Christ at the Feast of Tabernacles.
1, 2. After these things—that is, all
that is recorded after Joh 5:18.
walked in Galilee—continuing His
labors there, instead of going to Judea, as might have been
sought to kill him—referring back to
5:18. Hence it appears
that our Lord did not attend the Passover mentioned in Joh 6:4—being the third since His
ministry began, if the feast mentioned in Joh 5:1 was a Passover.
2. feast of tabernacles … at
hand—This was the last of the three annual festivals,
celebrated on the fifteenth of the seventh month (September). (See
Le 23:33, &c.; De 16:13, &c.; Ne
3-5. His brethren said—(See on Mt 13:54-56).
Depart … into Judea, &c.—In
Joh 7:5 this speech is ascribed to their
unbelief. But as they were in the "upper room" among the one
hundred and twenty disciples who waited for the descent of the Spirit
after the Lord's ascension (Ac 1:14),
they seem to have had their prejudices removed, perhaps after His
resurrection. Indeed here their language is more that of strong
prejudice and suspicion (such as near relatives, even the best, too
frequently show in such cases), than from unbelief. There was also,
probably, a tincture of vanity in it. "Thou hast many disciples
in Judea; here in Galilee they are fast dropping off; it is not like
one who advances the claims Thou dost to linger so long here, away from
the city of our solemnities, where surely 'the kingdom of our father
David' is to be set up: 'seeking,' as Thou dost, 'to be known openly,'
those miracles of Thine ought not to be confined to this distant
corner, but submitted at headquarters to the inspection of 'the
world.'" (See Ps 69:8, "I
am become a stranger to my brethren, an alien unto my
6-10. My time is not yet come—that is,
for showing Himself to the world.
your time is always ready—that is "It
matters little when we go up, for ye have no great plans in life, and
nothing hangs upon your movements. With Me it is otherwise; on every
movement of Mine there hangs what ye know not. The world has no quarrel
with you, for ye bear no testimony against it, and so draw down upon
yourselves none of its wrath; but I am here to lift up My voice against
its hypocrisy, and denounce its abominations; therefore it cannot
endure Me, and one false step might precipitate its fury on its
Victim's head before the time. Away, therefore, to the feast as soon as
it suits you; I follow at the fitting moment, but 'My time is not yet
10. then went he … not openly—not
"in the (caravan) company" [Meyer]. See
on Lu 2:44.
as it were in secret—rather, "in a
manner secretly"; perhaps by some other route, and in a way not to
11-13. Jews—the rulers.
sought him—for no good end.
Where is He?—He had not been at
Jerusalem for probably a year and a half.
12. much murmuring—buzzing.
among the people—the multitudes; the
natural expression of a Jewish writer, indicating without design the
crowded state of Jerusalem at this festival [Webster and Wilkinson].
a good man … Nay … deceiveth the
people—the two opposite views of His claims, that they were
honest, and that they were an imposture.
13. none spake openly of him—that is, in
His favor, "for fear of the [ruling] Jews."
14, 15. about the midst of the feast—the
fourth or fifth day of the eight, during which it lasted.
went up into the temple and taught—The
word denotes formal and continuous teaching, as
distinguished from mere casual sayings. This was probably the
first time that He did so thus openly in Jerusalem. He had kept
back till the feast was half through, to let the stir about Him
subside, and entering the city unexpectedly, had begun His "teaching"
at the temple, and created a certain awe, before the wrath of the
rulers had time to break it.
15. How knoweth … letters—learning
having never learned—at any rabbinical
school, as Paul under Gamaliel. These rulers knew well enough that He
had not studied under any human teacher—an important
admission against ancient and modern attempts to trace our Lord's
wisdom to human sources [Meyer].
Probably His teaching on this occasion was expository,
manifesting that unrivalled faculty and depth which in the Sermon on
the Mount had excited the astonishment of all.
16-18. doctrine … not mine,
&c.—that is, from Myself unauthorized; I am here by
17. If any man will do his will,
&c.—"is willing," or "wishes to do."
whether … of God, or … of
myself—from above or from beneath; is divine or an imposture
of Mine. A principle of immense importance, showing, on the one hand,
that singleness of desire to please God is the grand inlet to light
on all questions vitally affecting one's eternal interests, and on
the other, that the want of his, whether perceived or not, is
the chief cause of infidelity amidst the light of revealed
18. seeketh his own glory—(See on Joh 5:41-44).
19, 20. Did not Moses, &c.—that is,
In opposing Me ye pretend zeal for Moses, but to the spirit and end of
that law which he gave ye are total strangers, and in "going about to
kill Me" ye are its greatest enemies.
20. The people answered, Thou hast a devil: who
goeth about to kill thee?—This was said by the
multitude, who as yet had no bad feeling to Jesus, and were not in
the secret of the plot hatching, as our Lord knew, against Him.
