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Jesus reproveth the ambition and boldness of his kinsmen: goeth up from Galilee to the feast of tabernacles: teacheth in the temple. Divers opinions of him among the people. The Pharisees are angry that their officers took him not, and chide with Nicodemus for his taking Christ's part.
Anno Domini 32.
John 7:1. After these things— That is, after the miracle of the loaves, and the conversation in the synagogue at Capernaum. Sir Isaac Newton thinks, that these words intimate that our Lord did not celebrate the third passover at Jerusalem, (see ch. John 6:4.) and it must be owned that the evangelists do not say expressly that Jesus went up to it; nevertheless, if we may judge from the religious regard which he constantly shewed to all the divine institutions, and from his behaviour on other occasions of a like nature, we may safely believe, that he went not only to this, but to all the feasts which the Jewish males were obliged by law to attend; Deuteronomy 16:16. Num 9:13 and it seems that the many cities and villages which our Lord is said to have visited, Mar 6:56 lay on his way to this passover; a conjecture which appears to be favoured by the present passage; for it implies, that, after the miraculous dinner, Jesus had been in Jewry, where an attempt was made upon his life, which made it dangerous for him to continue there any longer at that time. But if any attempt was made upon our Lord's life in Jewry about this time, no scene was so fit for it as Jerusalem; no time so proper as the passover, which happened during this period; and no actors so likely to be engaged in it, as the haughty priests, the scribes, and Pharisees, who were assembled at the feast. Perhaps Christ's disciples also, who were offended by the sermon in the synagogue of Capernaum, had joined his enemies in the metropolis, when they came up to the feast; and incensed them anew, by rehearsing, with the usual aggravations of same, the miracle of the loaves, performed to the conviction of every individual present.
John 7:3-5. His brethren therefore said, &c.— By brethren we are to understand only cousins-german, or kinsfolk. As they did not believe on him, they condemned him in their own minds, and said that he acted altogether absurdly in passing so much of his time in Galilee and other remote corners of the country, while he pretended to so public a character as that of the Messiah: that it would be much more for his interest to make disciples in Judea and Jerusalem; and that he ought to work his miracles there in as public a manner as possible before the great and learned men of the nation, whosedecision in his favour would have great influence to induce others to believe on him. The word rendered openly, John 7:4. παρρησια, has a variety of senses: it signifies intrepidity, or fearlessness of danger;—freeness of speech, as opposite to restraint and reserve;—perspicuity or plainness of speech, divested of figures or allegories;—speaking in public, in the character of an orator; and lastly, authority, consisting in popularity, dignity of character, and civil power: perhaps the last sense is that which belongs to this verse. The present passage seems to be a very invidious and groundless insinuation, as if our Lord was actuated by ostentatious views; the contrary to which appeared so evidently from the whole of his conduct, that nothing but the meanest envy could suggest such a charge. It is astonishing that these relations of Christ, who must have had so many opportunities of seeing the glory both of his character and miracles, which last they here expressly acknowledge, should continue in unbelief. But they unhappily laid it down as a first principle, that the Messiah must be a temporal prince; and finding this mark of his mission wanting, and seeing more strongly than others could do, (who were not so intimately conversant with him,) his aversion to any such scheme, they would yield to no other proofs, and are, it is to be feared, on the fatal list of those who perished, as thousands now do, by opposing hypothesis to fact through worldly and carnal views of things. However, this circumstance serves to illustrate the character of ourSaviour; for had his relations been unanimous in owning his claims, it mighthave been objected by infidelity, that the pretension which Jesus made to the character of Messiah was an imposture carried on by him and his family to deceive mankind; but when we find that he did not owe his success to their concurrence, but that they were rather obstacles in his way, all suspicion of collusion is removed, and the divinity of his mission shines forth with redoubled lustre.
John 7:6-7. Then Jesus said—My time is not yet come, &c.— Jesus, knowing the malice of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, did not incline to be among them longer than was absolutely necessary, knowing that they would take every opportunity to persecute and destroy him; but the time for his death was not yet come. "It is not proper for me," says he, "to go up yet to this feast; but you may go up at any time you please, since you have done nothing to make the Jews unfriendly to you, as I have done, who, by the purity of my doctrine and the freedom of my reproofs, have provoked their malice to the highest pitch." The words, the world cannot hate you, contain a most awful insinuation, that these kinsmen of our Lord were persons governed entirely bycarnal views, and therefore destitute of the love of God, and all well-grounded hope from him.
