The Confession of the Son of God (5:1–8:11) - continue

G. Public display of rejection (7:14–52)。

Jesus is the “Tabernacling One”, the one whom the world cannot understand or accept because they have rejected his Father and their God. Neither can they accept the disciples of Jesus, whose thirst is quenched by the Spirit of God and whose lives bear witness to the unseen reality of God.

  1. The authority of Jesus (7:14–24)
    a), scene introduction: temple, tabernacles and timing (7:14)
    b). First verbal exchange: the source of Jesus’ teaching (7:15–19);
    c). Second exchange: the source of Jesus’ miracles (7:20–24);
  2. The identity of Jesus (7:25–36).
    a). Third exchange: the nature of Jesus’ origin (7:25–29)
    b). Narrator’s interlude: control in confusion and confrontation (7:30–32)
    c). Fourth exchange: the nature of Jesus’ mission (7:33–36);
  3. The Spirit of Jesus (7:37–44)
    a). Final exhortation of Jesus: the promise of the Spirit (7:37–38);
    b). Narrator’s interlude: the interpretation of Jesus’ statement (7:39);
    c). Final reaction of the crowd (7:40–44).
  4. The internal divisions of unbelief (7:45–52).
    a). First verbal exchange: Jewish authorities challenge the temple police (7:45–46);
    b). Second verbal exchange: Jewish authorities challenge the crowd (7:47–49);
    c). Third verbal exchange: Nicodemus challenges the Jewish authorities.


Jesus arrives late to the feast. There is an irony here - while the Jews were busy erecting their tabernacles, God himself arrived to “tabernacle” among them.

Some argue that his late arrival was to avoid a triumphal entry to Jerusalem which will happen six months later.

Jesus arrived and began to teach, which in the context of the feast indicates his position and authority.


It seems that Jesus’ mastery of the Scriptures and his power of exposition was amazing and yet he had not been trained in none of the great rabbinical schools of the day. A similar difficulty will be experienced by the Sanhedrin after Jesus’ resurrection when unlearned Peter and John would preach in the temple (Acts 4:13).

The scribes invoked the authority of past teachers often quoting them to support their view. Jesus, however, taught in Jerusalem and in Galilee having his own authority (Mt 7:29).

His knowledge of “letters” does not refer to his ability to read and write. In John 5:47, the word “letters” refers to the writings of Moses. Thus, what surprises the Jews was Jesus’ command of sacred scripture.


Jesus declares that the Father is the source of his teaching. As the works which he did were those which the Father had given him to do (John 5:36), so is with the words he spoke (John 3:34).

The distinction between “me” and “him who sent me” is found in the Synoptic Gospels (cf. Mk 9:37; Mt 10:40; Lk 9:48).


Jesus sets forth a condition for knowing that the Father is the source of his teaching - readiness to do the Father’s will. The only other place the phrase “to do [God’s] will” is used is in John 9:31.

Perhaps, a connection should be made between the one who does the will of God, who “does the truth” (3:21), and who does the work of God (6:29).


By delivering the words of the Father, Jesus does not seek his own glory but the glory of the Father (5:41). A similar attitude we see in John the Baptist (3:30).

In John 5:44 Jesus has already criticise the Jewish authorities for seeking their own glory. The false prophets were the ones who came on their own initiative and spoke their own words (Deut 18:20).

By seeking only the glory of the Father, Jesus defends himself against the charge of misleading people (cf. 7:12).


On his last visit to Jerusalem, the authorities tried to “kill him” because he broke the sabbath and was making himself equal with God (5:18). That time, Jesus defended himself by invoking Moses as a witness against them (5:45–47). To understand and believe Moses requires that one recognises how Moses’ writings testify to Jesus.

Now he invokes Moses again as witness against them. Moses gave the law “you shall not kill” and yet they wanted to kill him. Why?


Having a demon probably meant to be insane (cf. 10:20).

The “crowd” are probably those who were against Jesus and sided with the Jewish authorities. Do they pretend no to know that the authorities wanted to seize and kill Jesus (7:25)?


