Exposition of the Gospel of John
Christ in the temple (Concluded)
The following is a general Outline of the passage which is to be before us:—
1. The Pharisees’ attempt to apprehend Christ: verse 32.
2. Christ’s words to their officers: verses 33, 34.
3. The mystification of the Jews: verses 35, 36.
4. Christ’s words on the last day of the Feast: verses 37-39.
5. The divided opinion of the common people: verses 40-44.
6. The confession of the officers: verses 45, 46.
7. The conference of the Pharisees broken up by Nicodemus: verses 47-53.
The passage for our present consideration continues and completes the one that was before us in our last lesson. It views our Lord still in the Temple, and supplies additional evidences of His absolute Deity. It also affords further proofs of the desperate wickedness of the human heart. There is a strange mingling of the lights and the shadows. First, the Pharisees send officers to arrest Christ, and then we find these returning to their masters and confessing that never man spake as He did. On the one hand, we hear of Christ ministering blessing to the thirsty souls who come unto Him and drink; on the other, we learn of there being a division among the people because of Him. The Sanhedrin sit in judgment upon Christ, and yet one of their own number, Nicodemus, is found rebuking them.
Before examining in detail the dosing verses of John 7 this will be the best place, perhaps, to call attention (though very briefly) to the significant order of truth found in John 5, 6, and 7. This may be seen in two different directions: First, concerning Christ Himself; second, concerning His people. In John 5 Christ is seen disclosing His Divine attributes, His essential perfections. In John 6 He is viewed in His humiliation, as the One come down from heaven, and who was to "give his life" for the world. But here in John 7, He says, "Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me" (verse 33), and speaks of the gift of the Holy Spirit, which was subsequent upon His glorification (verse 39). So, too, there is a similar progressive unfolding of truth in connection with the believer. In John 5 he is viewed as "quickened" (verse 21). In John 6 we see the result of this: he comes to Christ and is saved. Now, in John 7, we hear of "rivers of living water" flowing from him to others!
"The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him" (John 7:32). Things began to move swiftly. An interval of but six months divides between the time contemplated in our lesson and the actual crucifixion of Christ. The shadows commence to fall more thickly and darkly across His path. The opposition of His enemies is more definite and relentless. The religious leaders were incensed: their intelligence had been called into question (verse 26), and they were losing their hold over many of the people (verse 31). When these tidings reached the ears of the Pharisees and chief priests, they sent out officers to arrest the Savior.
"Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me" (John 7:33). This was tantamount to saying, My presence here is a source of annoyance to your masters, but not for long will this be continued. But our Lord did not forget to remind these officers that He was complete master of the situation. None could remove Him until His work was finished: "Yet a little while am I with you." True that little while spanned only six months, but until these had run their course He would be with them, and no power on earth could prevent it; no power either human or satanic could shorten that little while by so much as a single day or hour. And when that little while had expired He would "go." He would return to His Father in heaven. Equally powerless would they be to prevent this. Of His own self He would lay down His life, and of His own self would He take it again.
"Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me." How solemnly these words apply to our own age! Christ is now here in the Person of the Holy Spirit. But not forever is the Holy Spirit to remain in the world. When the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, then shall the Holy Spirit return to the One that sent Him. And how many indications there are that this is not far distant! Verily, we are justified in saying to sinners, "Yet a little while" will the Holy Spirit be "with you" and then He will "go unto him" that sent Him. Then resist Him no longer: "Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts."
"Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come" (John 7:34). This, no doubt, received its first fulfillment immediately after our Lord had risen from the dead. When "some of the watch" came to Jerusalem and made known to the chief priests that Christ had risen, that the sepulcher was empty, we may be sure that a diligent search was made for Him. But never again did any of them set eyes upon Him—the next time they shall behold Him will be at the Great White Throne. Whither He had gone they could not come, for "Except a man be born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God." And how tragically have these words of Christ received a continual verification in connection with Israel all through the centuries. In vain have the Jews sought their Messiah: in vain, because there is a veil over their hearts even as they read their own Scriptures (2 Cor. 3:15).
"Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come" (John 7:34). These words also have a solemn message for unsaved Gentiles living today. In applying the previous verse to our own times we pointed out how that the words, "Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me" find their fulfillment in the presence of the Spirit of Christ in the world today, a presence so soon to be removed. And once He is removed, once the Spirit of Christ returns to heaven, He will be sought in vain. "Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me" will receive a most solemn verification in a soon—coming day. This is very clear from Proverbs 1:24-28: "Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me." Nor does this solemn passage stand alone: "Strive to enter in at the strait gate, for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able when once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door" (Luke 13:24, 25). In view of these solemn warnings let every unsaved reader heed promptly that imperative word in Isaiah 55:6: "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near."
"And where I am, thither ye cannot come." How this brings out the Deity of Christ. Mark He does not say, "Where I shall be," or "Where I then am, ye cannot come"; but, though still on earth, He declared, "Where I am, thither ye cannot come." In the previous verse He had said, "I go unto him that sent me." These two statements refer severally, to His distinct natures. "Where I am" intimated His perpetual presence in heaven by virtue of His Divine nature; His going there was yet a future thing for His human nature!
"Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? Will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?" (John 7:35). How true it is that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). Devoid of any spiritual perception, these Jews were unable to understand Christ’s reference to His return to heaven. When they asked, "Will he go to the dispersed among the Gentiles?" they were referring to those Jews who lived away from Palestine. The Greek word is "diaspora" and signifies the Dispersion. It is found only here and in James 1:1 where it is rendered "The twelve tribes which are scattered abroad," literally, "in the dispersion’’, and in 1 Peter 1:1, "sojourners of the dispersion." Further, these Jews asked, "Will he teach the Gentiles?" What an evidence is this that unbelief will think about anything but God? God not being in their thoughts, it never occurred to them that the Lord Jesus might be referring to His Father in heaven; hence their minds turned to the dispersion and the Gentiles. It is thus even with a Christian when he is under the control of unbelief: the last one he will think of is God. Solemn and humbling commentary is this on the corruption of our natural heart.
"What manner of saying is this that he said, Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come?" (John 7:36). And mark it, these were not illiterate men who thus mused, but men of education and religious training. But no amount of culture or religious instruction can impart spiritual understanding to the intellect. A man must be Divinely illumined before he can perceive the meaning and value of the things of God. The truth is that the most illiterate babe in Christ has a capacity to understand spiritual things which an unregenerate university graduate does not possess. The plainest and simplest word from God is far above the reach of the natural faculties.
"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink" (John 7:37). Their celebration of this Feast of tabernacles was drawing to a close. The "last" or eighth day had now arrived. It is here termed "the last great day of the feast"; in John 19:31 the same word is rendered "high day." It was so called because on this closing day there was a general and solemn convocation of the worshippers (see Leviticus 23:36). On this eighth day, when the temple courts would be thronged with unusually large crowds, Jesus "stood and cried." What a contrast this pointed between Himself and those who hated Him: they desired to rid the world of Him; He to minister unto needy souls.
"Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." Here is the Gospel in a single short sentence. Three words in it stand out and call for special emphasis—"thirst," "come," "drink." The first tells of a recognized need. Thirst, like hunger, is something of which we are acutely conscious. It is a craving for that which is not in our actual possession. There is a soul thirst as well as a bodily. The pathetic thing is that so many thirst for that which cannot slake them. Their thirst is for the things of the world: pleasure, money, fame, ease, self-indulgence; and over all these Christ has written in imperishable letters, "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again."
But in our text Christ is referring to a thirst for something infinitely nobler and grander, even for Himself. He speaks of that intense longing for Himself which only the Spirit of God can create in the soul. If a poor sinner is convicted of his pollution and desires cleansing, if he is weighted down with the awful burden of conscious guilt and desires pardon, if he is fully aware of his weakness and impotency and longs for strength and deliverance, if he is filled with fears and distrust and craves for peace and rest,—then, says Christ, let him "come unto me." Happy the one who so thirsts after Christ that he can say, "As the hart panteth after the waterbrooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God" (Ps. 42:1).