21-24. I have done one work,
&c.—Taking no notice of the popular appeal, as there were
those there who knew well enough what He meant, He recalls His cure of
the impotent man, and the murderous rage it had kindled (Joh 5:9, 16,
18). It may seem strange that
He should refer to an event a year and a half old, as if but newly
done. But their present attempt "to kill Him" brought up the past scene
vividly, not only to Him, but without doubt to them, too, if indeed
they had ever forgotten it; and by this fearless reference to it,
exposing their hypocrisy and dark designs, He gave His position great
22. Moses … gave unto you circumcision,
&c.—Though servile work was forbidden on the sabbath, the
circumcision of males on that day (which certainly was a servile work)
was counted no infringement of the Law. How much less ought fault to be
found with One who had made a man "every whit whole"—or rather,
"a man's entire body whole"—on the sabbath-day? What a testimony
to the reality of the miracle, none daring to meet the bold appeal.
24. Judge not, &c.—that is, Rise
above the letter into the spirit of the law.
25-27. some of them of Jerusalem—the
citizens, who, knowing the long-formed purpose of the rulers to put
Jesus to death, wondered that they were now letting Him teach
26. Do the rulers know, &c.—Have
they got some new light in favor of His claims?
27. Howbeit we know this man,
&c.—This seems to refer to some current opinion that
Messiah's origin would be mysterious (not altogether wrong),
from which they concluded that Jesus could not be He, since they knew
all about His family at Nazareth.
28, 29. cried Jesus—in a louder tone,
and more solemn, witnessing style than usual.
Ye both, &c.—that is, "Yes, ye
know both Myself and My local parentage, and (yet) I am not come of
but he that sent me is true,
&c.—Probably the meaning is, "He that sent Me is the only
real Sender of any one."
30-32. sought to take … none laid
hands—their impotence being equal to their
31. When Christ cometh, will he,
&c.—that is, If this be not the Christ, what can the Christ
do, when He does come, which has not been anticipated and eclipsed by
this man? This was evidently the language of friendly persons,
overborne by their spiteful superiors, but unable to keep quite
32. heard that the people murmured—that
mutterings to this effect were going about, and thought it high time to
stop Him if He was not to be allowed to carry away the people.
33, 34. Yet a little while, &c.—that
is, "Your desire to be rid of Me will be for you all too soon
fulfilled. Yet a little while and we part company—for ever; for I
go whither ye cannot come: nor, even when ye at length seek Him whom ye
now despise, shall ye be able to find Him"—referring not to any
penitential, but to purely selfish cries in their time of
35, 36. Whither will he go, &c.—They
cannot comprehend Him, but seem awed by the solemn grandeur of His
warning. He takes no notice, however, of their questions.
37-39. the last day, that great day of the
feast—the eighth (Le 23:39).
It was a sabbath, the last feast day of the year, and distinguished by
very remarkable ceremonies. "The generally joyous character of this
feast broke out on this day into loud jubilation, particularly at the
solemn moment when the priest, as was done on every day of this
festival, brought forth, in golden vessels, water from the stream of
Siloah, which flowed under the temple-mountain, and solemnly poured it
upon the altar. Then the words of Isa 12:3 were sung, With joy shall ye draw
water out of the wells of Salvation, and thus the symbolical
reference of this act, intimated in Joh 7:39, was expressed" [Olshausen]. So ecstatic was the joy with which this
ceremony was performed—accompanied with sound of
trumpets—that it used to be said, "Whoever had not witnessed it
had never seen rejoicing at all" [Lightfoot].
Jesus stood—On this high occasion,
then, He who had already drawn all eyes upon Him by His supernatural
power and unrivalled teaching—"Jesus stood," probably in some elevated
and cried—as if making proclamation in
the audience of all the people.
If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and
drink!—What an offer! The deepest cravings of the human
spirit are here, as in the Old Testament, expressed by the figure of
"thirst," and the eternal satisfaction of them by
"drinking." To the woman of Samaria He had said almost the same
thing, and in the same terms (Joh 4:13, 14). But what to her was simply affirmed to
her as a fact, is here turned into a world-wide
proclamation; and whereas there, the gift by Him of the
living water is the most prominent idea—in contrast with her
hesitation to give Him the perishable water of Jacob's well—here,
the prominence is given to Himself as the Well spring of all
satisfaction. He had in Galilee invited all the WEARY AND HEAVY-LADEN of the human family to come
under His wing and they should find REST
11:28), which is just the
same deep want, and the same profound relief of it, under another and
equally grateful figure. He had in the synagogue of Capernaum (Joh 6:36) announced Himself, in every
variety of form, as "the Bread of Life,"
and as both able and authorized to appease the "HUNGER," and quench the "THIRST," of all that apply to Him. There is, and
there can be, nothing beyond that here. But what was on all those
occasions uttered in private, or addressed to a provincial audience, is
here sounded forth in the streets of the great religious metropolis,
and in language of surpassing majesty, simplicity, and grace. It is
just Jehovah's ancient proclamation now sounding forth through human
flesh, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come
ye to the waters, and he that hath no Money!" &c. (Isa 55:1). In this light we have but two
alternatives; either to say with Caiaphas of Him that uttered such
words, "He is guilty of death," or falling down before Him to
exclaim with Thomas, " My Lord AND MY
38. as the scripture hath said—These
words belong to what follows, "Out of his belly, as the scripture hath
said, shall flow," &c. referring not to any particular passage, but
to such as Isa 58:11; Joe 3:18; Zec 14:8; Eze
47:1-12; in most of which the
idea is that of waters issuing from beneath the temple, to which our
Lord compares Himself and those who believe in Him.
out of his belly—that is, his inner
man, his soul, as in Pr 20:27.
rivers of living water—(See on Joh 4:13). It refers primarily to the
copiousness, but indirectly also to the diffusiveness, of
this living water to the good of others.