John 7:8-9. Go ye up unto this feast, &c.— "Repair ye therefore unto Jerusalem as soon as you please, that you may be there at the beginning of the feast: I shall not keep you company, nor indeed go yet awhile; for I must wait a little longer before it will be prudent for me to be seen there." By this answer he sent them to attend divine ordinances, though they were persons of a carnal unbelieving heart: but, as they did not like his presence among them, he would not honour them with it.
John 7:10. Not openly,— This suggests another reason for our Lord's delay. Had he taken his journey at the usual time, the multitudes who were on the road gathering round him, and accompanying him to Jerusalem, might have given fresh matter of offence to his enemies; for which reason he did not set out till the greater part of the people were gone; and then he went up not publicly, but as it were in secret; that is, he neither preached nor wrought miracles by the way, nor had any crowd attending him.
John 7:11-13. Then the Jews sought him, &c.— Jesus did not appear publicly, immediatelyon his arrival in Jerusalem, which occasioned many doubtsconcerning his character: some affirmed, that he was a true prophet, and that his not attending the feast might be owing to several accidents. Others affirmed, that he was a deceiver, who paid no regard to the divine institution. Howbeit, his friends defended him only in private, not daring to speak openly on his behalf, for fear of the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
John 7:14-15. Now about the midst of the feast, &c.— About the middle of the feast (which lasted eight days) Jesus came into the temple, and preached many important doctrines with such strength of reason, clearness of method, and elegance of expression, that his enemies themselves were astonished, knowing that he had never had the advantage of a liberal education. What is here more particularly meant by letters, appears from the Greek word Γραμματα, whence is derived that which signifies a scribe. The learningof the scribes consisted in the explication of the sacred writings of the Old Testament; so that these words most probably refer to our Lord's great acquaintance with the scriptures, and the judicious and masterly manner in which he taught the people out of them, with far greater majesty and nobler eloquence than the scribes could attain to by a learned education. Compare Mat 7:29 and Mark 1:22.
John 7:16-17. Jesus answered, &c.— "The doctrine which I teach you, is not the product of human wisdom; I have neither been taught it by masters, nor have I acquired it by study; but it is the doctrine of God." He told them likewise, that they could be at no loss to know whence he or any teacher derived his doctrine, provided they laid aside their prejudices, and were resolved to do the will of God, how contrary soever it might prove to their own inclinations: If any man be determined, or is desirous to do his will, θελη το θελεμα ποιειν,— he shall know, &c. Good men can easily judge of any teacher, whether he and his doctrine come from God, not only because the divine wisdom and goodness are interested to secure such from capital errors, but because they themselves have no predominant evil inclinations to prejudice them against the truth when it appears, and because they can discern how far any doctrine is conformable to the principles of holiness, which they profe
This important passage seems an express declaration, that every upright man to whom the gospel is proposed, will see and own the evidence of its divine authority; which indeed might reasonably have been concluded from the awful judgment denounced on those who presume to reject it.
John 7:18. He that speaketh of himself— If a person teaches what makes for the advancement of his own worldly interest, or for the gratification of his pride, or any other evil passion, the doers of the will of God will immediately know that such a teacher is an impostor; whereas, if a prophet proposes doctrines which have a tendency, through divine grace, to reform and regenerate mankind, and to advance the glory of God, without regard to the opinions of the world, or to his own interest, he must certainly be sent of God, and should not by any means be suspected of imposture; for so the word αδικια, in opposition to αληθης, true, most certainly signifies.
John 7:19. Did not Moses give you the law,— There is a remarkable beauty in this sudden turn of the sentiment. Some of the Jews called Jesus a false prophet, because he had healed the paralytic at Bethesda on the sabbath-day, see Joh 7:21 pretending that it was a gross violation of the law of Moses, which no good man, much less a prophet, would be guilty of. In answer to these evil surmises, he told them plainly, that, however much they pretended to reverence the authority of Moses in the law, they made no scruple to violate the most sacred of his precepts. They had formed a resolution of murdering him, directlycontrary to every law of God and man; and for the same end were laying secret plots against his life. This reproof came in with singular propriety and force immediately after Jesus had proved his divine commission by the most convincing arguments.