"Let him come unto me." "Come" is one of the simplest words in the English language. It signifies our approach to an object or person. It expresses action, and implies that the will is operative. To come to Christ means, that you do with your heart and will what you would do with your feet were He standing in bodily form before you and saying, "Come unto me." It is an act of faith. It intimates that you have turned your back upon the world, and have abandoned all confidence in everything about yourself, and now cast yourself empty-handed, at the feet of incarnate Grace and Truth. But make sure that nothing whatever is substituted for Christ. It is not, come to the Lord’s table, or come to the waters of baptism, or come to the priest or minister, or come and join the church; but come to Christ Himself, and to none other.
"And drink." It is here that so many seem to fail. There are numbers who give evidence of an awakened conscience, of heart-exercise, of a conscious need of Christ; and there are numbers who appear to be seeking Him, and yet stop short at that. But Christ not only said, "Come unto me," but He added, "and drink." A river flowing through a country where people were dying of thirst, would avail them nothing unless they drink of it. The blood of the slain lamb availed the Israelite household nothing, unless the head of that household had applied it to the door. So Christ saves none who do not receive Him by faith. "Drinking" is here a figurative expression, and signifies making Christ your own. In all ages God’s saints have been those who saw their deep need, who came to the Lord, and appropriated the provision of grace.
"If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." Let us not forget where these words were first uttered. The Speaker was not in a penitentiary, but in the Temple. Christ was not addressing a company of profligates, but a religious crowd who were observing a Divinely-instituted Feast! What an example for each of His servants! Brother preacher, take nothing for granted. Do not suppose that because those you address are respectable people and punctual in their religious exercises they are necessarily saved. Heed that word of your Master’s, and "preach the gospel to every creature," cultured as well as illiterate, the respectable as well as the profligate, the religious man as well as the irreligious.
"He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). The language used by our Lord really implies that He had some definite passage in mind. We believe that He referred to Isaiah 58:11, And thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not." Our Lord applies the promise to believers of the present dispensation. The believer should not be like a sponge-taking in but not giving out—but like a spring, ever fresh and giving forth. Twice before had Christ employed "water" as a figure, and it is striking to observe the progressive order. In John 3:5 He had spoken of a man being born "of water and of the Spirit": here the "water" comes down from God—cf. John 3:3 margin, "born From above." In John 4:14 He says, "The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." Here the "water" springs up to God, reaching out to the Source from whence it came. But in John 7:38 He says, "Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." Here the "water" flows forth for God in blessing to others.
"He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." This verse describes the normal Christian, and yet, how many of us would say that its contents are receiving a practical exemplification in our daily lives? How many of us would make so bold as to affirm that out of our innermost part are flowing "rivers of living water"? Few indeed, if we were honest and truthful. What, then, is wrong? Let us examine the verse a little more attentively.
"Out of his belly shall flow." What is the "belly"? It is that part of man which constantly craves. It is that part which, in his fallen condition, is the natural man’s god—"Whose god is their belly" (Phil. 3:19), said the apostle: styled their "god" because it receives the most care and attention. The "belly" is that part of man which is never really satisfied, for it is constantly crying for something else to appease its cravings. Now the remarkable thing, yea, the blessed thing, is, that not only is the believer himself satisfied, but he overflows with that which satisfies—out of his innermost parts "flow (forth) rivers of living water" The thought indeed is a striking one. It is not merely "from him" shall flow, but "out of his belly shall flow;" that is, from that very part of our constitution which, in the natural man, is never satisfied, there shall be a constant overflow.
