Setting

Jesus has gone up in secret to the feast in Jerusalem. Feelings toward Jesus are mixed. While the Jews, presumably the religious leaders, are seeking to take Him, there is much complaining among the people concerning Him. In the midst of such polarizing attitudes, Jesus continues to teach in the temple, keeping the way open for anyone who wishes to put their faith in Him. After Jesus’ offer of living water on the last day of the feast, the rift between opposite opinions about Jesus deepens even further.

Key Verse

(7:37, 38)

Did You Know...?

1. The chief priests (7:32) were the principal priests, the higher temple officials, including, besides the high priest himself, the captain of the temple, the temple overseer and the treasurers. [ref]

2. Officers (7:32) refer to the police force of the Sanhedrin used to maintain public order in town and country. [ref]

3. The Dispersion (7:35), also known as the Diaspora, denotes the large number of Jews living outside of Palestine in various parts of the empire and beyond.

4. The last day, that great day of the feast (7:37) was either the seventh day of the feast, marked by a water-pouring rite that had developed before the first century, or the eighth day, on which a sacred assembly was held (cf. Lev. 23:36; Num. 29:35; Neh. 8:18).

5. “As the Scripture has said” (7:38): Jesus’ statement about living water is not a word-for-word quotation of a particular passage. Instead, it encapsulates the message of different Old Testament prophecies, such as Isa 12:3; 43:20; 44:3; 55:1; 58:11; Zech 14:8..

Outline

  • Jesus’ Origin
    (7:25–31)
  • Jesus’ Departure
    (7:32–36)
  • Jesus’ Promise of Living Water
    (7:37–39)
  • Division among the People
    (7:40–44)
  • Failed Attempt to Arrest Jesus
    (7:45–53)

Keywords/Phrases

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General Analysis

  • 1.

    Identify the things by which the various people in the narrative determined their attitude toward Jesus.

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    1. “We know where this Man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from” (7:27). 2. “When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?” (7:31). 3. “Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying (i.e., Jesus’ saying in vv. 37–38), said, ‘Truly this is the Prophet’” (7:40). 4. “Will the Christ come out of Galilee?” (7:41, 52) 5. “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (7:46) 6. “Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him?” (7:48) 7. “No prophet has arisen out of Galilee” (7:52).

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Segment Analysis

  • 7:25–31

    1.

    What did Jesus mean by “You both know Me, and you know where I am from”?

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    Jesus spoke these words when the people were discussing His identity and His origin (7:25–27). On the one hand, Jesus concurred with His audience that they knew Him and where He was from. On the other hand, they only knew Him and His origin to a very limited extent. What they thought they knew was only from an earthly point of view, i.e., Jesus was from Galilee. But they knew nothing about Jesus’ heavenly origin or His identity as the Son of God. That is why Jesus continued to say in verse 28 that they did not know the One who sent Him. If they had truly known Jesus, they would have known His Father also (cf. Jn 8:19).

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  • 2.

    To what extent do you know Jesus and where He is from?

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  • 3.

    Why is Jesus’ origin important?

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    Eternal life is founded on the knowledge that Jesus is from God and on the belief that He is sent by God (Jn 17:3, 8). Unless a person is convinced that Jesus is the incarnate word and the only way to the Father, he would not believe in Him as His Lord and Savior.

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  • 4a.

    What distinction did Jesus make between Him and His hearers?

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    Jesus stated that the people did not know the One who sent Him but He knew Him.

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  • 4b.

    What is the point of the distinction?

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    Jesus underscored the fact that He was sent by His Father in order to show that He was not the ordinary man they thought He was. They were ignorant of God the Father. But only He had first-hand knowledge of God. Now that Jesus had told them His identity as the divine ambassador, they must decide whether to believe in Him or to reject Him. Jesus’ words thus resulted in two opposite reactions (7:30, 31).

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  • 7:32–36

    5.

    What message did Jesus convey to the people by speaking about His impending departure?

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    Like His declaration about His origin (7:28, 29), Jesus’ statement about His departure was also an appeal to faith. Jesus would not remain in the world for long, and the people must therefore make the decision to believe in Him before He is gone from them (cf. Jn 8:21).