John 7:20. The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil:— "The common people, especially those who came from the country to the feast, knowing nothing of the plot against him, and being under the influence of their rulers, cried out in a great rage, You talk like a madman, or one possessed of a devil: who intends or attempts to murder you? We cannot think that any have formed such desperate designs against your life."
John 7:21-22. I have done one work, &c.— It is plain, that the miracle of Bethesda, here referred to, was wrought a year and a half before this feast; but they made use of it as a pretence to destroy him, because he had done it on the sabbath-day. The words δια τουτο, at the beginning of Joh 7:22 should be joined with the last words of Joh 7:21 if we may trust the judgment of some of the most learned critics. I have done one work, and ye all marvel at it. And it must be acknowledged, that we have precisely the same construction Mark 6:6. All the versions, however, retain the common pointing; and if we do so, the translation of Joh 7:22 must run thus: Because that Moses gave you the precept concerning circumcision, ye circumcise a man even on the sabbath-day. But the pointing just proposed makes the sense more clear and elegant thus: Moses gave you the law of circumcision, and on the sabbath ye circumcise a man, not because it is a precept of Moses only, but of the fathers. Jesus, being charged by the Jews as a transgressor of the law of Moses for having cured a man on the sabbath-day, thus expostulates with his accusers: "You wonder and object that I should cure a man, and order him to carry his couch, on the sabbath day; yet a little reflection might convince you, that your cavil is very unreasonable, even on your own principles; for to instance in circumcision, which Moses enjoined you to observe, and not to omit the performance of it on the eighth day; now if this happen to fall on the sabbath, you interrupt its holy rest, by performing the rite without scruple on this day, because you will not break the law of Moses, which has marked out a certain day for this work of charity; are you therefore angry atme for performing a work of equal charity on the sabbath day, Joh 7:23 and that with far less bodily labour than you perform the ceremony of circumcision."
John 7:23. Because I have made a man every whit whole— Because I have wrought the total cure of a man, both in mind and body, as may be collected from ch. John 5:14.
John 7:24. Judge not according to the appearance,— There may be many wrong judgments of the same matter; but the right can be but one: therefore the latter clause should be rendered, But make the right judgment.—"Judge impartially—divest yourselves of your prejudices, and conceive not an ill opinion of me, on account of the meanness of my birth, appearance, &c."
John 7:25-28. Then said some of them, &c.— The inhabitants of Jerusalem, always Christ's bitter enemies, asked with surprize, if our Lord's boldness, and the silence of the rulers, proceeded from their having acknowledged him as the Messiah; at the same time, in derision of his pretensions they added, howbeit, we know this man whence he is, that is, we know his parents and relations, (ch. John 6:42.) but then Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is; alluding to the popular sense of Isa 53:8 who shall declare his generation? The Greek phrase ποθεν εστι, rendered whence he is, signifies in the Hellenistic Greek of the Old Testament, who is his father. Thus 2 Samuel 1:13. David says to the young man, Whence art thou? and he answered, I am the son of a stranger, an Amalekite. If we judge of this question by the answer, to ask whence art thou? is as much as to ask "of what father, stock, and family do you come? of whom were you born?" Take the speech of the Jews in this sense, and their confession is in point: we know this man whence he is, "who is his father?" as they said before, chap. Joh 6:42 but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is, that is, who is his father? How could they say then, that the Messiah was to be born at Bethlehem, and that they knew he was to be a descendant of David? David was his remote ancestor; and they knew that by father or mother Christ must descend from him; but who was his immediate father, if he was born of a virgin, they must own they were ignorant; but whatever theypretended, Jesus would not allow that they knew his Father, or whence he came; thereby intimating that they wanted not this character of the Messiah in him, John 7:28. The words should have been rendered interrogatively thus, "Do you indeed know me, and whence I am? No; ye do not,"—as Tertullian resolves the question, negatively: and then, concealing his true original, as his manner was, that they might not ground an accusation before the time on what he had said, he passes to his works which were the proofs of his divine mission; yet so as to leave room to infer from his discourse, that he was the Son of God, and not the son of Joseph: and, or yet, I came not of myself; but he is true