Now how is the believer satisfied? The answer is, By "coming" to Christ and drinking; which mean receiving from Him: by having his emptiness ministered to from His fulness. But does this refer only to a single act? Is this something that is done once for all? Such seems to be the common idea. Many appear to imagine that grace is a sort of thing which God puts into the soul like a seed, and that it will grow and develop into more. Not that we deny that the believer grows, but the believer grows in grace; it is not the grace in him which grows! O dear Christian reader, we are to continue as we began. Where was it that you found rest and peace? It was in Christ. And how did you obtain these? It was from a consciousness of your need (thirsting), and your coming to Christ to have this met, and by appropriating from Him. But why stop there? This ought to be a daily experience. And it is our failure at this very point which is the reason why John 7:38 does not describe our spiritual history.
A vessel will not overflow until it is full, and to be full it has to be filled! How simple; and yet how searching! The order of Christ in the scripture before us has never changed. I must first come to Him and "drink" before the rivers of living water will flow forth from my satisfied soul. What the Lord most wants from us is receptiveness, that is, the capacity to receive, to receive from Him. I must receive from Him, before I can give out for Him. The apostles came to Christ for the bread before they distributed to the hungry multitude. Here is the secret of all real service. When my own "belly" has been filled, that is, when my own needy heart has been satisfied by Christ, then no effort will be required, but out from me shall flow "rivers of living water." O may Divine grace teach us daily to first come to Christ before we attempt anything for Him.
"But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given: because that Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:39). This intimates a further reason why we are told in verse 37 that the words there recorded were uttered by Christ on "the last" day, that is the eighth day of the Feast. In Scripture eight ever refers to a new beginning, and for this reason, like the numeral three, eight is also the number of resurrection: Christ arose on the eighth day, "in the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first of the week" (Matthew 28:1). And, doctrinally considered, Christ was here speaking as from resurrection ground. He was referring to that which could not receive its accomplishment till after He had risen from the dead. When he said "the Holy Spirit was not yet," John meant that He was not yet publicly manifested on earth. His manifestation was subsequent to the glorification of Christ.
"Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet" (John 7:40). The line of thought found in this verse and the twelve that follow it might be termed, The testing of men by the truth, and their failure to receive it. The first class brought before us here is the common people. Many of them were impressed by the gracious words which proceeded out of the mouth of Christ. They said, "Of a truth this is the Prophet." Their language was identical with that of the Galileans, recorded in John 6:14. But observe they merely said, "This is the Prophet." We are not told that they received Him as such. Words are cheap, and worth little unless followed by action. It is significant, however, that John was the only one of the Evangelists that records these sayings of the people, for they were in harmony with his special theme. As its first verse intimates, the fourth Gospel presents Christ as "the Word," that is, the Speech, the Revealer, of God. A "prophet" is God’s spokesman!
"Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?" (John 7:41, 42). Here is another illustration of an acquaintance with the letter of the Word which failed to regulate the walk. These people could quote prophecy while they rejected Christ! How vain is an intellectual knowledge of spiritual things when unaccompanied by grace in the heart! These men knew where Christ was to be born. They referred to the Scriptures as though familiar with their contents. And yet the eyes of their understanding were not enlightened. The Messiah Himself stood before them, but they knew Him not. What a solemn warning is there here for us! A knowledge of the letter of Scripture is not to be despised, far from it: would that all the Lord’s people today were as familiar with the Word as probably these Jews were. It is a cause for deep thankfulness if we were taught to read and memorize Scripture from our earliest childhood. But while a knowledge of the letter of Scripture is to be prized, it ought not to be over-estimated. It is not sufficient that we are versed in the historical facts of the Bible, nor that we have a clear grasp, intellectually, of the doctrines of Christianity. Unless our hearts are affected and our lives moulded by God’s Word, we are no better off than a starving man with a cook book in his hand.
"Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the Scripture said, that Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?" These words are recorded for our learning. We must not pass them over hurriedly as though they contained no message for us. They should lead us to solemnly and seriously examine ourselves. There are many today who, like these men of old, can quote the Scriptures readily and accurately, and yet who give no evidence that they have been born again. An experiential acquaintance with Christ is the one thing needful. A heart knowledge of God’s truth is the vital thing, and it is that which no schooling or seminary training can confer. If you have discovered the plague of your own heart; if you have seen yourself as a lost sinner, and have received as yours the sinner’s Savior; if you have tasted for yourself that the Lord is gracious; if you are now, not only a hearer but a doer of the Word; then, abundant cause have you to thank God for thus enlightening you. You may be altogether ignorant of Hebrew and Greek, but if you know Him, whom to know is life eternal, and if you sit daily at His feet to be taught of Him, then have you that which is above the price of rubies. But O make quite sure on the point, dear reader. You cannot afford to remain in uncertainty. Rest not, until by Divine grace you can say, "One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. And if your eyes have been opened, pray God daily to give you a better heart-knowledge of His Word.
"So there was a division among the people because of him" (John 7:43). How this fulfilled His own predicted word. Near the beginning of His public ministry (cf. Matthew 10:34,35) He said, "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division. For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three," etc. (Luke 12:51, 52). So it proved then, and so it has been ever since. Why we do not know. God’s ways are ever different from ours. There will be another "division" among the people of the earth when the Lord Jesus leaves the Father’s throne and descends into the air; yea, a "division" also among the people in the graves. Only the "dead in Christ" shall then be raised, and only the living ones who have been saved by Him will be "caught up together to meet the Lord in the air." The rest will be left behind. What a "division" that will be! In which company would you be, dear reader, were Christ to come today?
"So there was a division among the people because of him." If this was the ease when Christ was upon earth, then we must not be surprised if those who faithfully serve Him occasion a "division" during His absence. Scripture says, "Woe unto you when all men speak well of you." Read through the book of Acts and note what "divisions" the preaching of the apostles caused. Mark that solemn but explicit word in 1 Corinthians 11:19, "For there must be also factions among you, that they that are approved may be made manifest among you" (R.V.). How senseless, then, is all this modem talk about the union of Christendom. Fellow-preacher, if you are faithfully declaring all the counsel of God, be not surprised, nor be dismayed, if there is a "division" because of you. Regard it as an ominous sign if it be otherwise.
"And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him" (John 7:44). This is similar to what was before us in verse 30. Again and again is this noted in John’s Gospel: cf. John 5:16, 18; 17:1; 8:20; 10:39, etc. But they were powerless before the decrees of God. "Some of them would have taken him." The Greek word means they "desired" to do so. They had a will to, but not the ability. Ah! men may boast of their will-power and of their "free will," but after all, what does it amount to? Pilate said, "Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee" (John 19:10). So he boasted, and so he really believed. But what was our Lord’s rejoinder? "Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above." It was so here: these men desired to arrest Christ, but they were not given power from above to do so. Verily, we may say with the prophet of old, "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jer. 10:23).
"Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have you not brought him?" (John 7:45). Well might they ask such a question, for they were totally ignorant of the real answer. Well might Pharaoh now ask, Why did I fail in destroying the Hebrews? Or Nero, Why did I not succeed in exterminating all the Christians? Or the king of Spain, Why did my "invincible Armada" fail to reach the English ports and destroy the British navy? Or the Kaiser, Why did my legions not succeed in taking Paris? In each case the answer would be, Because God did not allow you to! Like these other infamous characters, the Pharisees had reckoned without God. They sent their officers to arrest Christ: they might as well have ordered them to stop the sun from shining. Not all the hosts of earth and hell could have arrested Him one moment before God’s predestined hour had arrived. Ah, dear reader, the God of the Bible is no mere figurehead. He is Supreme in fact as well as in name. When He gets ready to act none can hinder; and until He is ready, none can speed Him. This is a hateful thought for His enemies, but one full of comfort to His people. If you, my reader, are fighting against Him, be it known that the great God laughs at your consummate folly, and will one day ere long deal with you in His fury. On the other hand, if you are, by sovereign grace, one of His children, then He is for you, and if God be for you, who can be against you? Who, indeed!
