Summary: Spiritual understanding is not produced solely by learning facts or procedures, but rather it depends on love for God & obedience to known truth. Obedience to God’s known will develops discernment between falsehood & truth.
JOHN 7: 19-24
DEVELOPING PROPER JUDGMENT
[John 5:1-15 / 39 – 47]
Jesus has just explained that if their lives are in harmony with God, they will recognize the character and source of His teaching. [Similarly, in John 5:42-47, Jesus said that if they had the love of God in their hearts, they would recognize God’s teaching at once.] [Jesus’ mission is to honor God. He honors God by deflecting glory from Himself, which is also a sign of His authenticity and authority. He also honors God by His obedience to the Father.]
In other words, spiritual understanding is not produced solely by learning facts or procedures, but rather it depends on love for God and obedience to known truth. Obedience to God’s known will develops discernment between falsehood and truth.
Having laid down these general principles Jesus now applies them to a particular event in His own ministry in our text for this evening.
I. BREAKING THE LAW, 19-20.
II. MAKING MEN RIGHT, 21-23.
III. RIGHT JUDGMENT, 24.
Jesus takes up the raging controversy over His misunderstood action of healing during His previous visit to Jerusalem. Verse 19, “Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?”
It is clear that the Sabbath debate of chapter 5 still dominates Jesus’ relation with these Jerusalem authorities. In that chapter Jesus healed a man crippled for 38 year on the Sabbath in Jerusalem and instructed him to carry his bed. Rather than praise Him for this compassionate miracle, the authorities criticized Jesus for violating religious law. Jesus here returns to the argument for their hostilities against Him (5:39 – 47).
Jesus accepted the fact that Moses transmitted the Law to Israel and acknowledged the authority of that Law. He accused his opponents, who claimed to be champions of the Law, with failing to keep it. [Those who do not keep the law of Moses should be reluctant about judging others.]
Moreover, the leaders’ plan to kill Jesus (5:18) is in specific violation of the Law. Jesus’ charge can also be interpreted in the light of His own teaching on the sixth commandment (Mt 5:21-22), in which He declared that the act of murder results from contempt and hatred of another personality.
On more than one occasion the New Testament reports that some people were so intent on their hostility toward Jesus that they either made plans to kill him (Mark 3:6) or they tried to carry it out (Luke 4:29). The threat declared here is real. In these months before Passover, Jesus has to be cautious, protecting Himself from those who want to assassinate Him. His charge that they were plotting to kill him was also amply substantiated by their action at the end of the feast (7:30, 44-45).
Verse 20 helps us understand that it was a behind the scene plot to kill Jesus. The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?”
The crowd here is distinguished from the authorities questioning with Jesus previously in 7:15 [unless they were trying to hide the plot from the people]. Perhaps they have come from Galilee for the feast, but at least we can say that they are astonished by Jesus’ claim and know nothing of an attempt to kill him. “You are demon-possessed” likely carries no theological weight and can be translated, “You’re crazy!”