who sent me, whom ye know not; that is, "God the Father is my true Father, whom you know not, though you say ye know whence I am, and who is my Father; and this you may be assured of, from my doing the works of God." it might be with respect to his extraordinary birth of a virgin, that the Jews at first spoke of the Messiah as the Son of God: and their asserting, that when Christ COMETH, or is born, none knoweth whence he is, might be an allusion to Isa 53:8 above mentioned. But be this as it may, this doctrine is expressed in the traditionary writings of the Jews to this effect, in Beresh. Rab. on Genesis 37:2. "The Messiah is the Seed that shall come from another place:" by which they mean, that he shall have another principle of generation, as appears by the different ways of their varying the phrase in other places. Thus from Rabbi Berachia, in the same book, we are told that "the birth of the Messiah alone shall be without defect;" which could not be, if he was born as other men are. Jarchi cites the following passages from the same place: "His birth shall not be like that of other creatures. None shall know the Father before he tells it. The Redeemer that shall come, shall be without father." And in Berachoth, is the following remarkable passage: "The birth of the Messiah shall be like the dew from the Lord,—as drops upon the grass, expect not labour (or action) of men." It would be endless to enumerate all that has been said by the rabbinical writers to this purpose: what has been produced is sufficient to prove, that it was a Jewish opinion that the birth of the Messiah should be extraordinary, if not miraculous; and that his Father should not be known, whatever his mother might be.
John 7:29. But I know him, &c.— "Were you acquainted with what the prophets have said concerning the Messiah, as you pretend to be, you would know this to be one of his principal characters, that he fully comprehends the perfections and will of God the Father, and will explain them unto men more clearly than any messenger from God ever did before. Withal, by considering the nature of my doctrine, you would see this character remarkably fulfilled in me, and thereby be sensible that I am from God the Father, and that he hath sent me."
John 7:30-32. Then they sought to take him, &c.— The defence made by our Lord did not pacify his enemies; for some of them would gladly have apprehended him: however, none of them had the courage to lay hold of him, being restrained by his Divine Providence, because the season of his sufferings was not yet come. In the mean time, the miracle which he had lately performed on the infirm man was so great, and so well known, and this defence by which he justified himself so clear, and so convincing, that many of the people believed on him, publicly affirming that he was the Messiah, John 7:31. This attachment of the common peopleto the Lord Jesus greatly incensed the chief priests and Pharisees, with their adherents; and therefore on the last great day of the feast, being met in council, (as appears from comparing John 7:32; John 7:45; John 7:50; John 7:53.) they sent their officers to apprehend him, and bring him before them, thinking to confute his pretensions, and punish him.
John 7:33-34. Yet a little while am I with you, &c.— While the rulers were taking counsel against him, Jesus was preaching to the people concerning the improvement which it became them to make of his ministry among them: "Yet a little while, said our Lord, and my ministry among you is at an end; you ought therefore, while it lasts, to make the best possible improvement of it; particularly, you should listen to my sermons with great attention, that you may have your minds stored with the truths of God before I go away: for after I am gone, you shall earnestly desire my presence with you, but shall not obtain it: You shall seek me, and shall not find me." This seeking for the Messiah was general through the nation during thecalamities in Judea occasioned by Titus and his armies, and has continued among the Jews ever since, in all the countries where they have been dispersed—but to no purpose; for their Messiah having already appeared, it is in vain to expect another. By thus predicting his own death, our Lord insinuated, that he both knew the present disposition of the council, and foresaw that they would soon put an end to his ministry by taking away his life. Indeed, some suppose that our Lord spoke these words to the officers themselves, who were sent to take him; as much as to say, "I know the design on which some of you are come; but my Father will not permit you immediately to execute it: for yet a little while longer I am to continue, &c."—Where I am, thither ye cannot come, means, "You cannot come to heaven, where I am soon to be." The reason mentioned in the parallel passage, Ch. Joh 8:21 shews this to be our Lord's meaning: "I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come, because ye shall die in your sins:" or as it is expressed in this discourse, "because ye shall not find me, you cannot come to heaven."
