Summary: There is a difference between representing Jesus like a lawyer and identifying with Him.
Would You Be Jesus’ Lawyer?
In this passage, Jesus is still at the Feast of Tabernacles. At the beginning of chapter 7, his brothers has tried to get Him to come up to the feast to reveal Himself as Messiah as the Feast of Tabernacles was believed by the Jews to be the time in which the Messiah was to be revealed. But Jesus told them to go up to the feast without Him as it wasn’t the proper time for Him to go. In this, I feel Jesus was saying that the proper time in the Father’s eye to reveal the Messiah wasn’t the feast of Tabernacles, but Passover. Also, the Messiah would not be revealed as a conquering king but on a cross instead.
The Jewish leadership was plotting to arrest Jesus if He dared to show Himself, and so they were surprised when He did not come. Perhaps they felt a sense of relief that they had at least shut Him up. So they were caught by surprise when he not only showed up but taught boldly in the Temple. So they hurriedly put the plan to arrest Him into effect. They sent their own Levitical temple guard to seize Him.
Jesus became even more bold and interrupted the water pouring service by crying out and inviting all who were thirsty to come to Him. The water pouring represented the latter rains upon the harvest and remembered the water which came forth from the rock in the wilderness. But many others also felt that it referred to the Messiah.
Exposition of the Text
In this week’s text, the people react to Jesus’ teaching. The Greek word for “people” here is better translated “crowd” or, at least in the eyes of the Jewish leaders, “rabble.” They were divided about Jesus and His teaching. There was also some misunderstanding about whether there would be one messiah or two messiahs. This is also evidenced in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some saw Jesus as the priestly law-giving Messiah like Moses, and others a warrior king like David who would overthrow the Roman oppressors. So the crowd was divided. And another group who knew of the prophecy of Micah 5:2-4 said that Jesus could be neither because the true Messiah would be a descendant of David and born in Bethlehem. The Gospel of John in several places reveals that the Jews thought they knew where Jesus came from and who His parents were. They were wrong on all counts. First of all, John emphasizes that Jesus first came from His Father in Heaven. And although John does not tell us about His earthly birth in Bethlehem, he certainly appears to be aware of it. It is typical of John to use irony throughout the Gospel. In it, he shows how dull human beings are to the works and words of God. Even the learned Nicodemus does not understand what being “born again” means. No one can truly know about the things of God apart from God’s revealing it to him/her. The fact that the crowd is divided about who Jesus is, is proof of the futility of human knowledge. If one is to be saved, it must be the gracious gift of God. Human beings will never find the way to God. God must find them and lead them to Himself.. And this is why Jesus came.
Another irony is how the story of seizing Jesus changes here. After Jesus fed the 5,000, the people wanted to seize (“arrest”) Jesus and make Him king. Now it seems that they want to arrest Him and kill Him. But Jesus show that He is Sovereign in that everything that will occur to Jesus will occur by the Father’s timing and not theirs and in God’s way and place. They could not lay hands on Him because it simply wasn’t the right time. If it were up to them, they certainly would have. They had the officers to arrest Him already in place.
But instead of arresting Jesus, they returned to the Jewish leaders empty-handed. And the chief priests and Pharisees were indignant with the Temple servants for failing to do their duty. Here is yet another irony. The Pharisees and the chief priest hated each other. The
Pharisees accused the priests of being unfaithful to the law. The Sadducees accused the Pharisees with meddling with their business. And yet, they were in perfect agreement to get rid of Jesus.
The answer of the Temple servants only served to make them more angry. “No one has ever spoken like this man has” was their reply. As Levites, they were trained in at least the ceremonial aspects of the Law as well as much of the content of the first five books of the Bible. The leaders were astonished that in their opinion they were so easily duped. But it is ironic that these “duped servants” were hearing the Very One who had written the Law with His finger on the stone tablets given to Moses and yet the leaders who claimed that they were the true guardians and interpreters of the law were entirely unaware of who Jesus is. It was the chief priests and Pharisees who were truly duped by their own traditions.