minds?  My guess is that we are a lot like the earthly father of the child in Mark chapter 9, who confessed to a mixture of belief and doubt.  This makes sense, since our faith is never perfect.  But there are steps we can take to limit/dispel unbelief and build up our faith.

  • We can feed upon the word of God.  We already know from this passage in John that the words of God bring spiritual life to each individual.  When we feed on the word, it builds up our faith (Romans 10:17).  When faith is increased, unbelief is decreased.
  • We can meditate on past battles in which faith gave us the victory.  Think back in your life, and find an instance when God healed you, or provided for you, or otherwise answered a prayer which seemed impossible.  As you remember and meditate on how God moved mightily on your behalf, your faith will increase (Joshua 4:4-8).  When faith is increased, unbelief is decreased.
  • Listen to testimonies of others who have been delivered.  The scriptures tell us that God is impartial; what he has done for one of his children he will do for another (Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11).  When you hear a testimony of someone who has been healed of cancer, let that fact build up your own faith, then ask the Lord to heal you too!  When faith is increased, unbelief is decreased.
  • Run to the Lord in prayer and ask for help, just like the man in Mark 9 did!  We can be sure that God will never turn aside anyone who calls out to him for deliverance.  He will help you get rid of that unbelief!   

John 6:65-66 – And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.

What does Jesus mean when he says no one can come to the Father except it has been granted or given to them by the Father? 

The words of Christ are not like ordinary words.  The scripture/gospel is inseparably intertwined or joined together with Holy Spirit.  It is the unseen power of the Spirit which imparts life into the words.  Thus, the gospel becomes both Spirit and life to those who will receive it (verse 63). 

God gives or grants people the opportunity to come to Christ when they hear the living gospel message.  God then allows each individual to make a choice to accept or reject Christ. 

This statement is consistent with other teachings of Jesus.  In the parable of the sower (Mark chapter 4), we are told that the farmer sowed the exact same seed at various locations in his field, with different results. 

In each case, the seed was viable – it was capable of sprouting and bringing forth a 100 fold crop.  It was the condition of the soil that determined the amount of harvest (the wayside, the stony ground, the soil choked with weeds or the good ground).

Spiritually speaking, the word of God is always 100% viable, because it is intertwined with life from Holy Spirit.  It is always capable of resulting in salvation in the life of every person who hears it.  When someone hears the word and does not come to Christ, it is not because God did not draw him.  It is because they control the conditions of their hearts, and they have chosen to harden their hearts, or to allow the cares of this world to choke out the word, or (like many of the disciples of Jesus in Capernaum), they have no spiritual roots so they fall away when persecution comes or when they find the doctrines of Christ offensive. 

John 6:67 – So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”

Clearly, the apostles had been with Jesus long enough to be considered a separate group at this point; John refers to them as ‘the twelve’ without any further explanation. 

At the conclusion of this incredible sermon, many are choosing to reject the gospel.  Jesus uses this situation as a test for the twelve.  They have a choice, just like the crowd.  So Jesus calls them out.  Will they also choose to leave him?

It should be noted that Jesus knew what was in the hearts of the disciples, just as he knew what was in the hearts of the crowd.  When Jesus calls them out, he does it for their benefit (not to gain knowledge of their intentions).  When they openly avow to continue following Christ, it further strengthens their faith and commitment to him.  Thus, this ‘trial’ was beneficial to the twelve.

John 6:68 – Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life…”

As we frequently find in the gospels, Peter is the natural leader and spokesman of the twelve.  He characteristically makes a very fervent and ardent declaration to Jesus – leaving him is not an option; for there is no other place to go. 

In other words, the twelve (or the eleven) are firmly convinced that Jesus is the Messiah.  They know that the scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees and other religious leaders are corrupt and unable to lead the Jews into eternal life.  Even though the doctrines of Jesus are difficult to understand and sometimes shocking, they are the only means of salvation.    

John 6:69 – “… and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

At this point, there was no possible way that Peter (or any of the twelve) understood the whole plan of salvation.  However, we find that they have put their faith in Christ and they have submitted themselves to him in all things.  For them, there is no turning back. 

The fear/respect of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalms 111:10); as they place their faith in Christ and adhere to his words they grow in both knowledge and understanding of spiritual things. 

The same is true for us.  There are principles/promises/doctrines in scripture that we may not fully understand, but as we commit ourselves to the Lord and his word, he will teach us by his Spirit (John 14:26).  Anyone who earnestly seeks knowledge from God will get an answer. 

John 6:70-71 –Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve?  And yet one of you is a devil.”He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.

Jesus declares that one of the twelve is a devil, but at the time, he did not say which one.  Indeed, it does not appear that the disciples even suspected Judas of betrayal.  They continue to treat him as a brother and they continue to allow him to be the treasurer of the group.  When they are at the last supper and Jesus says someone is going to betray him, the eleven are looking around asking Jesus ‘Is it I?’  This is further evidence that they did not know at this time that Judas was the betrayer.

This brings up a question that many of us have pondered from time to time:  Why did Jesus allow Judas into his inner circle? Why make him an apostle?

One reason is that Judas was actually and important witness for Christ.  He was with Jesus day in and day out for three years.  If Jesus had been anything different in private than he was in public (a hypocrite), Judas would have known it and reported it to the religious leaders, who would have paid good money for any reason to condemn Jesus.

Another reason is that the betrayal of Jesus was actually a fulfillment of prophesy. If Judas had not betrayed him, some prophesies would have remained unfulfilled.

It also shows that Jesus had true knowledge of the human heart; he could discern the character of Judas long before it was fully developed.   

Let me offer you some encouragement:

Like the father in Mark chapter 9, we too have a mixture of belief/faith and unbelief/doubt in our lives.  But there is hope for us – there are things we can do to increase faith and banish unbelief (see above). 