John 7:35-36. Will he go unto the dispersed, &c.— Ελληνων, of the Greeks, by whom we are to understand here idolatrous Gentiles, and not Hellenists, or Jews who used the Greek language; for these were the dispersed among them. There appears therefore a sarcasm in these words beyond what has been commonly observed. They insinuate, that if he were to go into foreign countries, to address himself to the Jews there, who might be supposed not so well instructed as those who lived in Judea and at Jerusalem, he would not be able to make any proselytes even among these; but would be constrained to apply himself to the ignorant and stupid Gentiles, to seek disciples among them; which to be sure appeared to these haughty scorners one of themost infamous circumstances that could be imagined, and most incompatible with the character of the true Messiah.
John 7:37-39. In the last day, &c.— It is commonly supposed, that, while Jesus was thus discoursing in the temple on the last and great day of the feast, the water from Siloam was brought into the women's court of the temple with the usual solemnities, according to the directions of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, if we may believe the Jewish writers: part of this water they drank with loud acclamations, in commemorationofthemercy shewn to their fathers, who were relieved by the miracle of a great stream of water made to flow out of a rock, (see Psalms 78:20.) when the nation was ready to die with thirst in a sandy desart, where was neither river nor spring: and part of it they poured out as a drink-offering, which they accompanied with prayers to Almighty God for a plentiful rain to fall at the followingseed-time; the people in the mean time singing the passage, Isaiah 12:3. With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. The exposition of the Talmud, which asserts that this ceremony had reference to the pouring out of the Holy Ghost, shews the peculiar propriety of our Lord's address, and his application of this circumstance; for the Lord Jesus, whose custom it was to raise moral instructions from sensible occurrences, took this opportunity of inviting, in the most solemn and affectionatemanner, all who were in pursuit, whether of knowledge or happiness, to come unto him and drink, in allusion to the rite which they were then employed about. He probably stood upon an eminence, so as to be conspicuous, and spoke aloud, supplying the place of the trumpets used on these occasions; and by this address he taught them, that the effusion of the Holy Ghost, represented by their pouring out the water, was not to be expected from their rites and ceremonies, but from a belief in the doctrine which he preached: for that by coming to him and drinking, he meant believing on him, is manifest from the context, and from ch. John 6:35. Further to encourage them, our Lord promised them the gifts of his Spirit, which he represented under the image of a river flowing from their belly, to express the efficacy and perpetuity of these gifts, together with the divine pleasures which they produce, by quenching the desires of those who possess them, and fructifying others who come within their influence. See ch. John 4:14.Isaiah 55:1; Isaiah 55:1. The words of the 38th verse are not to be found literally in the scriptures of the Old Testament, but are to be understood, as Grotius observes, as a general reference to the several prophesies which refer to the effusion of the Spirit by the Messiah, under the similitude of pouring out water. See Isaiah 52:15; Isaiah 44:3; Isaiah 58:11.Ezekiel 36:23-27; Ezekiel 36:23-27. Joel 2:28. Zechariah 13:1; Zechariah 14:8. See also Numbers 24:7. The flowing of rivers of living water out of the believer's belly is an idea taken from receptacles placed round springs, out of which great quantities of water flow by pipes; and perhaps there may be some allusion here to the prominency of that capacious golden vale, from which the water at this festival was poured out in a large stream. This figure therefore represented the plenitude of spiritual gifts to be possessed by believers, and the happy effects which they should produce in the world. By the facultyof speaking all the different languages of the earth fluently, which wasthe first gift of the Spirit, qualifying the apostles and others to preach such doctrines of the gospel as the Spirit revealed to them, they were both watered themselves, and in a condition to water the Gentiles, not with small streams, but with large rivers of divine knowledge; and so the land, which till then had been barren, was from that time forth to beexceedingfruitfulinrighteousnessuntoGod.Accordinglythe evangelist adds by way of explication, But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified. These peculiar gifts of illumination and utterance were not yet communicated to believers, being what they received on the day of Pentecost, to fit them for converting the