John – “But Who Do You Say That I Am?” – John 7:40-53

One of the definitions for the word “excuse”, when it’s used as a noun, is “a reason put forward to conceal the real reason for an action; a pretext”. Billy Sunday, an evangelist during the early 1900’s, put it this way. He said, “An excuse is a skin of a reason stuffed with a lie”. That being said poses this question…why do so many people refuse to turn to Jesus when given the opportunity or opportunities to do so? People give a variety of excuses for not turning to Christ. They are worried what their friends or family might think or say. Fear and persecution are driving factors given the climate in America today and its fear and persecution of Christians. After all, who wants to be a part of that?! One of the biggest excuses though is hypocrisy. Again you can’t argue with that one either. There is a lot of hypocrisy in Christianity today. In fact, it’s been said that Christians are the worst enemies of Christ. Hypocrisy was one of my main excuses for not coming to Christ when I was younger. All of these… fear, persecution, hypocrisy, or whatever the reason, is all just a cover-up though to protect the real reason about why people don’t turn to Jesus…He contradicts people’s lifestyles! You’ve heard people say over and over again how there are so many contradictions in The Bible. In fact people will go out of their way to find them! Here’s a newsflash for you though…there are no contradictions! What it does though is contradict people’s lifestyles and this is the real reason why people turn away from Christ! “What? I’ve got to do what? I’ve got to give up what? Uh-uh! No thank you!”. Jesus is well aware of this motive for turning away from Him as well. Back in Chapter 3 in John’s Gospel, Jesus says to Nicodemus…

(19) And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (20) For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. … John 3:19-20 NKJV

To finish out Chapter 7 of this study, we turn our attention to the people’s response to the altar call that Jesus has just made to the people. Some people respond positively but most of them respond negatively coming up with some pretty lame excuses! Let’s get started and as always, the text link for the entire chapter and the audio are included so you can follow along. Before we get started though, let’s go to the Lord in prayer…

Father,

Thank You for Your Word and this time that we are about to spend in it. Bless this time Lord and make it fruitful. Lord we pray that this particular study in John’s Gospel will open eyes and hearts of those who don’t know You. Lord, we put away all distractions and our hearts and minds are open to hear Your Word. Speak Lord for Your servants are listening! In the saving name of Jesus we pray…Amen! 

John 7

Let’s look at the passage for this post which is considerably larger than the last passage we looked at. For context purposes, we start back up in verse 37 again…

(37) On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. (38) He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (39) But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (40) Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.” (41) Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? (42) Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” (43) So there was a division among the people because of Him. (44) Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him. (45) Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?” (46) The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (47) Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived? (48) Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? (49) But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” (50) Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, (51) “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” (52) They answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.” (53) And everyone went to his own house. … John 7:37-53 NKJV

The final part of Chapter 7 takes place on the final day of The Feast of Tabernacles or Booths on the day that a big feast is held called the Shemini Atzeret. We looked at the rituals that take place during this feast in my last post so I’m not going to go into any detail about it here but as the priest is pouring the water out of the pitcher, Jesus cries out to the crowd, “If anyone thirsts…” etc etc, and the crowd is stunned by His words because in essence, Jesus is claiming to be God! We looked at verses 37 to 39 in the last post and I just included them here for context purposes and you’ll see why in just a second. Now let’s look at verses 40 through 53 in greater detail. …

v 40 – (40) Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.”

The reason why I included verses 37-39 in this post is because of the first word that we read here. It is the word therefore. Whenever you read the word therefore in The Bible, you have to see what it’s there for! What it’s there for, is because of what Jesus says in verses 37 and 38. He says, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  When Jesus said this, it caused a major commotion because this man that was standing before them and crying out was claiming to be God! It was not only this saying by Christ that was causing a commotion but everything else that He had said during the time that He was there at the feast which is what the phrase when they heard this saying really means. Now begins the opinions from the crowd. The first one we read which many in the crowd said is truly this is the Prophet. Notice the word prophet is capitalized. The crowd was flashing back to what Moses had said and what we read in Deuteronomy 18…

(15) “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, … Deuteronomy 18:15 NKJV

During the time of Jesus, the hope of the arrival of the Messiah had reached a fever pitch. Remember back in the first chapter of John which introduces John the Baptist? The Pharisees ask him, “Are you the Prophet?” which John the Baptist replies, “No I am not”. The people were looking for the Messiah’s arrival and now Jesus is here at this feast saying all of these marvelous, glorious, and mysterious things and they begin to wonder, “Is this the Messiah?”. Some of the crowd have already come to this conclusion as we look at the next verse. …

vv 41 – 43 – (41) Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? (42) Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” (43) So there was a division among the people because of Him.