Let me encourage you with this thought:  Jesus says that even faith as small as a mustard seed can move a mountain (Matthew 17:20).  So don’t be intimidated by the enemy.  Stand your ground in Christ!  Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

Let me offer you some relief:

Jesus calls upon us to spread the good news of the gospel to a lost and dying world.  However, we need to keep in mind that only Holy Spirit can quicken that word in the heart of the hearer and bring them to salvation. 

For this reason, we should not be discouraged if everyone we speak to does not accept the message.  It is not our job to convict them of sin; it is simply our job to be sensitive to the leading of Holy Spirit, speaking as he directs us.  The outcome of that exchange is out of our control. 

Let me offer you some strength:

Some of the early followers of Jesus abandoned their faith because the doctrine of Christ was offensive to them.  It was not compatible with their own views, or the prevailing culture of that day. 

Even today, many of the doctrines of scripture are offensive to the people in our culture.  For this reason, you might be tempted to back down or compromise the doctrines of scripture.  But let me encourage you to stay strong in your beliefs!  Keep your light shining brightly for Christ.  Share the gospel at every opportunity.  Soon Jesus will return, the whole earth will see the truth, and you will be vindicated for your belief in Jesus!  

John, Chapter 6, Part 4

John 6:41 – So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”

Jesus is in the midst of teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.  He is teaching the crowd that he is the ‘bread of life’ or the ‘bread from heaven’.

The main truth he is trying to impart to them is this: Just as earthly life depends upon earthly food, spiritual life depends on spiritual food.  The Messiah has come to provide spiritual food by fulfilling/completing the ceremonial law and replacing it with the gospel.  Through the plan set forth in the gospel message, the Messiah will become the spiritual bread which sustains eternal life.

Since Jesus is the true bread from heaven (as opposed to manna as they mistakenly believed), the Jews can be assured that Jesus has a divine commission from God the Father to bring them the gospel message.

But unlike the woman at the well, this group of Jews is rejecting the clear evidence that Jesus presents to them.  Jesus gives them a picture of the Messiah that is vastly different from what they had been expecting, and they don’t want to accept it. 

That particular generation of Jews was not going to receive earthly blessings from the Messiah.  In reality, they were going to receive something far, far greater – spiritual blessings/benefits.  But again, because that was not what they were expecting, they were offended by the doctrine of Jesus.  They rejected what he longed to impart to them; they chose spiritual blindness.  

As we closed our post last week, I encouraged you to examine your own life.  When the next great move of God occurs (and it WILL happen), are you and I prepared to accept the new way in which God chooses to move?  Or will we become AWOL from God’s army because he isn’t moving the way we expect?  Are we prepared to change the way we worship, preach, and witness?  Are we prepared to accept new music in our churches, or conduct our services in different ways?  These are possibilities that we must be prepared for, or we run the risk of falling into the same trap as these ancient Jews.

John 6:42 – They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?  How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

The response of the crowd shows how carnally minded most of them were.  They were completely focused on what was happening in the physical realm as evidenced by their reference to the birth and family of Jesus.

Capernaum was not far from Nazareth, the place where Jesus grew up with his mother Mary and his reputed father, Joseph.  There can be no doubt that the details surrounding his unusual birth had been published far and wide; this news had certainly reached the citizens of Capernaum. 

After all, it was absolutely scandalous for a woman to be pregnant before marriage at that time.  And to add to the juicy story, she claimed the child’s conception was miraculous/divine.  Human nature being what it is, this birth was on the lips of every Jewish person on the planet, and probably some of the Gentiles as well!  

Joseph himself supported this claim.  He testified that an angel appeared to him, confirming that Mary’s baby was the result of the work of Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20).  

Based on their carnal point of view, the crowd’s opinion of Jesus goes something like this:

Joseph is the father of Jesus, and he is nothing but a humble laborer.  The family of Jesus is not rich or politically influential like that of King David.  Therefore, Jesus can’t be the descendent of David who will eventually sit on the throne of Israel.  Jesus has no military training and no army.  Therefore, he can’t be the conquering Messiah who is to reign a thousand years.  Yes, he did feed five thousand men (plus women and children) in a single meal, but that was nothing compared to the manna our ancestors ate for 40 years.   

Once the Jews adopted a carnal view of the facts surrounding Jesus, it was easy to reject his claim as the one ‘coming down from heaven’ (Messiah).  This was the view that the majority of the Jews held.  And without the intervention of God (see verse 45), the Jews would have remained in spiritual darkness.    

John 6:43-44 – Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves.  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.  And I will raise him up on the last day.”

Carnally minded men simply cannot understand the gospel.  Paul made this point abundantly clear to the church in Corinth:

1 Corinthians 2:14 – But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

If this is true, then how can men accept the gospel and be saved? 

Just as God sent Jesus into the world to bring the truth, he sends Holy Spirit to reveal or teach that truth mankind.      

Holy Spirit interacts with the unbeliever, enlightening their understanding of spiritual things.  He causes them to become aware of their own sin, resulting in a need for repentance.  He imparts divine revelation to the sinner concerning Jesus and his atoning work.  Holy Spirit prepares people to believe/trust in Jesus as Redeemer. 

Then, if they will allow it, Holy Spirit will perform a divine work in their hearts enabling them to receive these newly revealed truths.  In turn, this produces faith in the life of the sinner.  Using that faith, the sinner comes to Christ and is made into a new creation.  Old things are passed away, and all things are become new.    

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Those who have been ‘taught’ or enlightened by Holy Spirit are able to take a spiritual point of view, and their opinion of Jesus goes something like this:    

The unusual circumstances of the birth of Jesus point to a divine conception, making God his Father (not Joseph).  Jesus already said he came to grant us entrance into the kingdom of heaven; a kingdom that was spiritual and not earthly.  In this new kingdom, earthly riches, power and authority are inconsequential.  All those who believe in the doctrine of Christ are given ‘bread from heaven’ which results in everlasting life in the world to come.