world. Nevertheless, if the universality of the invitation and promise inclines the reader to think, that, on this occasion, our Lord had the ordinary influences of the Spirit also in his eye, the evangelist's remark, that the Holy Ghost was not yet given, will not exclude them; because even these might, at that time, be said not to have been given, as they had been given but sparingly, in comparison of the plentiful distribution which was to be made of them to all believers after Christ's ascension. Accordingly, the ordinary influences of the Spirit are often in scripture represented as the consequences and reward of faith; Galatians 3:14.Ephesians 1:12; Ephesians 1:12. And possibly in the words shall flow rivers of living water, our Lord might design a contrast to the stream which at this time was poured out of the golden vase. The quantity taken out of the waters of Siloam was such, as might be soon poured out and exhausted; but out of those believers on whom the Holy Ghost should come, rivers of living water should flow, whose effect and benefit should never cease as long as the world itself should endure. There had been some drops, as it were, of this Spirit, which had fallen upon some of the Jewish nation before; but those were no more to be compared with these rivers of water, than the waters of Siloam with the great river Euphrates. What was the spirit which Bezaleel had, when compared with that Spirit wherewith the apostles were inspired? What was that spirit of courage which was given to the judges, if compared with that which convinced the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment? What was that spirit of Moses, communicated to the seventy elders, compared with that of the SON OF GOD, which he has shed abroad in the hearts of his people? What was that spirit of prophesy, which inspired a few prophets, when compared with that pouring out of the Spirit upon all flesh upon and after the day of Pentecost? For these rivers of water, though they began their course at Jerusalem upon that day, as the fruit of the glorious and triumphant ascension of Jesus into heaven, yet they soon overflowed the Christian church in other parts of the world: the sound of that mighty rushing wind was soon heard in the most distant places, and the fiery tongues inflamed the hearts of many who never saw them. See Leviticus 23:36. Numbers 29:35.Acts 2:33; Acts 2:33.
John 7:40-46. Many of the people therefore,— Our Lord appears to have been discoursing as above, when the officerssent by the council to apprehend him, Joh 7:32 came up: but as it was an uncommon topic, and he seemed to be speaking with great fervency, their curiosity made them willing to hear him a little before they laid hands on him, John 7:44-45. The eloquence and power with which he spoke, struck them; every word that he had uttered being well chosen, aptly placed, and gracefully pronounced. There was not only a sweetness in his sermons which enchanted the ear, but a plainness, perspicuity, and weight, which made the beauties of truth shine before the understanding with that lustre which is peculiar to themselves. Even these his enemies, who were come with an intent to lay violent hands on him, were deeply smitten: the greatness of his subject made visible, as it were, by the divine speaker, filled their understandings: the warmth and tenderness withwhich he delivered himself, penetrated their hearts: they felt new and uncommon emotions. In a word, being overwhelmed with the greatness of their admiration, they silently stood astonished, condemning themselves for having come on the errand, and after a while returned without accomplishing it. Plutarch mentions it as a memorable proof of the extraordinaryeloquence of Mark Anthony, when Marius sent soldiers to kill him, that when he began παραιτεισθαι τον θανατον, to plead for his life, he disarmed their resolution, and melted them into tears. But these officers are thus vanquished merely by hearing Christ's gracious discourses to the people; which is a circumstance infinitely more remarkable. They return in a kind of amaze, and, instead of seizing him as their prisoner, or making a laboured apology for their failure, only break out into a pathetic exclamation, that no man in the world ever spake like him. This is a reflection which I hope we often make, as we read his discourses. The officers were not the only persons on whom this sermon made a deep impression: our Lord's hearers in general were greatly affected with it; for many of them gave it as their opinion, that he was certainly one of the ancient prophets risen from the dead, to usher in the Messiah, John 7:40. Others declared, that they believed he was the Messiah himself, John 7:41. Nevertheless, some of them, led away with the common mistake that he was born in Nazareth, asked with disdain if the Messiah was to come out of Galilee? So there was a division among them, σχισμα, a dissention and warm disagreement among them.