Here, Jesus refers to the “one deed”, namely the healing of the cripple man in 5:1–18. It will be key evidence against those who charge him with breaking the sabbath.


Regarding the circumcision see Gen 17:10 ff and Ex 12:44 ff.

According to the requirements of the law itself, some commandments were to take precedence over other commandments. For example, the law of circumcision took precedence over the law of keeping the sabbath.

If circumcision could be done on the sabbath, why not healing? Actually, this type of argument, was used by some rabbis to justify medical treatment in case of urgency even on the sabbath.

But, Jesus - the Lord of the sabbath - goes further (Mk 2:28; 3:4).


Jesus draws a fitting conclusion from his argument in 7:22.

This verse is interpreted differently. Some align it with the arguments of the rabbis - see above - but they indicate that Jesus expanded the scope of healing - from urgent case to any case.

Others point out that it is not how to interpret the law of Moses but to show the difference between the law of Moses and the law of Christ (Gal 6:2; 1 Cor 9:21). That is, the law of Moses was merely the shadow of the law of Christ.

It is also worth noticing a contrast between a physical act done to one part of the body (circumcision) and the physical act of healing of “the whole man” (7:23).

Thus, the whole point is not about liberalising a harsh and impractical law, but describing the redemptive purpose of God manifested in Jesus


Those who condemn Jesus for performing such a good deed on the sabbath could not see that Jesus’ activity on the sabbath was not breaking the law but fulfilling it.

Jesus will use similar expression in 8:15, where “by appearances” is literally “according to the flesh”. His opponents’ interpretation of sabbath law keeps them from recognising what is the true purpose of the sabbath in God’s design: the welfare of human beings.

Their judgement is superficial because it keeps them from perceiving Jesus’ healing as a sign. Jesus commands them to change the way they see and understand things.


The focus moves from the authority of Jesus to his identity.

“Some of the people of Jerusalem” - probably refers to local residents of Jerusalem and not to the pilgrims.

They make a point that perhaps since Jesus last visit to Jerusalem the authorities got some information about Jesus and change their initial negative opinion about him.


The people of Jerusalem are surprised that the authorities are not responding to Jesus.

Speaking “freely” or “in public” (παρρησίᾳ) can also mean acting with boldness, confidence or fearlessness.

They are surprised at this fact and in a way criticise the authorities for their inaction against “this man”. The question, “can it be …” will be immediately answered. Even if the authorities found some evidence that Jesus might be the awaited Messiah, they know better than the authorities - this cannot be true.


This answer reveals that those people are actually against Jesus. They think of Jesus as the man of Nazareth - of Galilean origin. They do not know what the reader knows - Jesus true origin is not of this world (1:1).


The word “cried out” always introduces something important (1:15; 7:37; 12:44).

In one sense those people can name and locate his earthly origin. At the same time, they do not realise that he actually comes form the Father (cf. 5:19). What the people of Jerusalem think they know about Jesus blinded them to the true knowledge of Jesus (Mk 6:1–6). How different from the reaction of the Samaritans (4:42).


The message of the Gospel becomes clearer and clearer. The people of Jerusalem think that they know Jesus and are convinced that they do know God also. But actually, they do not know both. It is only Jesus who knows the Father (cf. 1:18) and it is only through him that people can know the Father (14:6).

“I know him [the Father]” indicates that they do not know him.


The narrator tells us that Jesus’ last statement resulted in the immediate attempt to capture him (see 5:18).

But at the same time the attempt failed for the hour of his arrest and passion had not yet arrived (cf. 8:20: 12:23, 27; 13:1; 17:1). God’s plan and purpose cannot be thwarted by people.


Comparing the number of “signs” performed by Jesus with the presumed number of signs expected to be performed by “the Christ”, many from the crowd believed in Jesus. But, was that the faith that the Gospel wants to lead the reader to?

Faith based on Jesus’ miracles is very rudimentary and must mature into a genuine faith (cf. 2:23–24).


The authorities heard the “whispering” of the crowd (cf. 6:41, 61). Both the Pharisees and the chief priests responded.

It is assumed that the Pharisees would be closer to the people and more aware of their issues than the high priests. On the other hand, the members of the leading priestly families were in the position of power.