For the Jews who adopted a spiritual view of the facts surrounding Jesus, it was easy to accept his claim as the one ‘coming down from heaven’ (Messiah). 

It then follows that all who accept Christ have eaten the bread from heaven which results in eternal life.  That person can rest assured that when time ends, regardless of what happened to them here on earth, their body will be raised to life once again and changed in the twinkling of an eye to an immortal body (I Corinthians 15:51-53). 

John 6:45 – “It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’  Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me,…”

The concept of God teaching people to embrace the Messiah and his work occurs in many places throughout the scriptures (Micah 4:1-4, Jeremiah 31:34), but Jesus was probably referencing the book of Isaiah here, as he specifically mentions the book of the prophets (Isaiah 54:13).

Those who are taught by God in the person of Holy Spirit receive ears to hear, eyes to see and a heart to understand the gospel message.  It is then up to them what they will do with that information.  They can choose to accept it and be changed, or they can reject it and remain in sin.

John 6:46 – “…not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.”

Jesus seems to add this last phrase to avoid any misunderstanding among the people.

In any ordinary earthly setting, students/pupils will see and hear their teacher.  But in this case, people do not have to physically see God or naturally hear his voice in order to be taught by him, as they do with natural teachers.  God teaches through his word by his Spirit. 

On the other hand, Jesus has seen Father God, because he was one with God and he came from heaven.  He is the only begotten Son (John 1:18), the express image of his Father (Hebrews 1:3).  The Jews have NOT seen God at any time, but they can still be taught/instructed by God through the work of Holy Spirit.

John 6:47 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.”

In order to receive eternal life, one must believe in Jesus as the Messiah; there is no other source.  In his teaching, Jesus has presented us with the steps that occur when someone arrives at eternal life:

  • They are drawn by Father God.
  • They hear his instruction/word.
  • They accept the redemption offered to them.
  • They are given to Christ, so they can be justified by faith.
  • They are nourished by the bread of life.
  • They continue in faith until their earthly race is over.
  • They are raised up at the last day.
  • They partake of eternal life.

Of course, we want to point out the essential role of Holy Spirit in this process.  He brings conviction upon the sinner as they hear the word, making it come alive in their hearts.  It is also Holy Spirit who continues to sanctify the believer throughout their earthly journey.

The promise of Jesus in this verse should produce a flood of joy and hope in our lives.  Regardless of the trials and difficulties we now face, we are assured of eternal life. 

In that life the believer is free from sorrow/tears, disease, fear, poverty, etc.  In short, sin and its effects are permanently removed from us as we enjoy eternity with God. 

John 6:48 – “I am the bread of life.”

Here we have the final revelation of a spiritual principle/lesson that began the day before with the miracle of the loaves and fish. 

The miracle prompted people to seek Jesus, because they desired him to continue feeding them physical food, like the manna their ancestors ate.  But at that point, Jesus begins to compare the loaves/manna to spiritual food or the bread of life. 

Manna came down from heaven (the atmosphere) from God.  It was freely given by Father God to the people; they did nothing to earn or deserve it.  Furthermore, it was equally made available to anyone who took the time to collect it – rich, poor, old, young, etc.   When it first appeared, no one understood what it actually was; it was unknown.  But once discovered it provided physical life and health to all who partook of it.

Obviously, this mirrors what is happening in the spiritual realm.

Jesus came down from heaven (the dwelling place of God).  He was freely given by Father God to the human race; we did nothing to earn or deserve this gift of grace.  The atoning sacrifice of Christ is equally available to all people – rich, poor, old, young, Jew, Gentile, etc.  When Jesus first appeared, no one understood who or what he actually was; he was unknown.  But once he was revealed as Messiah, he provided spiritual/eternal life to all who partook of his atoning sacrifice. 

Jesus has now explained the simple yet profound principle of the gospel to the Jews.  He is the ‘bread of life’ or the bread which came down from heaven, bringing life to the world (John 6:33).  Jesus has now done exactly what the Jews requested – he has given them access to the bread of life (John 6:34).

John 6:49-50 – “Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and they died.  This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.”

The physical bread which these Jews were seeking would never result in eternal life physically or spiritually.  If it could, their ancestors would still be alive. 

Those who ate the manna were receiving food into their stomachs (physical body) for the sustenance of earthly life.  Those who receive Jesus into their hearts (spiritual body) are sustaining their eternal, spiritual life.

Have you ever noticed that Jesus often draws attention to a physical truth which mirrors a spiritual principle?  In this case, it was the manna that reflected Jesus as the bread of life.  Other examples include marriage, sowing and reaping, etc.  This is an excellent way of showing spiritual principles to your kids and other Christians who might be new in the faith. 

Let me offer you some encouragement:

What is the only thing better than a good meal?  Answer:  Sharing that meal with someone you know and love.  The same thing is true spiritually.  Once you have tasted the goodness of God, you will want to share it with all those you know and love.

So don’t wait.  Reach out to those you know and love and offer them the gospel message just as you would offer bread to a starving man.  It will be the best meal they ever have!

Let me offer you some relief:

Often times we put a tremendous burden upon ourselves because we feel it is our responsibility to ‘save’ our loved ones.  Let me offer you some relief – this is not true.  We do not have the power to save anyone!  Our responsibility is to share the truth of the gospel in love.  Only Holy Spirit can take the truth of the gospel and produce faith in the life of a sinner.

Let me offer you some strength:

If I had to guess, I would say that all of us eat food every single day.  When it gets close to meal time, my stomach doesn’t hesitate to let me know it wants to be fed!