John 7:47-49. Are ye also deceived? &c.— "Ye who have the advantage of knowing our sentiments, and are acquainted with the idea which we entertain concerning this person; surely you cannot be so weak as to be thus infatuated. Pray consider the conduct of those who are most capable of judging on this point. Have any of the rulers, or any of the Pharisees of a more private station, believed on him as the Messiah? Yet you know, these are most eminent for their acquaintance with religion, and the most authentic interpreters of the sacred writings, in which it is contained. But this wretched herd of people, John 7:49.— ο οχλος ουτος,— this rabble,—(so they affected to call Christ's friends) who know nothing of the true meaning of the law, are cursed with a judicial blindness, and given up to the most absurd and fatal mistake." This was downright railing. The force of the 49th verse, will appear more evident, when we reflect, that the rabbies and rulers among the Jews piqued themselves very highly upon the knowledge of the law, and very much despised the inferior people. The Jews were generally divided, first, into scribes, or teachers of the law; secondly, into disciples or students, who were scholars of their wise men, but neither rabbies nor teachers; and thirdly, into those whom they were pleased to call the people of the earth; here meant by the word οχλος, the rabble, the very scum of the earth, despised by these proud doctors on account of their being illiterate. The reader may find instances of their contempt of the common people in Lightfoot's Hor. Heb.on the place, and Vitringa, Observat. Sacr. lib. 3: 100: 2.
John 7:50-51. Nicodemus saith unto them,— From the presence of Nicodemus, this appears to have been a meeting of the council whereof he was a member; for had it been a private cabal of the great men to take away Christ's life, Nicodemus, who was one of his disciples, would never have joined them. It seems the council was met to try Jesus on the charge of his being a false prophet; (compare John 7:31-32.) And as the priests had upbraided their servants with ignorance of the law, Nicodemus's reproof, Joh 7:51 was smooth and sharp, "Doth our law, with which you boast so much acquaintance, judge and condemn any man before the magistrate appointed to execute it summon him into his presence, that he may hear from him what he has to say in his own defence, and know from credible witnesses what he hath done to deserve punishment?" See Deuteronomy 17:8; Deu 17:11 and Deuteronomy 19:15, &c. This reproof was the more poignant, as it was well founded; and in effect it amounts to a charge, that, while they professed such a knowledge of the law, and zeal for it, they either knew not, or regarded not, some of its plainest precepts, and were even unmindful of those, which, as they were a court of judicature, were their peculiar concern.
John 7:52. They answered—art thou also of Galilee?— Finding Nicodemus thus condemning their conduct, and speaking favourably of Jesus, they asked him with an air of disdain and surprize, mixed with fierceness, Art thou also of Galilee? "Art thou one of the ignorant low faction, which has leagued to support a Galilean Messiah, in opposition to the law, which has determined the Messiah's nativity to Bethlehem? Search and look; for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet." They meant no Messiah, the prophet foretold by Moses in their law; for they could not but know that Jonah was of Gath-hepher in Galilee, 2Ki 14:25 that Nahum also was probably a Galilean; and that Tishbe, the town of Elijah the Tishbite, was likewise in Galilee; unless they were as ignorant of the scriptures as they said the common people were, John 7:48. Be this as it may, such blind judges were these masters of law and learning, that an argument which had no force against Jesus, who was actually born at Bethlehem, weighed a great deal more with them, than all the solid proofs by which he so fully established his divine mission.
John 7:53. And every man went unto his own house.— So that this short plain question of Nicodemus's spoiled all their measures, and broke up the council. A word spoken in season how good is it, especially when God gives it his blessing! Our Lord, having perfect knowledge of the designs of the council, left the city, and went to lodge in the mount of Olives, that he might be out of their reach. The first verse of the next chapter is generally, by the best expositors, joined to this; and the particle δε, in that verse, but Jesus went, seems strongly to point out the propriety hereof. See Luke 21:37.
Inferences.—We see how little the greater external advantages can do without the divine blessing, when some of the nearest relations of Christ himself, by whom he had been most intimately known, were not prevailed upon to believe in him. Who then can wonder if some remain incorrigible in the most regular and pious families? How much more valuable is the union to him, which is founded on a cordial and obedient faith, than that which arose from the bonds of nature; and how cautiously should we watch against those carnal prejudices, by which even the brethren of Christ were alienated from him!
