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The New Testament Commentary Vol Iii John by B.W. Johnson

Jesus the Christ.

37. On the last day, that great day of the feast. Whether the great day, so emphatically mentioned, was the seventh, or the eighth day, is a point that has been much discussed and which cannot be certainly settled. There were seven active days of the feast and the eighth was a day of holy rest. It is probable that he to whom all the feasts of Israel pointed, chose this eighth day, the last day, for the proclamation of himself as the hope and joy of Israel. Seven days in tents commemorated the sojourn in the desert, but the eighth day, it is supposed, was devoted more especially to rejoicing and thanksgiving for the blessings of the year. It was a kind of |harvest home.| If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. Every morning whilst the Israelites were gathered in the temple courts, one of the priests brought water drawn in a golden urn from the pool of Siloam, and amid the sounding of trumpets and other demonstrations of joy, poured the water upon the altar. This rite is not mentioned in the Old Testament; but, as a commemoration of the miraculous supply of water from the rock of Horeb in the wilderness, it was in harmony with the spirit of the festival. The chanting of the great Hallel (Ps.113-118) celebrated the past, but the Talmud declares that the Jews connected with this ceremony the words of Isaiah 12:3: |Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation,| and saw in it a type of the effusion of the Holy Spirit. It is held that it is with reference to this pouring out of water, the Savior cried, |If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink.| Alford holds that for seven days the water was poured every morning, but that on the eighth there was a blank, and that then he invited them to the living water which would really quench the thirst of the soul and not leave them unsatisfied. (Joh 7:38)

38. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said. Notice that |believing| corresponds to |coming| in the preceding verse, showing that faith is the means that brings us to Christ. The reference is not to any single passage, but to the spirit of the Scripture, notably such passages as Isaiah 55:1; 58:11; Ps.36:8, 9. Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. Below the spot on which Jesus stood while speaking in the temple courts, was a vast reservoir of water. It is probably to this subterranean supply Joel referred when he spoke of a fountain that |shall come forth from the house of the Lord,| and to which Zechariah alluded when he said that |in that day living waters shall go out of Jerusalem.| Christ now shows that the living waters shall go forth because every one who drinks shall himself become a fountain. It will be observed that the promise takes a wider sweep. He who drinks shall not only never thirst but becomes himself a running fountain, an unfailing supply of the waters of life. Meyer says: |The mutual and inspired intercourse of Christians from Pentecost downward, the speaking in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, the mutual edification of Christian assemblies by means of inspired gifts, even to the speaking of tongues, the entire work of the apostles, and the early evangelists, furnish an abundant commentary on this text.| Christ is the living water; he who believes upon Christ has Christ formed within him, and hence must become a fountain to dispense the living water wherever he goes. (Joh 7:39)

39. This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive. This declaration of John makes the second chapter of Acts the best commentary on the preceding verse. Luther says: |So St. Peter, by one sermon on the day of Pentecost, as by a rushing of water, delivered three thousand men from the devil's kingdom, washing them in an hour from sin, death and Satan.| Because Jesus was not yet glorified. Let it be noted, 1. That the Holy Spirit was not given until after the death and ascension of Jesus.2. The disciples of Christ did not become |fountains of living water| until the Holy Spirit was sent. This marks Pentecost as the beginning of the preaching of the gospel authoritatively by his disciples. The sermon of Peter was the first sermon under the great Commission, the first declaration of the conditions of the gospel, the first preaching by men as |the Holy Spirit gave them utterance.| It was only after Jesus was glorified that he could send the Holy Spirit, and on Pentecost it was declared, |He hath shed forth the things which you do see and hear.| (Joh 7:40)

40. Of a truth this is the Prophet. There were conflicting views among those who listened to him. Some of these impressions are now given. Some said he was |the Prophet,| spoken of in Deut.18:15, and referred to in John 1:15. All agreed that a prophet was to come at the Messianic period, but some held that he was to be the Messiah himself, and others that he was to be the forerunner. Hence the deputation of the Sanhedrim put three questions to John: |Art thou Elias? Art thou that prophet? Art thou the Christ?| (Joh 7:41)