The temple police was responsible for the maintenance of law and order within the temple precincts. They were chosen from Levites but their commander (the ‘captain of the temple’) was usually drawn from one of the leading high priestly families. He had high authority, next only to the high priest.


This statement of Jesus focuses not on his origin but on his mission (cf. 7:25–29). The statement that he is going to be with them “for a little longer” excludes the temple police or the high priests from controlling what happens to him and when. Everything is in the hand of the one who sent him - the Father. But none of them is able to recognise it.


These words are repeated in 8:21–22; 13:33.

Jesus now defines the issue that separates him from his opponents. They cannot come where he is. Notice, that in the case of the disciples, Jesus will add something more (14:2–3).

Again, the authorities do not realise that the God they seek to defend by arresting Jesus can only be known through the one they are trying to arrest and kill (1:18).


The statement by Jesus sounded like a riddle to those who heard him. The Jews - again we are back to this term - clearly misunderstood Jesus’ departure. Their ignorance is seen in the suggestions they present: a missionary trip to the Jews in diaspora or to teach the Gentiles (see also 12:20ff). And yet, if they only knew that after the resurrection, he will indeed go there by the sending his apostles (cf. Mt 28:19–20; Acts 1:8).


See John 8:21 ff. It is sin - especially the sin of refusing to believe in him - that will make it impossible for them to come where he is going.

With regards to those who believe in him see 12:26; 14:2–3.


For the first seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles, the priests would carry water from the pool of Siloam in procession to the temple and pour it out together with wine on the altar as a libation - a sacrificial offering - and a symbolic prayer for rain. The ceremony acknowledge God’s goodness in sending rain without which there would not be fruits of the harvest - barley, wheat, vine, and olive.

On the eighth day was a solemn assembly (Lev 23:36; cf. Num 29:35 ff; Neh 8:18). It seems that there was procession with water on that day.

This feast directly preceded rainy season, thus this concluding ceremony was an expression of dependance on the divine miracle of rain - an essential component of life itself. But, like with any ritual there is a danger that it can turn into a sort of magical one - namely, the people would place their trust in the ritual itself.

In the midst of that assembly and ceremony, Jesus stood up and cried out; God whom they asked for rain stood among them to address them.

In Is 55:1 - we read “come to the waters”. Jesus says: “come to me” (cf. 4:10–11). Jesus provides life-giving water to all who believes in him.

Some argue for revising the traditional punctuation of Jesus’ invitation:

  1. Ἐάν τις διψᾷ ἐρχέσθω πρός με καὶ πινέτω. 38 ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ… - traditional;

  2. Ἐάν τις διψᾷ ἐρχέσθω πρός με καὶ πινέτω 38 ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ. - revised one.

If any one is thirsty, let him come to me and let him drink who believes in me.

The streams of living water are given to those who believe in him.

Jesus connects his statement with the promise in the Scripture - it is not a direct quotation but evokes several biblical texts (see Zech 14:8; Ezek 47:9; Joel 3:18; Is 33:21; 65:17–25; 66:22–23; Neh 9:20).

The books of Revelation makes similar statement (Rev 21:6; 22:1). The living water does not come from the pool of Siloam in earthly Jerusalem but from Jesus and flows to the hearts of the believers.

“Flow from within” refers metaphorically to the seat of inward life.

The Evangelist often interrupts Jesus’ statement to offer some explanations (2:11; 6:6; 6:71; 12:33; 21:19; see also 11:51 and 12:6). Here, he gives the meaning of Jesus’ statement.

Jesus was speaking about the Spirit. This qualifies what is meant by the living water (7:38; 4:10–11). We also know that the narrator again speaks from a post-resurrection perspective (2:21–22). But in this case it is also a post-Pentecost perspective - the fulfilment of this statement took place on the day of Pentecost.

“For the Spirit was not yet” - there is no “given” in the text. The Spirit is always present and active (cf. John 1:32), but He was not yet in the hearts of the believers, because Jesus was not yet crucified (cf. 16:7). In John’s Gospel the fulfilment of this promise is recorded in John 20:22.

