John 7:38-53

Henry Mahan

On the last day of the feast our Lord declared (Verse 37) that if any man felt the need of spiritual life, righteousness, forgiveness, and inward peace, it was to be found in Him. "Let him come to Me." The law, sacrifices, and ceremonies cannot give life. They all point to Him, Who is our life.

(Vs. 38) "He that believeth on Me" explains what is meant by coming to Christ and drinking. These acts are no other than for a man to go out of himself to Christ and live by faith on Him and His grace. By faith we acknowledge, receive, and believe on Him as our righteousness, sin-offering, saviour, and mediator. "Out of His innermost being shall flow rivers of living water." That is, he shall have from Christ whatever grace, mercy, and peace he needs. This fountain of grace shall spring from WITHIN HIM, out of his heart. It flows continually in abundance to his comfort, to the blessing of others, and to the glory of God.

(Vs. 39) By living water He meant the indwelling HOLY SPIRIT; for the Scriptures speak of grace and the Spirit of God under the metaphors of water, rivers, floods of water, and abundance of water (Isa. 44:3; Isa. 41:17-18; Isa. 43: 19-20). All who are saved are baptized by the Spirit of God into Christ (I Cor. 12:13). All believers have the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:9; John 16:13-14). "The Holy Ghost was not yet given." We know the Holy Ghost was in being as a Divine person, equal with the Father and the Son; for He is eternal. We know that the Holy Spirit had been bestowed in His grace on the Old Testament saints. We know that He is the author of the Scriptures (II Peter 1:21). He came upon Christ in special manifestation at His baptism, and He certainly regenerated and quickened the apostles. But after Christ was crucified, risen, and glorified, the Holy Spirit came as Christ had promised in a special manifestation upon the disciples and believers as comforter, teacher, guide, and bestower of gifts and grace.

(Vs. 40) Some of the people who heard Him said, "Of a truth this is THE PROPHET Moses wrote of in Deut. 18:15," which many believed was not the Messiah but an extraordinary prophet that would come before the Messiah.

(Vs. 41) Others said, "This is the Christ" – the true Messiah! This they concluded from His miracles and His gracious words. But again, as in Verse 27, the question arose, "Shall the Christ come from Galilee?"

(Vs. 42) The Scripture clearly states that the Christ comes of the seed of David (Isa. 11:1; Psalm 132:11, 17) and out of the town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). These very things they objected to (though unknown to them) were true of Jesus of Nazareth.

(Vs. 43) There was a sharp division among the people as to their opinions about Him.

(Vs. 44) Some of them were in favor of seizing Him in a violent manner and trying Him as an imposter and a blasphemer. But they were restrained by the providence of God (John 7:30).

(Vs. 45-49) Back in Verse 32 it is said that the Pharisees and chief priests sent officers to arrest Him. These officers were among the people and heard Him speak. Being astonished by His person, power, and words, they returned to their masters without Him. When the Pharisses asked, "Why have you not arrested Him and brought Him to us?" they replied, "Never man spake like this man" (Isa. 11:4). The Pharisees asked the officers, "Has He seduced and deceived you? We are your teachers and masters, and none of us has believed on Him." Then, with great contempt and anger, they berated the common people as those who, being ignorant of the Scriptures and taken in by this imposter, are under the curse of God.

(Vs. 50-51) Then Nicodemus (who was a Pharisee and a member of this religious court) stands up to speak for Christ. However, it is noticeable that Nicodemus did not confess His faith in Christ nor defend His claims; he only faintly and carefully states that their law did not condemn a man until he be heard and proper witnesses assembled. This he said, having a secret respect for Christ, though he had not the courage to openly confess Him.

(Vs. 52-53) "Are you of Galilee?" They knew Nicodemus was not of Galilee; but they said this in reproach and sarcasm, also asking, "Are you a Galilean? or are you a follower of the Galilean? No prophet arises out of Galilee." This was not true. Jonah and Nahum were Galileans, but it may be that they were riding the same theme found in Verses 32 and 41. None of them took the time nor put forth the effort to discover that Jesus had been born of the tribe of Judah, family of David, in Bethlehem, and only grew up in Galilee. But as little as Nicodemus said, it put a stop to their proceedings against Christ for the present.

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.