In the same way, it is essential that we feed our spirits; if we are spiritually empty, we can’t minister to those around us.  So feast on the word today.  Only then will you have the ability to strengthen others.   

   

John, Chapter 6, Part 3

John 6:30 –So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you?  What work do you perform?”

The crowd who ate the loaves and fish followed Jesus across the sea/lake to Capernaum.  They caught up with him at the temple, where he was teaching. 

At that time, Jesus told them to seek food that endures to eternal life.  This spiritual food was available from the Son of Man, who has been ‘sealed’ or commissioned by Father God to be the bread of life and provide eternal life to all who believe in him. 

The people respond by asking for a sign or miracle which proves Jesus is the Messiah and that has been ordained by Father God.

How do we explain this strange request in light of the recent miracle of the loaves and fish? 

The answer lies in the fact that this new request is being made in the temple setting.  The crowd no longer consists of just those from across the sea who at the loaves and fish.   It also includes other Jews from Capernaum as well as the temple rulers.

As for the crowed that ate the loaves/fish and acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah, they were thinking of Jesus in terms of our present physical life.  They expected the Messiah to be a leader who would overthrow Rome, restore Israel and provide them with a happy and comfortable existence here on earth.  This was the Messiah they were willing to accept and support.

But Jesus rebuffs their attempt to make him an earthly Messiah and subsequently informs them that his kingdom is not physical, it is spiritual.    

Just as earthly life depends upon earthly food, spiritual life depends on spiritual food.  The Messiah has come to provide spiritual food by fulfilling/completing the ceremonial law and replacing it with the gospel.  Through the plan set forth in the gospel message, the Messiah will become the spiritual bread which sustains eternal life.

This plan was a serious issue for the religious leaders of the day.  So the request for a sign most likely came from the rulers of the temple.  Despite the miracle of the loaves/fish (which they were no doubt aware of), they were demanding further proof/confirmation that Jesus was the true Messiah, because only Messiah had the authority to set aside the law and establish new religious doctrine. 

The conversation that takes place in the next few verses may well have occurred between Jesus and the religious leaders, with the crowd watching.

John 6:31 – “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Not only do they ask for a sign of confirmation, they disparage the miracle of the loaves and fish by comparing it to the manna given to their forefathers.  Their basis is found in the book of Psalms:

Psalm 105:40 – The people asked, and he brought quail, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.    

In essence this is what they are saying:  The law came through Moses, and his message was confirmed by God who gave manna or ‘bread from heaven’ to millions of Jews, every day, throughout their wilderness journey of 40 years. 

This is a greater miracle than Jesus feeding a single meal to a crowd of five thousand men plus women and children.  If Jesus is the Messiah, and he wants us to believe his message, it must be confirmed with a greater sign than the miracle of the loaves and fish.

John 6:32-33 –Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

Again, the Jews are focused on the physical bread of this life (manna) and again Jesus patiently redirects their focus to the spiritual realm.

The true ‘bread from heaven’ is not manna.  Manna is simply another form of physical food which God provided for Israel to sustain their physical lives as they wandered in the wilderness.  It had no spiritual power; it could never preserve the soul from death.

Furthermore, manna did not come from ‘heaven’ as in the third heaven and throne room of God (II Corinthians 12:2-4).  Manna came from ‘heaven’ as in the first heaven, meaning the air and clouds of Earth’s atmosphere.

The true ‘bread from heaven’ is spiritual food which results in eternal life; it saves the soul from eternal death.  God provided this true bread through his Son Jesus, who came down to earth from the third heaven.  God gives the bread of heaven to the entire world – not only Jews, but Gentiles as well.

The phrase ‘bread of heaven’ is full of deep meaning: 

  • Since Jesus is the ‘bread from heaven’, the Jews can be assured that he is divine, because heaven is the dwelling place of God. 
  • Since Jesus is the ‘bread from heaven’ the Jews can be assured that Jesus has been with God from the beginning (John 1:1) and that he was present and assisted in the creation of the world (John 1:3). 
  • Since Jesus is the ‘bread from heaven’, the Jews can be assured that he possess all power, because heaven is the seat of all power and authority.
  • Since Jesus is the ‘bread from heaven’ the Jews can be assured that Jesus has a divine commission from the Father to bring them the gospel message.  

These Jews are either ignorant or stubborn when they esteem Moses greater than Jesus.  Moses was simply a servant of God, while Christ is the Son (Hebrews 3:5-6).

John 6:34-35 – They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”  Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

Does this request seem at all familiar to you?  The phrase ‘give us this bread’ is very similar to the words of the woman at the well, who said, ‘give me this water’ (John 4:15).  This indicates that, like the woman at the well, these Jews are beginning to receive spiritual understanding. 

They are starting to realize that manna was not the true bread of heaven as they previously believed.  They begin to consider the possibility that God has sent them a better kind of bread. 

In the remainder of this exchange Jesus proceeds to reveal himself to the crowd and show that the blessings they hoped to receive were contained within himself and therefore they could only be obtained by belief in him.  

In fact, the person who receives Christ and believes in him as the atoning sacrifice for sin will be perfectly satisfied spiritually.  He will be free from the misery, guilt and burden of sin.  His soul will be purified and reunited with God.  He will enter into true rest and joy with God.  He also finds solace, strength and victory in this life.

Sadly, this is where the similarities between this crowd and the woman at the well end.  While the woman believed in Jesus and was satisfied, this crowd rejected Christ and went away spiritually unsatisfied/dead.

John 6:36 – “But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.”

Jesus now goes on to chastise these Jews.  He notes that they have ‘seen me’.  Of course, Jesus is not talking about physically seeing him in the flesh, he is speaking in spiritual terms.  He is saying that the crowd saw or perceived that he was the Messiah.  They were witness to his power.  They saw that Father God had confirmed his ministry with miracles.