There was some in the crowd that said, “Yep this is the Christ no doubt about it!”. Let’s clear up a misconception before we move on. The term Christ was not Jesus’s last name! Jesus did not come from the Christ family living on such and such street in Nazareth! A lot of people seem to believe this though when they put the letter “H” between the words Jesus and Christ! That is blasphemy! The term Christ is a title not a name. The term Christ is the Greek word Christos which means anointed one or the Messiah.

Some of the crowd though disagreed saying, Will the Christ come out of Galilee?. They knew Jesus lived in Nazareth and there was nothing in the Old Testament prophecies that said that the Messiah would come from Galilee. They even say amongst themselves, Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?. They were right though. The Christ would come from Bethlehem and from the seed of David. If they had taken the time to search Jesus’s background further though, they would have discovered that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and He was from the seed of David on Mary’s side of the family. This was God’s way of getting around the curse that is announced in Jeremiah 22…

(28) “Is this man Coniah a despised, broken idol— A vessel in which is no pleasure? Why are they cast out, he and his descendants, And cast into a land which they do not know? (29) O earth, earth, earth, Hear the word of the LORD! (30) Thus says the LORD: ‘Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.’ ” … Jeremiah 22:28-30 NKJV

Ever wonder why there are two genealogies of Jesus? This is the reason why. The genealogy that we read in Matthew shows the lineage of Jesus through Joseph giving Him the legal right to the throne of David through David’s son Solomon, thereby proving Jesus to be the Messiah. As legal Son of Joseph, the Lord fulfilled that part of God’s covenant with David which promised him that his throne would continue forever. But Jesus could not have been the real son of Joseph without coming under God’s curse on Jeconiah, which decreed that no descendant of that wicked king would prosper. The genealogy in Luke traces the bloodline of Jesus through Mary and another one of David’s sons, Nathan. As the real Son of Mary, Jesus fulfilled that part of the covenant of God with David which promised him that his seed would sit upon his throne forever. And by being descended from David through Nathan, He did not come under the curse which was pronounced on Jeconiah. This genealogy proves Jesus to be the Son of God.

Back to this passage in John’s Gospel so now we have a back and forth ensuing among those that believe that Jesus is the Messiah and those that didn’t. Moving on now…

v 44 – (44) Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him.

Some of the people were angry at Jesus for what He had been saying. Why? Nothing that He had been saying was threatening or insulting. He had said sweet and gracious things. One reason was for blasphemy. Here was the man Jesus claiming to be God and that was blasphemy in their eyes. I think the real reason though might have been conviction. The things that Jesus had been saying was sinking in and as the saying goes “cutting them to the heart”. Most people confronted with something that causes conviction in them will fight back either verbally or physically. In the Book of Acts, the apostle Stephen is lecturing or rather making a statement to the Jewish rulers defending himself from a charge of blasphemy. It is a rather lengthy statement but he ends it with one of my favorite passages in the book. Turning to Acts and Chapter 7, Stephen says to them…

(51) “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. (52) Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, (53) who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.” … Acts 7:51-53 NKJV

What was the response from the Jewish rulers and anybody else who was in earshot of this statement? Did they stand and clap and whistle and yell, “Attaboy! You tell us!”? No we read that they stoned him! Why? Because they were convicted by his words which is also probably happening here to the crowd and Jesus. The one thing though is that even though some of the people in the crowd acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah, John makes no mention of any of these people becoming followers and disciples. It was a statement of fact not faith. Many Christians are that way as well. They acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God but they don’t surrender their lives to Him.

