This chapter begins with a conversation between Jesus and what we are told to be brethren, brethren who are giving Jesus advice. They are advising Him to go the feast which was about to be held at Jerusalem as it would help His ministry much more than to be at Galilee. They said unto Him: Depart hence, and go into Judae, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. For there is no man that doeth anything in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known known. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world.
The ‘if’ expressed their unbelief (v. 5). It seemed strange to them that Jesus was so inactive and somewhat secretive especially if He were the Messiah. Jesus in responding says: My time is not yet come but your time is always ready (v.6) meaning that it would be easy for them (also implying that they were worldly) as they were of the world as the world loves its own. But for those who are not of the world there needs to be careful thought as their actions might inspire rebellion. ‘The world for Christ was not a place of ease and self-aggrandizement. He was not watching for an opportunity to seize its power and its glory. It held out no such prize for Him. It was the place into which His Father had sent Him.’ (DA 451) It appears as though the brethren in their ‘advise’ were seeking pomp, riches and honour and Jesus was after no such thing for He knew that these things do not satisfy the wants of the soul.
Nonetheless Jesus does make His way to Jerusalem after the brethren had left and He begins to teach as He gets there. And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? (v.15) There were many murmurs around Jesus and His mission. One of the contentions was around how Jesus came to know so much of Scripture since He didn’t attend the schools of the Rabbis. Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself (v. 16, 17).
As we read throughout this chapter there seems to be a lot of confusion about the Messiah, the manner in which He would come and where He would come from and His mission. Some believed that He was the Christ for they couldn’t imagine anyone doing greater things than this man: And many of the people believed on him and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more than these which this man hath done? (v. 31) On the other hand: Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. 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? So there was a division among the people because of him (v. 40-44)
I asked myself why there was heightened and intense confusion about where Jesus would come from and how He would reveal Himself? Note that Jesus initially begins with saying that as people desire to keep His word they will know the truth. ‘The perception and appreciation of truth, He said, depends less upon the mind than upon the heart… If truth could be submitted to the reason alone, pride would be no hindrance in the way of its reception. But it is to be received through the work of grace in the heart; and its reception depends upon the renunciation of every sin that the Spirit of God reveals.’ (DA 455) So some of the reason why there was so much confusion was because ‘the Pharisees had not put their will on the side of God’s will. They were not seeking to know the truth, but to find some excuse for evading it; Christ showed that this was why they did not understand His teaching.’ (DA 456) Essentially, ‘God does not compel men to give up their unbelief. Before them are light and darkness, truth and error. It is for them to decide which they will accept.’ (DA 458)
Another reason for the confusion was sadly owing to the fact that people didn’t compare Scripture with Scripture. ‘Those to whom the message of truth is spoken seldom ask, ‘Is it true?’ but, ‘By whom is it advocated?’ Multitudes estimate it by the numbers who accept it; and the question is still asked, ‘Have any of the learned men or religious leaders believed?’(DA 460) These people were also asking: why is it that none of the leaders profess this man to be Christ, surely they should know because they have read the Scriptures more?
Another lesson Jesus teaches in this Scripture is pertaining to the Sabbath. Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision… and ye on the Sabbath circumcise a man. If a man on the Sabbath day receive circumcision that the law should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the Sabbath day? Judge not according to the appearance but judge righteous judgement. (v.22-24)
The leaders were still seeking to kill Jesus because they charged Him with breaking the Sabbath. Jesus therefore uses their own reasoning to teach them that they were misled in their charge. The Jews circumcised new born children on the eighth day of the boy’s life on earth and if this day fell on the Sabbath they circumcised on that day. This was accomplished so they wouldn’t be charged with not keeping the law. And therefore Jesus asks them what law He has broken by healing a man on the Sabbath seeing as they themselves circumcised on this day.
‘The Sabbath is not intended to be a period of useless inactivity. The law forbids secular labor on the rest day of the Lord; the toil that gains a livelihood must cease; no labour for worldly pleasure or profit is lawful upon that day; but as God ceased His labour of creating, and rested upon the Sabbath and blessed it, so man is to leave the occupations of his daily life, and devote those sacred hours to healthful rest to worship and to Holy deeds’ (DA 207)
As there was division amongst the people the officers sent to capture Jesus could not lay hands on him (v.44). There came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? The officers answered, Never man spake like this Man (v.45-46). And as these leaders were discussing amongst themselves what to do with Jesus there was a voice of reason amongst the pack who was Nicodemus, yes, Nicodemus from Chapter 3. Nicodemus was introduced to us as someone who was a coward, visiting Christ in the dark for fear of being seen with Jesus but in Chapter 7 this Nicodemus is a different man who is now standing up for truth in the crowd.
How do I therefore apply what I’ve learnt from this Scripture into my daily life? The verse that stuck with me from this chapter is verse 17 where Jesus simply clarifies why we, at times, are unable to understand the Word of God. And He promises that if we desire to do God’s will (for it is God Himself who makes us willing: Phil 2:13) He will not withhold His truth from us. I found this to be a very practical lesson. I remembered the words shared by a pastor when he said that ‘truth is not discovered, truth is revealed’ meaning that we cannot sit with our Bibles and seek to study it the same way we studied a history textbook. God reveals His truth to us. Even this is His grace being exemplified because to whom much is given much is required and He therefore would not want to heap coals of fire on our heads when He gives us so much truth and yet we exercise none. Therefore He gives as He sees our willingness to change so that we are not cumulating charges against our names for the truth we are neglecting.
Love and LightXxx