It is not a lack of evidence that causes them to reject Christ and his gospel.  They have chosen to be spiritually blind.  But despite their rejection, the work of Jesus will not be in vain.

John 6:37 – “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”  

Although some people will reject him, Jesus has been guaranteed by the Father that his labor will not be in vain.

Isaiah 53:11 – He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Jesus promises that all who come to him will be accepted and cleansed by him.  Notice how boundless and wonderful the mercy of God is – NOTHING you have done is so bad that it cannot be forgiven! 

To ‘come to him’ simply means to believe on him.  To believe implies that we recognize our need/sin, we have confidence Jesus can help us and we are ready to trust and submit to him. 

But just as in the case of this crowd, Jesus never forces anyone to accept him.  The Spirit of God touches us offering to do a work of faith and repentance in our lives, but it is still our choice.  All who accept are saved.  Those who prefer the path leading to death are free to travel that road, although God will constantly reach out to save them.   

The phrase ‘cast out’ literally means ‘thrust out of doors’.  The reference is of a person in deep poverty and distress who, in desperation, knocks on the door of a nobleman’s house in order to get relief.  Rather than being cast out, he is welcomed into the house.

In the same way, Jesus assures us that when we knock on his door seeking relief, he will not shut the door in our face; he will kindly and lovingly welcome us into his kingdom no matter how sinful and vile we may be.  In fact, he not only forgives our sin, he welcomes us as brothers and sisters and makes us children of his Father.  

John 6:38 – “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

This is a confirmation of the preceding statement, that we do not seek Christ in vain.

Jesus assures us that he came to earth to do his Father’s business.  He came as an agent of God or what we might call an ambassador.  He came from the kingdom of heaven to settle the affairs between the great Creator and all of creation.  The scope and purpose of his whole earthly life was to glorify God and to do good to men.

Therefore he never considered his own ease, safety or comfort.  When the time came for him to lay down his life, he did so willingly.

John 10:17-18 – Therefore does my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.  No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

Of course, we know that the Godhead is in perfect unity at all times.  The will of Jesus was identical to that of the Father; he too desired for men to be redeemed. 

John 6:39 – “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”

In other words, Jesus is not there to just introduce us to salvation, he is with us every minute of every day until we finish our earthly course.  He guards our salvation until the final day – the Day of Judgment.

This is the will/desire/intention of God and as such, we can be sure that it will be done because Jesus is faithful and he has been given all power in heaven and on earth to accomplish his Father’s will.

The last day is also known as the Day of Judgment.  On this day, all of the dead will be raised.  Their bodies will be changed and reunited with their spirits.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 – Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

This is the comfort and hope of every Christian – someday Jesus will defeat the final enemy – Death (I Corinthians 15:54).  Our sinful flesh will be transformed and we will live with the Lord forever!

John 6:40 – “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Salvation consists of two parts.  There is the gift of God, which was Jesus the Son, our redeemer.  This is a free gift which God offers to every single person, because it is his will that none perish, but all come to a saving knowledge of the Lord.  However, he will not force his will on us.

This brings us to the second part of salvation, acceptance of this free gift by each individual.  In order to accept salvation, we must recognize our sin, and place our faith in his atoning work.  This assures us of eternal life.  At that point, Holy Spirit will come to dwell in our hearts and begin the life long process of sanctification.    

Let me offer you some encouragement, relief and strength:

We see over and over again in the New Testament that the Jewish leaders chose spiritual blindness.  They were unable to accept the fact that God was doing something new in their midst.  As a result, they missed out on the amazing things God wanted to do in them, through them and for them.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss out on any of the blessings of God. 

So I encourage you today to look at your own life, or ‘wine skin’ (Mark 2:22, Luke 5:37-38).  God has promised an epic, world-wide, end time harvest of souls.  But we can be sure it won’t occur as it has in the past, because God never repeats himself.  He is always doing something new.

Isaiah 43:18-19 – Remember not the former things, neither consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.  

Let’s be honest – the lost of this generation are different from generations past.  Basic beliefs in Christian values no longer exist.  If we want the fires of revival to ignite and burn, we must be willing to follow where Holy Spirit leads us, how he leads us and when he leads us. 

The good news is that if we are willing (if we do NOT choose spiritual blindness), Holy Spirit will lead us into victories that we can’t even conceive of right now.  As long as we follow his leading, we don’t need to worry about failing because he will make sure we are victorious.  We don’t need to worry about having enough strength/endurance for the task, because he will be our strength.  With him, we cannot fail.

Here are some things to consider this week: Are you ready and willing to accept a new and different move of God in your life and ministry?  Are you ready to leave your current spiritual comfort zone?  Are you in a position to hear Holy Spirit speaking to you and to act on his instructions?  Are you willing to seek Holy Spirit involvement/gifts in your life?

John, Chapter 6, Part 2

John 6:16-17 – When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum.  It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.

Immediately after the feeding of the five thousand, a serious problem occurred.  No sooner were the 12 baskets of scraps gathered up, when the people wanted to make Jesus a king.  That may not sound so bad, but remember, Herod had just put John the Baptist to death; any hint of insurrection would have produced a similar fate for Jesus.  It was not God’s will for Jesus to be made king, but it wasn’t his will for Jesus to be beheaded before the crucifixion either. 

This was a tense situation.  All of us are well aware that crowds can be uncontrollable and wild.  People can and will do things in/with a crowd which they would never do on an individual basis.  And once a crowd has decided upon a course of action, it is incredibly difficult to reason with them.  The apostle Paul tried to reason with crowds on several occasions, with mixed results (Acts 14:8-20, Acts 21:18-22:22).          

In this case, Jesus instructed the twelve to get into the boat and leave, while he dealt with the multitude.  Due to the intense situation, the disciples probably didn’t want to leave Jesus alone; they must have waited for him as long as they could. 