39. this spake he of the Spirit—who, by
His direct personal agency, opens up this spring of living waters in
the human spirit (Joh 3:6), and
by His indwelling in the renewed soul ensures their unfailing
they that believe, &c.—As the Holy
Ghost is, in the redemption of man, entirely at the service of
Christ, as His Agent, so it is only in believing connection with
Christ that any one "receives" the Spirit.
for the Holy Ghost was not yet
given—Beyond all doubt the word "given," or some
similar word, is the right supplement. In Joh 16:7 the Holy Ghost is represented not only
as the gift of Christ, but a gift the communication of which was
dependent upon His own departure to the Father. Now as Christ
was not yet gone, so the Holy Ghost was not yet
Jesus not yet glorified—The word
"glorified" is here used advisedly, to teach the reader not only
that the departure of Christ to the Father was
indispensable to the giving of the Spirit, but that this
illustrious Gift, direct from the hands of the ascended Saviour, was
God's intimation to the world that He whom it had cast out, crucified,
and slain, was "His Elect, in whom His soul delighted," and that it was
through the smiting of that Rock that the waters of the
Spirit—for which the Church was waiting, and with pomp at the
feast of tabernacles proclaiming its expectation—had gushed forth
upon a thirsty world.
40-43. Many … when they heard this …
said, Of a truth, &c.—The only wonder is they did not all
say it. "But their minds were blinded."
41. Others said, This is the Christ—(See
on Joh 1:21).
Shall Christ come out of Galilee?
42. scripture said … of the seed of David,
and out of … Bethlehem, &c.—We accept this
spontaneous testimony to our David-descended, Bethlehem-born Saviour.
Had those who gave it made the inquiry which the case demanded, they
would have found that Jesus "came out of Galilee" (Joh 7:41) and "out of Bethlehem" both, alike in
fulfilment of prophecy as in point of fact. (Mt 2:23;
44-49. would have taken him; but,
&c.—(See on Joh 7:30).
45. Then came the officers—"sent to take
Why … not brought him?—already
thirsting for their Victim, and thinking it an easy matter to seize and
46. Never man spake like this man—Noble
testimony of unsophisticated men! Doubtless they were strangers to the
profound intent of Christ's teaching, but there was that in it which by
its mysterious grandeur and transparent purity and grace, held them
spellbound. No doubt it was of God that they should so feel, that their
arm might be paralyzed, as Christ's hour was not yet come; but even in
human teaching there has sometimes been felt such a divine power, that
men who came to kill them (for example, Rowland
Hiss) have confessed to all that they were unmanned.
47. ye also deceived—In their own
servants this seemed intolerable.
48. any of the rulers or … Pharisees
believed—"Many of them" did, including Nicodemus and Joseph,
but not one of these had openly "confessed Him" (Joh 12:42), and this appeal must have stung such
of them as heard it to the quick.
49. But this people—literally,
"multitude," meaning the ignorant rabble. (Pity these important
distinctions, so marked in the original of this Gospel, should not be
also in our version.)
knoweth not the law—that is, by school
learning, which only subverted it by human traditions.
are cursed—a cursed set (a kind of
swearing at them, out of mingled rage and scorn).
50-53. Nicodemus—reappearing to us after
nearly three years' absence from the history, as a member of the
council, probably then sitting.
51. Doth our law, &c.—a very proper,
but all too tame rejoinder, and evidently more from pressure of
conscience than any design to pronounce positively in the case.
"The feebleness of his defense of Jesus has a strong contrast in the
fierceness of the rejoinders of the Pharisees" [Webster and Wilkinson].
52. thou of Galilee—in this taunt
expressing their scorn of the party. Even a word of caution, or the
gentlest proposal to inquire before condemning, was with them
equivalent to an espousal of the hated One.
Search … out of Galilee … no
prophet—Strange! For had not Jonah (of Gath-hepher)
and even Elijah (of Thisbe) arisen out of Galilee? And there it may be
more, of whom we have no record. But rage is blind, and deep prejudice
distorts all facts. Yet it looks as if they were afraid of losing
Nicodemus, when they take the trouble to reason the point at all. It
was just because he had "searched," as they advised him, that he
went the length even that he did.
53. every man went unto his own
home—finding their plot could not at that time be carried
into effect. Is your rage thus impotent, ye chief priests?