Some people wanted to take Him, literally grab a hold of Jesus. This actually happens several times in The Gospels. In Luke, Chapter 4, Jesus is grabbed and led to the brow of a hill where they wanted to literally throw Him off a cliff. He evades them though just as He does here as we read but no one laid hands on Him. Why? Because Jesus’s time had not yet come which was His crucifixion. Jesus was on His own timetable not man’s. Moving on now to verse 45 and looking at the next few verses…

vv 45-49 – (45) Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?” (46) The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (47) Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived? (48) Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? (49) But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.”

The Pharisees and the chief priests had heard enough and they wanted Jesus silenced! It would seem, if you read between the lines, that the Pharisees and the chief priests were not even at the feast but in their council chambers. Going back to John 7:32, we read…

(32) The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things concerning Him, and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him. … John 7:32 NKJV

The fact that the Pharisees and the chief priests may not have even been at the feast was rather odd considering this was a holy mandatory feast. Wherever their location, the officers that the Pharisees and the chief priests had sent to arrest Jesus, come back empty handed which doesn’t sit to well with them! They begin to wonder if they too have been taken in by what Jesus had been saying. They ask the officers why they didn’t bring Jesus to them. Their words are probably the most memorable coming from the mouths of what is presumed to be unbelievers…No one ever spoke like this Man. These officers had probably heard a lot of men speak and teach and captivate an audience but there was something about what was coming out of the mouth of Jesus that made them prevent them from what they were sent out to do. Which brings to mind about what Peter says in 1 Peter about the conduct of Christians out in the world. He says…

(11) Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, (12) having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. … 1 Peter 2:11-12 NKJV

and also in 1 Peter…

(15) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; (16) having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. … 1 Peter 3:15-16 NKJV

Because Jesus was speaking with such grace, authority, and wisdom, the officers actually were convicted and ashamed to arrest Him. Again, John makes no mention though of any of these officers being converted.

The Pharisees are furious because the officers do not have Jesus with them and accuse them of being deceived as the crowd had been. Their argument was have any of  the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him. This was a terrible argument. It was not only a tragedy that the ruling class and the priests failed to recognize Jesus as the Messiah and believe on Him but it was clear that they also wanted to keep others from believing on Him as well. This is going on in the world today and especially in America. Those who do not want to come to Jesus and be saved try to prevent others from doing so. I was reading an article the other day where it has been determined that The Bible has been deemed, and I quote, “incompatible with humanity”! Really? It would seem that we, for the most part, have become incompatible with the teachings of The Bible something that everyone is going to have to find out the hard way! Moving on though, the Pharisees then say that anyone who believes in Jesus is accursed because they do not know the law meaning the teachings of the Scriptures. The same thing is happening today in America where we have these Democratic Socialist politicians quoting passages from The Bible and taking everything they quote way out of context. They accuse Christians of being cruel and heartless when it comes to illegal immigrants by quoting a passage out of Matthew 25. The passage that I am referring to is Matthew 25:31-46. They have absolutely no clue to what this passage really means! Most recently, Cory Booker quoted Micah 6:8 at an LGTBQ townhall hosted by the Communist News Network, CNN, which had absolutely nothing to do with the question he was asked! Incidentally, Cory Booker claims he is a Christian and yet supports gay marriage! Many Christians today are just like this. It’s called “dalmatian theology”. They pick and choose which part or parts of God’s Word suits them or their lifestyle. They’ll say, “Yep I love this, the way Jesus talks about love and forgiveness but let’s not talk about this, the judgement for those that don’t accept Jesus and let’s definitely throw out the Old Testament that shows what happens to a nation and its people who accept idolatry!”.

It was the Pharisees and not the people who were out of touch with the Scriptures. You can almost detect the Pharisees disdain for these people, these “deplorables” if you will, that believed Jesus to be the Messiah. In the King Jimmie Version, this crowd is translated as this people or in Greek houtos ochlos which loosely translated means “this rabble”. A good translation for this verse would be, “How dare these deplorables say this man Jesus is the Messiah when we know He is not!”. Not all of them feel that way as we move on to verse 50 and finish out this passage and Chapter 7. …

vv 50-53 – (53) Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, (51) “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” (52) They answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.” (53) And everyone went to his own house.