But eventually it became dark and they started off.  The weather, we assume, was fine at that time.  (If a storm had been brewing, it would have provided the disciples with a good excuse to remain on the shore even longer.)

Our translation says they ‘started across the sea’ to Capernaum.  The King James 2000 Version and the American Standard Version say they ‘went over the sea’ towards Capernaum.  The NIV says they ‘set off across the lake’.

The point is, that when we read the phrase ‘across the sea’, we assume that the disciples were trying to traverse the sea/lake from the western shore (which was where the miracle took place), to the eastern shore.  But this was not the case. 

The coastal cities of Capernaum, Bethsaida and Tiberius were all on the same side of the sea/lake – the western shore.  However, the terrain is very difficult in that area.  It would have been much faster and easier to sail from one city to the other, rather than trying to cover the distance on land.  This would explain why they sailed there instead of walking.  

John tells us that the disciples were headed for Capernaum.  Since he was on the boat, he would know.  However, he might be summarizing what actually happened. 

In the gospel of Mark, we find Jesus instructing the twelve to go to Bethsaida:

Mark 6:45 – And immediately he made his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people.

Although the ultimate goal was to return to Capernaum, Jesus may have wanted them to take the boat to Bethsaida, where he would eventually catch up with them and they would all sail to Capernaum together (Mark 6:45).  

It is also possible that the disciples did indeed set out for Bethsaida, but due to the storm, they had no choice but to make for Capernaum.  In either case, what the disciples thought would be a routine trip was turning out to be something else entirely.      

Meanwhile, Jesus is dealing with the crowd.  After squelching their plans to make him king and sending them all home for the night, he quietly slipped away.  Going back up the mountain, he found a place of solitude and entered into a season of prayer with the Father (Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46). 

Why would Jesus choose that particular time for extended prayer?  Could it be that the actions of the crowd represented a very real temptation for Jesus?  Here was a group of people who not only offered but almost forced human honor upon him. 

But Jesus did not give into the temptation of pride or vain glory.  He stuck to the plan God had outlined – he would indeed be glorified as King of Kings, after bearing the burden of sin and suffering death on the cross (I Timothy 6:14-16, Revelation 17:14).   

Scriptures show that Jesus had private devotions with his Father all throughout his earthly ministry.  Shutting himself away with God allowed him to resist pride and other temptations.  It kept him on his course.  That being the case, can we do any less?  If we do not spend time in communion and prayer with God, how can we overcome temptation?  How can we know and accomplish the will of God without being full of Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6)?       

John 6:18 – The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing.

Rowing a boat on this lake must have seemed like an easy task for these men, as several of them were former fishermen.  No doubt, they had been on this very body of water many times before.  But what they thought was a routine assignment quickly turned into something else entirely.

The disciples are able to row about 3-4 miles before a storm blows in.  It is dark/late at night, they are tired and now a storm threatens to engulf them. 

One of two things must be true:  Either the wind was so strong they couldn’t get the boat to shore, or they purposely kept the boat well away from the shore, fearful that the boat would be destroyed on rocks.  Either way, they certainly seem to be in a state of fear and panic.     

Now, ask yourself this question:  Were the disciples in the middle of a storm during the dead of night because of their own decision/choice?  No!  They were crossing the lake as the result of a direct command of Jesus.  This means they were smack dab in the middle of God’s will, yet they were in the midst of a storm. 

Let’s look at this situation from a spiritual perspective.  Spiritually speaking, we use the word ‘storm’ as a euphemism for trials or tribulations.  This means you can be sailing along in life, doing the will of God as you were instructed, and you can run right into a trial!  In fact, it is almost a guarantee.     

Here’s another question:  Could Jesus have kept them from being out on the lake during the storm?  Yes!  He certainly knew the storm was coming.  He could have told them to wait for him on shore, or he could have taken them with him to the place of prayer.  But instead, Jesus allows them to encounter this storm.  He allows their way to be dark, so they cannot clearly see the path forward.

Spiritually speaking, I bet that most of us consider trials/tests/tribulations as negative occurrences and we seek to avoid them at all costs.  But this is not the viewpoint of God.  Trials are one of the many methods he uses to help us grow and mature in our faith.

1 Peter 4:12-13 – Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to test you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:  But rejoice, since you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.  

As we saw in our last post, Jesus tested Philip by asking him how he was going to feed the multitude.  Holy Spirit will often allow us to encounter a storm/test/trial in order to reveal what is deep within our hearts (Deuteronomy 8:2).  If it is something that needs to be circumcised from our heart/life Holy Spirit is there to assist.

The storms/trials of life also help us to increase our faith.  Think of it this way: faith is a lot like a muscle – the more you use it, the bigger, stronger and more defined it becomes.  Since trials force you to use your faith, they build up your faith and your spiritual endurance.  They prepare you for new levels of ministry and responsibility in the kingdom of God.  They are actually good for you!

Here is something to consider:  Your trial will always result in a testimony.  If you pass through the storm with a steady confidence in God not only will your faith grow, but it will build up the faith of others.  It will forge a bond between you and others who experience a similar storm (I Thessalonians 3:2-4).

For example, if your doctor diagnosed you with cancer, that would be a storm of hurricane proportions!  But if there was someone else in your church that had already had cancer and passed through that trial, wouldn’t their experience be a comfort to you?  Wouldn’t you like that person to pray for you and encourage you?  Don’t you feel you could bring your questions and concerns to them, since they had first-hand experience with cancer?  If you handle your trial correctly, it not only matures you, it will be a big help to your brothers and sisters in Christ.   

Of course, the converse is also true.  If you fail in your trial by whining, complaining and blaming God for your situation, that also creates a testimony – a negative one that glorifies Satan while discouraging the family of God. 

