25 Some of the people from Jerusalem were saying, “Isn’t this the man they want to kill? 26 Yet, look! He’s speaking openly, and they don’t say a thing to him. Certainly the rulers have not concluded that he is the Christ, have they? 27 But we know where this man is from. When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.” 28 Then Jesus called out as he was teaching in the temple courts, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. Yet I have not come on my own, but the one who sent me is real. You do not know him. 29 I know him because I am from him, and he sent me.” 30 So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. 31 But many in the crowd believed in him and asked, “When the Christ comes, he won’t do more miraculous signs than this man, will he?” 32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering these things about him, so the chief priests and the Pharisees sent guards to arrest him. 33 Then Jesus said, “I am going to be with you only a little while longer. Then I am going away to the one who sent me. 34 You will be looking for me and will not find me, and where I am going to be, you cannot come.” 35 Then the Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? He does not intend to go to the Jews scattered among the Greeks and teach the Greeks, does he? 36 What does he mean by saying, ‘You will be looking for me and will not find me, and where I am going to be, you cannot come’?” 37 On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and called out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink! 38 As the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from deep within the person who believes in me.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were going to receive. For the Holy Spirit had not yet come, because Jesus had not yet been glorified. 40 After hearing his words, some of the people said, “This is truly the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Surely the Christ does not come from Galilee, does he? 42 Doesn’t the Scripture say that the Christ comes from David’s descendants and from the little town of Bethlehem where David lived?” 43 So the people were divided because of him. 44 Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. 45 Then the guards came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” 46 The guards answered, “No one ever spoke the way this man does!” 47 So the Pharisees answered them, “You have not been deceived too, have you? 48 Have any of the rulers or Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd, which does not know the law, is cursed!” 50 One of them, Nicodemus, who had come to Jesus earlier, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn a man before we hear from him and find out what he’s doing?” 52 “You are not from Galilee too, are you?” they replied. “Search and you will see that a prophet does not come from Galilee.” 53 Then each of them went home.
As I write this Bible study we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. So-called experts continue to change their minds about when this pandemic will hit its peak and how many people will die. Others argue whether it’s better for states to continue stay at home orders or allow businesses to get back to work. We hear differences of opinion concerning if and when life will get back to normal or when a vaccine will finally be developed or if this whole issue is some kind of government conspiracy. I’ve heard more and more people lamenting that they don’t know who or what to believe anymore.
In the last half of John 7 the people of Jerusalem were sharply divided over a different issue. Who is Jesus? Some correctly believed that he is the Christ. Others argued that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee. Certainly the Christ couldn’t come from there. Even the guards of the chief priests were filled with doubts. They were sent to arrest Jesus. But they didn’t carry out their assignment. They had never heard anyone speak like Jesus before (including their own religious leaders). Meanwhile the chief priests and the Pharisees took a hard stand. They didn’t believe that Jesus was the Christ, so no one else should believe he is either. Even when Nicodemus tried to be a voice of reason the Jewish leaders quickly silenced him. Finally, when their sinful human minds couldn’t come up with any answers they simply went home.
The question today still rages. Who is Jesus? Some call him a great teacher. Others call him an important prophet from God. Others see him as a good man who died for what he believed in. Still others see him as a Jewish radical who misled many people.
In the midst of all the misinformation, doubts and confusion, Jesus speaks to us with words of truth. “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink! As the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from deep within the person who believes in me.” John gave us insight into these words as he told us Jesus was going to send the Holy Spirit after he ascended to eternal glory in heaven. The Holy Spirit cuts through all the misinformation and lets us see the truth about Jesus. It’s not a truth that was new or hidden for centuries. The truth is Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. He invites us to drink deeply from the Gospel. This good news assures us that Jesus came to be with us for a little while to win the forgiveness of all our sins. He rose from the grave and ascended into heaven with the assurance that he will one day come back to take us to be with him where he is.
Doubts and fears fill the lives of even the strongest Christians. The devil, the world and our sinful flesh constantly try to drive us to despair that or sins separate us from God forever. Without Jesus, they would be right. But Jesus has come. He is the Christ, God promised to send. He has made you a precious child of God now and forever. Whenever doubts fill your mind about this or any of the truths about Jesus, come at his gracious invitation and drink from the Gospel. Let the good news of Jesus flow through you and make you certain that eternal life in heaven is yours through faith in Jesus Christ. That’s the truth. Just believe.
1 – As Jesus openly taught in Jerusalem, the chief priests and Pharisees wanted to arrest him. Why couldn’t they?
Verse 30 of our reading indicates that Jesus’ time had not yet come. God had already determined when Jesus would be arrested and put to death. But he still had much work to do before that happened. God is always in complete control. No one can hinder his plans. Jesus would complete God’s plan of our salvation in the time and way God chose.
2 – What did Jesus mean when he said in verse 34, “You will be looking for me and will not find me, and where I am going to be, you cannot come?”
Jesus spoke of his death and his return to heaven. No unbeliever can go there. Those who refuse to believe in Jesus as their only Savior remain separated from God forever.
3 – What gracious invitation did Jesus extend at the end of the Feast?
Come to Jesus and drink the life-giving water he provides. This is the message of the Gospel. Be refreshed in knowing that Jesus gave his life for you and rose again that you have eternal life in him.
4 – Why did the Pharisees speak out against Nicodemus even though he was one of them?
Nicodemus had been taught by Jesus privately on an earlier occasion. (See John 3) He wanted Jesus to at least receive a fair hearing. But the Pharisees were so hardened in their unbelief that they refused to listen to the truth Jesus proclaimed. It is an act of pure grace that God began to work faith in Jesus in Nicodemus. We praise our Lord that he cut through our sinful flesh to create saving faith in Jesus in us.
If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to