One of the Pharisees, Nicodemus, speaks up now. We were introduced to Nicodemus back in Chapter 3. He came to talk to Jesus at night and Jesus gives him the “born again” discourse. After this meeting with Jesus, it would appear from what we read in this verse that he had accepted Jesus and was saved and now Nicodemus comes to His defense. If you love the Lord, you defend that love! You don’t hide it from others because it might to be too inconvenient or uncomfortable at the time! Nicodemus uses a simple argument and one backed up by the law that they spoke so highly about knowing. I think there was a bit of sarcasm in Nicodemus when he says this to his colleagues, sort of calling them out…Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?. Under Jewish law, it was forbidden to condemn someone before hearing their side. No civilized nation should condemn anyone before hearing them. Even though it was forbidden under their law, this is exactly what the Jewish rulers and religious leaders were trying to do to Jesus.

Now in verse 52, the Pharisees turn on one of their own. They accuse Nicodemus of being deceived by Jesus as well. They chide back to Nicodemus, Are you also from Galilee?. They assumed, wrongly of course, that Jesus was from Galilee. Being from Galilee in those days was not exactly a badge of honor and being from Nazareth which is in the Galilee region, and where Jesus lived at the time, was even worse. Back in John Chapter One, when Philip invites Nathanael to check out Jesus, his response was, when Philip tells him that Jesus is from Nazareth, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”. If you lived in the Galilee region during that time, you were considered kind of like a hick! The Pharisees then tell Nicodemus probably one of the stupidest misinformed statements possibly in The Bible…Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee. Really? Let’s see there was Jonah and Nahum. They were from Galilee. Elijah, definitely one of the heavy hitters of the prophets, he was from Galilee. So was Hosea and Elisha, five total all from Galilee. This is a prime example of not knowing what we’re talking about! This statement ranks right up there with another statement that the Pharisees will make in the next chapter that we will look at where they say, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been in bondage to anyone.” Really? I guess the 400 years of slavery in Egypt doesn’t count? Or the 70 years captivity in Babylon? That doesn’t count as being in bondage? It was clear that the Pharisees did not know the Scriptures or their own history! We come to the end of Chapter 7 with the Feast of Tabernacles coming to an end as everyone went to his own house.

So this brings a close to a very long and detailed look at Chapter 7 of John’s Gospel and I have a question for you if you still haven’t accepted or trusted in Christ…what’s your excuse? What fallacy is preventing you from coming to Jesus? Many people say, “I have to clean up my act and then I’ll come to Jesus”. No! You come today! Psalm 95 says…

(6) Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. (7) For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice: (8) “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, … Psalms 95:6-8 NKJV

The fact is that the excuse that people use not to come to Christ is to cover up the real reason…rebellion. That is what is going on in America today. People view Christianity as a serious threat to their freedoms and lifestyles that must be crushed whatever it takes! This is why the Democratic Party is so popular because they promise to drive God out of America! In closing, on the lighter side, I love the show “Young Sheldon” on CBS. It’s a great show with a great cast and even though I’m not exactly thrilled with the atheistic attitude that Sheldon has, I heard the best explanation for coming to Christ on one of the episodes and it doesn’t come from The Bible. It comes from a scientist named Blaise Pascal. Sheldon was quoting something that Blaise Pascal had said. The full quote of Pascal’s is…

“Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists.”

In other words, believing in Jesus will cost you nothing. Not believing in Him though could cost you everything! Let’s pray…

Heavenly Father,

As we bring this chapter of John’s Gospel to a close, we pray for all the lost souls in our country that haven’t accepted Your Son Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Lord we believe in You and we know that belief is not false and we thank You for Your grace and mercy that You show to anyone that comes to You in faith. Lord we love You! Thank You for all the blessings, and even the hardships, that we have in our lives. Help us to become stronger more convicted believers in You and help lead others to You that do not know You and we pray this Lord in Your Name…Amen!