What kind of testimony will you have after your next storm?       

One final point:  If we are honest, most of us will admit that we have a tendency to hide our trials from others in the body of Christ.  We don’t want other people to know that we have problems.  Perhaps we feel they will judge us or reject us.  Perhaps we don’t want to seem weak or ‘unspiritual’.  But as we noted, it is important that we share the trials we face, so we can bear one another’s burdens and help each other in our walk of faith.  

John 6:19 – When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened.

Why would the disciples be afraid when they saw Jesus?  Don’t you think they would have been relieved?  According to Matthew (14:26) and Mark (6:49), the reason they were afraid is they thought Jesus was a ghost!  They imagined a dark demonic spirit coming to get them!

In their defense, it was dark so Jesus probably looked like a black shape moving across the water.  The last thing they expected was that shape to be a person, so they assumed it was a demon spirit.  No doubt, we would have jumped to the same conclusion, because in our experience people just don’t walk on water!

Spiritually speaking, we often imagine our trials to be much worse than what they really are.  Our initial fear and dread tend to make that mole hill appear as a mountain.  But remember, Jesus tells us that our faith can move that mountain and cast it into the sea (Mark 11:22-24).   If God has allowed that storm into our lives, we can be sure that his divine purpose is going to be accomplished in us; the storm will result in our good and his glory, even if we find it painful. 

As if the multiplication of the fish and loaves were not enough, the disciples get yet another astonishing glimpse of the divinity of Christ as he walks on the water – he is sovereign over nature.  Did you know that the scriptures speak about God walking on water?

Job 9:8 – Who [God] alone spreads out the heavens, and treads upon the waves of the sea.

If God alone can tread or walk upon the waves of the sea, and Jesus is doing that very thing, the only logical conclusion is that Jesus is God!

What is the spiritual significance of this?  When your storm or trial looks the bleakest, take your eyes off the waves and look for Jesus!  You will find him there, walking on the water with you, showing you that he is sovereign over your situation.  He never appears early or late; he reveals himself at the perfect time and he brings peace with him.

John 6:20 – But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”

The disciples thought they were in a place/situation where Jesus couldn’t reach them – but they were wrong!  Jesus always, always comes to the comfort and aid of his people in every situation.   Here are just a few examples:

  • When Paul and Silas were in jail, God manifested himself in their praise and worship (Acts 16).
  • When John (the author of this gospel) was banished to the island of Patmos, God showed up and gave him the book we know as Revelation.
  • When Gideon hid in a winepress to thresh out some wheat, God was there with plans of deliverance (Judges 6). 

There is no place you can go where God cannot reach you:

Psalm 139:8-10 – If I ascend up into heaven, you are there: if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, you are there.   If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall your hand lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

Are you in the midst of a storm or trial right now?  You are not alone.  Jesus is right there with you, saying, “It is I; do not be afraid.”

John 6:21 – Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

At this point in time, the apostle Matthew informs us that Peter requested to leave the boat and join Jesus in walking on the water.  Afterwards, as Peter and Jesus get into the boat, the wind ceased (Matthew 14:26-32).

Boy, are the disciples glad to see Jesus!  They joyfully welcomed him into the boat.  They know that when he comes into the midst of their boat/situation, everything will turn out right.  Just being in his presence brings peace and courage to their hearts. 

Isaiah 43:2 – When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame scorch you.

John also tells us that once Jesus was in the boat, it immediately was at land. 

Question:  Does this indicate another miracle? Why or why not?

Not surprisingly, scholars disagree.  Those who feel it was another miracle, simply take John’s words at face value – after Jesus entered the boat, the wind died and the boat was miraculously transported to the dock at Capernaum.  It is certainly within the power of God to do such a thing.

But others disagree.  They note that God does not perform miracles in cases where man is capable of getting the job done.  For example, in Luke 22 we find that the time of Passover is at hand.  Jesus could have supernaturally had a meal prepared for that celebration; it was certainly within his power to do so.  But he doesn’t.  Instead, he instructs Peter and John to go and prepare the Passover (Luke 22:8), because it was well within their power to do so.  No miracle was needed.   

Now let’s examine the present case.  The word “immediately’ is better translated as ‘straight away’ or without further delay.  Whereas the boat was previously being tossed around during the storm and not making any progress towards the shore, it was now back under the control of the disciples.  The storm passed, the wind died down, and they piloted the boat to shore as they normally would on any other occasion.  No miracle was needed.

Regardless of which scholars you think are correct, we can all agree that difficulty and danger were transformed to peace and safety when Jesus was received into the situation. 

When you enter into a storm/trial (hint: if you’re not in one now, one is undoubtedly on the horizon), bring Jesus into your situation by praying, confessing your faith, using your spiritual authority, and/or speaking the promises of God.  If a miracle is needed, Jesus will provide one!  

John 6:22-23 – On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone.  Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.  

John now describes what occurred on the ‘other side of the sea’ or the location where the miracle of the loaves and fish took place.

The crowd that wanted to make Jesus king was aware that there had only been one boat on the shore when they spent the day with Jesus.  After dinner, as Jesus was sending his disciples over the sea to Bethsaida and/or Capernaum, they decided that Jesus was the Messiah and they attempted to make him king. 

However, Jesus refused this honor.  He sent the crowd home and retired higher up on the mountain to spend time in prayer.  This much we know to be fact.

Now for some conjecture.  What was the crowd thinking? 

Here is one explanation:  If Jesus sent his disciples away to another location in the only boat available, it must mean that he didn’t really want to leave them.  It must mean that he DOES want to be crowned king, but he is just being modest.  So the crowd resolves to return the next day, find Jesus, and once again attempt to make him king.  But when the next day dawns, he is nowhere to be found. 