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  • 6.

    What does the reaction of the Jews tell us?

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    As was often the case in John, Jesus’ listeners failed to grasp the meaning of Jesus’ words.

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  • 7:37–39

    7.

    What is the reference to the Holy Spirit that was not yet given (39)? When was the Holy Spirit actually poured out for the first time?

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    The Lord Jesus was speaking concerning the promise of the Holy Spirit, whom He would pour out on believers after His exaltation (Acts 2:32, 33). This was the Holy Spirit whom the Lord promised the disciples while He was still with them, the Spirit who would be given to believers to dwell in them (Jn 14:16, 17, 26; 16:7, 13, 14). This promise came true on the Day of Pentecost when the Lord Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit on the disciples and they began to speak with other tongues (Acts 2:1–4).

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  • 8.

    How is the Holy Spirit like rivers of living water?

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    A sinner feels empty because he is estranged from God. But God is able to fill that inner void by dwelling in us through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit satisfies our soul with the love of God, hope, and joy (Rom 5:1–5). He continues to renew us, sanctify us, edify us, comfort us, and strengthen us (Tit 3:5, 6; 2 Thess 2:13; Rom 8:26; Acts 9:31; Eph 3:14–16; cf. Jn 14:26). Unlike the temporary satisfaction derived from material things, the Holy Spirit fills our souls by transforming us into God’s likeness (cf. Eph 5:18). As long as we walk in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit will be for us like rivers of living water that quench us and never run dry.

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  • 9.

    What does it mean to thirst? How do we come to Jesus to drink?

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    Being thirsty is a spiritual condition of separation from God. Jesus’ invitation, however, is extended to those who not only are in this spiritual condition (in fact, everyone who is under sin is in this condition), but also those who seek to be filled. “Coming to” Jesus in the Gospel according to John is another way of saying believing in Him. By trusting in Jesus as our Savior and His promise of eternal life and asking Him to quench us (cf. Jn 4:10), we can receive the indwelling of Jesus Himself through the Holy Spirit.

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  • 7:40–44

    10.

    What prompted some of the people to proclaim that Jesus was the Prophet and the Christ?

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    Jesus’ saying about the Holy Spirit and Him being the source of living water (7:40).

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  • 11.

    What made the rest unable to accept Jesus?

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    Those who could not accept Jesus stumbled over their own assumption about the Christ (7:41, 42).

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  • 12.

    What irony is embedded in verse 42?

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    Those who could not believe in Jesus were correct in saying that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, but they were ignorant of the fact that Jesus was indeed the Son of David and was born in Bethlehem. If they had only opened their hearts to what Jesus was revealing to them through His teachings and His signs, they would not have let their own ignorance get in the way of faith.

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  • 7:45–53

    13.

    In what ways can we see in this segment the extent of the Pharisees’ stubborn unbelief?

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    They refused to consider if there was any truth in Jesus’ words or if the signs He had done meant anything. They judged Jesus by the fact that none of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him (again, a misjudgment because Nicodemus was both a ruler and a believer in Jesus). They even resorted to calling the crowd accursed as a way to justify their own unbelief. Even when Nicodemus tried to defend Jesus, these Pharisees used the fact that no prophet had arisen out of Galilee to prove that they were right. Their criteria, which were based on external things that men value, such as status, place of birth, or social acceptance, had blinded them from seeing who Jesus really was.

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  • 14.

    What recurring issue also made the Pharisees stumble here?

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    Like the people who thought that Jesus could not be the Christ because He was from Galilee, the Pharisees here made the same mistake. In fact, the mistake of the Pharisees was even worse because it was based on their contempt for Galilee rather than on the prophecy of Scripture.

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  • 15.

    How is verse 53 a dramatic summary of the people’s reactions to Jesus in this chapter?

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    After recording the many murmuring, confusion, and debate among the people and the Pharisees, the chapter ends with the note that everyone went to his own house. The implication of this concluding remark is that by the end of the feast, the public remained divided in their attitude toward Jesus.

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