When believers are “born of water and Spirit” (3:5) in baptism, they receive the Holy Spirit, the living water, from the Father and/through Jesus and become a new creation in him (see 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; Eph 2:15).


The Evangelist presents the public reaction to Jesus and his message. The people have mixed opinion. But the group that is convinced that Jesus is the prophet (cf. Deut 18:15) or the Messiah based their conviction not on signs (cf. 6:14) but on Jesus’ words.

At that time, there was still a distinction between the prophet like Moses and the figure of the Messiah. The Christians identified both figures with Jesus because they recognised that Jesus fulfilled what was written of both these expected figures.

However, others could not accept a Messiah coming from Galilee. It was generally accepted that the messianic king would be a descendant of David (2 Sam 7:12–16; Is 9:7; Micah 5:1–2).

The people do not know what the Evangelist and the readers know well. Jesus was indeed born of the seed of David (Rom 1:3) and his birthplace was not Nazareth in Galilee but Bethlehem in Judea.

But for John, Jesus is not merely from Bethlehem, he is “from above” (cf. 3:1–15).


The term “division” (σχίσμα) also appear in 9:16; 10:19. The crowd is unable to grasp Jesus’ person and work - so the opinions range from he is the Prophet/Christ to he is deceiving people. The situation reveals the problem of humanity - being in darkness (cf. 1:5).


As in verse 7:30, the attempt to arrest Jesus failed.


John now reminds the reader about a detachment of the temple police that was sent by the Sanhedrin to arrest Jesus in 7:32. They also were unable to lay hands on him and came back to the authorities empty-handed. This requires an explanation.


The answer of the police is another testimony given about/to Jesus. “No one ever spoke like him” (cf. Mt 7:29; Lk 4:22). The words they heard him speak made such an impression on them that they could not bring themselves to execute their commission and arrest him.

Again, it is the words and not the signs that are mentioned here - Jesus’ word stopped them from doing what they supposed to do.


The Pharisees shame the temple police by aligning them with the crowd that does not understand anything. The Pharisees imply that Jesus was deceiving people. This accusation was made against Jesus by later Judaism.

The argument that no one from the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Jesus should make the police realise that Jesus was a deceiver.

Both questions expect “no” as an answer. But the truth is more complex than that. In the Synoptic Gospels Jesus declared that the truth about his person and mission had been concealed from the wise and understanding and revealed to the little children (Mt 11:25; Lk 10:21). And in a moment Nicodemus - one of the Pharisees - indicates that he actually believed in him (7:50–52).

To the Pharisees this crowd was accursed.

The disparaging judgement pronounced on the crowds expresses a characteristic attitude of many Pharisees towards the common people. They could not be expected to master the details of the tradition of the elders. The liberal Rabbi Hillel, one generation before Christ, said: “no member of the common people is pious” (Pirque Aboth, 2.6).

While the temple police was rebuked for being incompetent employees, the crowd was rebuked for being incompetent Jews.


Nicodemus was introduced in 3:1. He now speaks up and protests against this condemnation of Jesus in his absence. And being a Pharisee he knew the law. See Acts 25:16 for the same argument.

The word “understanding” should be noted here. If the crowd does not understand the law (7:49), the leaders do not try to understand Jesus. And so, they may be liable for the same pronounced they used for the crowd - “accursed”.

Nicodemus got a negative response, by drawing a preposterous connection between Nicodemus and Jesus that both come from Galilee. In this way they shame him and disassociate themselves from him. Now he stands alone. But, they actually know well that there is no such connection. They know that Nicodemus does not come from Galilee.

Their statement “search and see” indicates that they already made up their mind regarding Jesus. But “search and see” what? If the Scriptures then they are not correct. Prophet Jonah mentioned in 2 Kings was actually from Galilee, and not far from Nazareth (2 Kings 14:25) - Gath-hepher is traditionally located 5 km north of Nazareth.

In challenging his own colleagues we can see Nicodemus’ own journey towards “new birth” (3:3) and the “kingdom of God” (3:5) that would find its culmination in John 19:38–40.

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