Here is another explanation:  The crowd, being fully aware that Jesus is the Messiah, wants more interaction with him.  They want to see more miracles and get more free meals (kind of like dinner and a movie).  Since the only boat left the shore last night, Jesus must still be present on their side of the sea, so they go to find him.  But he is nowhere to be found.

Regardless of what the crowd was thinking, one thing is certain – Jesus has left the area; he is no longer at the location of the miracle.  The crowd is sure that Jesus is in the process of returning to Capernaum, probably on foot.     

John 6:24-25 – So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.  When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”

In the meantime, boats from Tiberius showed up at the place of the miracle.  These boats carried both goods and passengers, so the people bought tickets and sailed to Capernaum, looking for Jesus.

According to their calculations, they would be at Capernaum long before Jesus, since he must be walking and they took the boat.  But when they arrived, there he was!  They were so surprised they begin to question when and how he arrived.     

John 6:26 – Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.”

Jesus does not bother to answer their question.  Instead, he gets right to the heart of the matter – literally.  What is in the hearts of the multitude who came to Capernaum seeking Jesus?

Jesus reveals they are not seeking him because of the miracles, but because of the food.  But John has already stated that these people were excited about the miracles they saw; they were prompted to believe in Jesus as the Messiah because of them.  So what did Jesus mean?

The purpose of the miracles was to confirm the gospel message.  They were a sign from God that Jesus was the Messiah.  If these people would have truly embraced Jesus and his message, they would have repented.  They would have submitted themselves to his teaching.  They would have looked for entrance to the kingdom of heaven not only for themselves, but for others.  Their main focus would have been their spiritual lives.

But instead, we find their interest in miracles is superficial; they are only interested in the miracles as a confirmation that Jesus can give them a happy and comfortable existence in this life.  This is why they wanted to make him king.  In their hearts, they view Jesus as a genie who is there to grant their wishes and make their lives easy.  They have no interest in being made over into the image of Christ, spreading the gospel or sharing in his suffering.   

John 6:27 – “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.  For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

Obviously, Jesus is NOT telling us to quit our jobs and stop working.  We need to purchase groceries and other necessities of life.  Remember, God himself sanctioned labor when he made Adam and Eve the caretakers of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15).

Again, just to clarify, there is nothing wrong with working for food, education, etc.  In fact, we are instructed to do so (II Thessalonians 3:10-12).  However, all of these things are temporary.  They only last for the duration of our life before vanishing without a trace.  Even if you live to the ripe old age of 120, that is a very short amount of time compared to eternity!

In this verse, Jesus is saying that all the concerns of this life (food, clothing, shelter, education, entertainment, money, etc) should be secondary to the spiritual concerns of our soul.   

So the wise person also works for that which results in eternal life.  And make no mistake, once we have received the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, the true Christian life IS work.  We must deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Jesus.      

What does Jesus mean when he says God the Father has set his seal on Jesus? 

According to Webster’s dictionary, a seal is an engraved or inscribed stamp, used for making an impression in wax (or another soft substance) which is attached to a document and assures authentication.   So the seal confirms, ratifies or authenticates something.  It assures you that something is true.

For example, back in the day official letters, laws or legal documents were sealed with a king’s signet ring.  If a document had such a seal, you could be sure that whatever was on the document was authentic; it was approved by the king and it had his authority behind it.  

So in this case, Jesus is telling the Jews that his purpose or mission (to reveal the gospel, to be the bread of life; to provide eternal life for mankind) has been sealed/sanctioned/commissioned by God the Father.  His authority is behind it.  No one but Jesus could be prophet, priest and king to the lost and dying race of humans.  No one but Jesus has ever had the ability to give eternal life and forgiveness of sin.  No one but Jesus could reveal the Father and his divine will to mankind.

John 6:28-29 – Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”  Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe him whom he has sent.”

The multitude seems to understand that Jesus has exhorted them to aim or focus on something more than the comforts of this present earthly life. 

But at this point, we find a mistake in their understanding.  The Jews had long been strict observers of the ceremonial law.  They rested upon that law of works for their salvation.  So when they ask about doing the ‘works of God’, they are looking for more physical rites or ceremonies to perform.

But man can never be justified by works.  We are justified by faith:

Galatians 2:16 – Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.  

Believing in Jesus as the Messiah and placing our faith in him is the ‘work’ that is most pleasing to God.  It is also the foundation of all other Christian works. 

For example, we don’t go to heaven because we feed the poor.  We feed the poor because we have faith in Jesus and follow his commands.  Our entrance to heaven comes through Jesus; heavenly riches come from doing good works.

Let me offer you some encouragement:

Jesus shut himself away with God for times of personal prayer.  In that time, he found the strength and courage to align himself with the will of the Father.  He received wisdom and understanding from Holy Spirit on how to accomplish his earthly mission. 

So again we ask this question:  How can we do anything less?  Are you trying to minister in your own power, with your own wisdom?  How is that going for you? 

I encourage you to stop and assess your ministry right now.  If you are not 100% sure that you are being led by the Spirit of God, spend some time in personal prayer until you are sure you are on the right path.    

Let me offer you some relief:

Anytime we encounter a storm or trial in life, it results in a testimony – either negative or positive.  None of us are perfect; we may have embraced and published a negative testimony at some point. 

If that is the case, ask Jesus to forgive you (even if this is something that occurred long ago).  Go before his throne and renounce those negative words; ask Jesus to remove the curse of those words from your life.  Then move on in faith and do better the next time!  

Let me offer you some strength:

It is important that we understand the role of good works in the life of a Christian.  Our motivation is always to do the will of God, which often entails showing His love to those around us through good works. 

But sometimes we can get weary, especially when it seems like the needs are so vast we can’t meet them all.  In those times, just give that burden to the Lord and let him bear it. 

Psalms 18:32 – it is God that girds me with strength, and makes my way perfect.