41. Others said, This is the Christ. Others asserted that he was the Christ. The opponents denied this and based their opposition, not upon his character, or his teaching, but upon the fact that he came from Galilee. Jesus, reared at Nazareth, coming to Jerusalem from Galilee, was supposed by the Jews to have been born there, and they were well aware of the fact that Christ was to be born at Bethlehem. (Joh 7:42)

42. Christ cometh of the seed of David, and from Bethlehem. Even the Talmud explains Micah 5:2, as declaring that Bethlehem should be Christ's birthplace. The wise men who came to Jerusalem seeking the young Babe heard the same thing from the priests. Nor was anything more clearly predicted than that he should be of the seed of David. See on this Isaiah 11:1; Jer.23:5; Ps.89:36. (Joh 7:43)

43. So there was a division among the people. The Greek word for division is schism, or implies a violent split. They were rent into two parties and there was fierce contention. (Joh 7:44)

44. Some of them would have taken him. In the heat and bitter animosity of the dispute some were eager to lay violent hands on him. For a year and a half the Jewish leaders had been looking for a pretext to seize him, and when he appeared at this feast they sought to carry out their purposes. Though officers were sent to apprehend him, and a mob was ready to seize him, yet |no man laid hands on him,| |for his hour was not yet come.| (Joh 7:45)

45. Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees. These were the temple police, Levites under the direction of the chief priests. In verse 32 we are told that the chief priests, instigated by the Pharisees, had sent the officers to arrest him. This was the act of the Sanhedrim, and was the first official attempt to arrest him, the beginning of the course that resulted, six months later, in the final arrest, trial and crucifixion. These officers returned without the expected prisoner, and the reason was demanded by the Sanhedrim which was in session, apparently waiting for their return. (Joh 7:46)

46. Never man spake like this man. The only answer the officers could make to the demand why they had not carried out orders was, |Man never spake like this man.| The multitude had not overawed them, but the words of Christ. There is no stronger testimony to the moral power of the presence of Christ than this confession of the rough temple police. |To listen to him was not only to be disarmed in every attempt against him, but it was even to be half converted from bitter enemies to awe-struck disciples.| (Joh 7:47) (Joh 7:48)

47, 48. Then answered the Pharisees. . . . . Have any of the rulers, etc.? The Pharisees, always the bitterest foes of Christ, charge the officers in language of scorn. Have any of the rulers believed? By rulers are meant the Sanhedrim. In the matter of deciding on the claims of the Messiah they hold that the judgment of the |rulers| must be decisive. They were not probably aware that Nicodemus was really in secret a believer, and that another |senator,| Joseph, would reveal himself at the proper time. At this time the Pharisees controlled the Sanhedrim. (Joh 7:49)

49. This people . . . are accursed. Their argument was, |Not the Sanhedrim, not the powerful and religious Pharisees, but the rabble are the believers upon him. They are utterly ignorant of the law and are accursed. On account of their ignorance they are easily led astray.| (Joh 7:50)

50. Nicodemus said. It was a |ruler| who now spoke. The impression made on Nicodemus in that night interview, long before, had been permanent. (Joh 7:51)

51. Doth our law judge any man before it hear him? There is a keen sarcasm in this question. Of course it did not, yet they who boasted of their knowledge of the law, were breaking it in their blind rage. The answer of the Pharisees shows that the question of Nicodemus cut to the quick. Instead of a direct answer they reply with a sneer. (Joh 7:52)

52. Art thou also of Galilee? Are you a follower of the Galilean? Then they assert, |Out of Galilee hath arisen no prophet;| a false statement. Jonah was of Galilee (2 Kings 14:25); Elijah probably so (1 Kings 17:1), and Nahum, also (Nahum 1:1). In their scorn of Galilee they held it impossible that a man of God could come out of that province. With such recrimination the session of the Sanhedrim broke up.

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