"The officers answered, Never man spake like this man." (John 7:46). What a testimony was this from unbelievers! Instead of arresting Him, they had been arrested by what they had heard, Mark again how this magnifies Christ as "the Word"! It was not His miracles which had so deeply impressed them, but His speech! "Never man spake as this man." True indeed was their witness, for the One they had listened to was more than "man"—"the Word was God"! No man ever spake like Christ because His words were spirit and life (John 6:63). What sayest thou of Christ, my reader? Do you own that "never man spake as this man"? Have His words come to you with a force that none other’s ever did? Have they pierced you through to "the dividing asunder of soul and spirit"? Have they brought life to your soul, joy to your heart, rest to your conscience, peace to your mind? Ah, if you have heard Him say "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," and you have responded to His voice, then can you say indeed, "Never man spake like this man."
"Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?" (John 7:47, 48). The "rulers" were men of official rank; the "Pharisees,’’ the religious formalists of that day. Few "rulers" or men of eminent standing, few "scribes" or men of erudition, few "Pharisees’’ or men of strict morality, were numbered among the followers of the Lamb. They were too well satisfied with themselves to see any need of a Savior. The sneering criticism of these Pharisees has been repeated in every age, and the very fact that it is made only supplies another evidence of the veracity of God’s Word. Said the apostle Paul, "Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things which are" (1 Cor. 1:26-28). And why?—"that no flesh should glory in his presence"!
"But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed" (John 7:49). "This people" was a term of contempt. It has been rendered by some scholars, "This rabble—this mob—this rift raft." Nothing was more mortifying to these proud Pharisees, and nothing is more humiliating to their modern descendants than to find harlots and publicans entering the kingdom while they are left outside.
"Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?" (John 7:50, 51). Have any of the Pharisees believed on Christ, they asked? Not many had, but at least one had, as Nicodemus gave evidence. Here is the one ray of light which relieves this dark picture. Sovereign grace had singled out one of these very Pharisees, and gave him courage to rebuke his unrighteous fellows. It is true that Nicodemus does not appear to have said much on this occasion, but he said sufficient to break up their conference. Not yet did he come out boldly on the Lord’s side; but he was no longer one of His enemies. The work of grace proceeds slowly in some hearts, as in the case of Nicodemus; for eighteen months had elapsed since what is recorded in John 3. With others the work of grace acts more swiftly, as in the case of Saul of Tarsus. Here, as everywhere, God acts according to His own sovereign pleasure. Later, if the Lord will, Nicodemus will come before us again, and then we shall behold the full corn in the ear. John’s Gospel depicts three stages in the spiritual career of Nicodemus. In John 3 it is midnight: here in John 7 it is twilight: in John 19 it is daylight in his soul.
"They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet" (John 7:52). But they were wrong. Their own Scriptures refuted them. Jonah was a "prophet," and he arose from Galilee: see 2 Kings 14:25. So, most probably, did one or two other of their prophets. When they asked Nicodemus, "Art thou also of Galilee?" they evidently meant, Art thou also a Galilean, that is, one of His party?
"And every man went unto his own house" (John 7:53). The reference here is to "every man" mentioned throughout this chapter. The Feast was now over. The temporary "booths" would be taken down: and all would now retire to their regular dwellings. "Every man went unto his own house" is very solemn. Away from Christ they went. Him they left! They desired His company no longer. And there the curtain falls.
The following questions are designed to prepare the student for the next chapter on John 8:1-11:—
1. Wherein does this passage supply a further proof of the awful condition of Israel?
2. What is the force and significance of "He sat down"? verse 2—contrast "Jesus stood" in John 7:37.
3. Wherein lay the "temptation"? verse 6.
4. What was the significance of Christ writing with His finger on the ground? verse 6.
5. Why did He "again" write on the ground? verse 8.
6. According to which of the Divine attributes was Christ acting in verse 11?
7. What do the words "go, and sin no more" (verse 11) evidence?