Our Lord, we see, used a prudent care to avoid persecution and danger, till his time was fully come; and it is our duty to endeavour, by all wise and upright precautions, to secure and preserve ourselves, that we may have opportunities for further service, except where the good of the church loudly and clearly calls us to make a sacrifice of ourselves. In the course of such service we must expect, especially if we appear under a public character, to meet with a variety of censures. But let us remember, that Jesus himself went through evil report and good report; by some applauded as a good man, by others condemned as deceiving the people. Learn we of our great Master, patiently to endure such injurious treatment; always endeavouring so to behave ourselves, that we may have a testimony in the consciences of men, and in the presence of God, that, after the example of our divine Forerunner, in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world. Then will our names be had in remembrance, and the honour and reward of our faithful obedience continue, when the remembrance of those who reviled us is perished with them.
We may learn again, from our meek and humble Master, to refer the honour of all that we know and do, to the divine instructions communicated to us, and the divine grace working in and by us; that, seeking the glory of God, we may have the surest evidence that we are truly his. Integrity and uprightness will be a certain security to us against dangerous mistakes in matters of religion. If the light that we already have be faithfully improved, we may humbly hope that more will be bestowed; nor shall we then fail of convincing evidence, that the doctrine of the gospel is of God. For the experience of its power on our hearts, will check our passions, and destroy the prejudices which would prevent the truth from taking place in our minds.
Our Lord was reviled as a demoniac and a lunatic. But, instead of rendering railing for railing, he replied in the words of gentleness and sobriety. Thus should we endeavour to conquer the rudeness of those attacks which we may meet with in his cause; that we may, if possible, remove the prejudices so fatal to those who entertain them, and form men to that equitable and impartial judgment, which would soon turn all their cavils against Christ into admiration, praise, and obedience.
How confident is error in its own decisions, and how vain in its self-applauses! These unhappy people of the Jews imagined themselves, no doubt, exceedingly wise in rejecting Christ, while they blindly took it for granted, that he was the son of Joseph; and had not patience to wait for the authentic history of his miraculous conception. Surely men had need to look well to the force of those arguments, on which they venture their souls by rejecting the gospel.
Our Lord answered their secret reasoning in a manner which might justly have alarmed them; charging them with ignorance of that God, whom they pretended to know, and whom with a presumptuous confidence they claimed as theirs: and would to God it may not be found at last, that many who have appeared most confident of their interest in the Lord, neither know him, nor are known by him! The blessed Jesus, who is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, has the completest knowledge of the Father. May we be so wise, and so happy, as to seek instructions from him; that the eyes of our understanding may be enlightened, and the temper of our hearts proportionably regulated by all the discoveries of the Divine Being which he makes.
How obstinately and desperately hardened were the hearts of those, who, notwithstanding all the proofs which Jesus gave of his divine mission, were yet so far from hearkening to him, as to seek opportunities to destroy him! So dangerous and fatal is the prevalence of error, in such as like not to retain God in their knowledge! How constantly ought we to pray, that God would preserve us from a spirit of delusion, and fill us with such wisdom, that we may know the things belonging to our peace; and, being ready to receive the truth in the love of it, may acknowledge and attend to Christ as sent of God, and as the eternal Son of his love.
With what delight and thankfulness should we listen to the gracious proclamations of Christ, which he made in the temple, Joh 7:37 and some time after repeated from the throne of his glory, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink:—yea, whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely, Revelation 22:17. Blessed Jesus, had we been allowed to have prescribed to thee a form of words, in which thy kind purposes towards us should have been expressed, what could we have invented more pathetic, more condescending, or more reviving?—May we thirst for the blessings of thy grace, and, in the confidence of faith, apply unto thee for them; and particularly for those communications of thy Spirit, which are so highly excellent and desirable, and indeed so necessary for us: supply us with them; we entreat thee, supply us in so rich an abundance, that we, in our different spheres, may supply others; that from us there may flow rivers of living water!
Well might such gracious words as those of our Lord, disarm the rage of enemies and persecutors. Let us add our testimony to theirs, and say, Never man spake as Jesus speaks. Let us hear him with calm and thankful attention, while his voice still sounds in his word.
Happy they who know the joyful found! The Pharisees, like deaf adders, stopped their ears to the voice of the charmer, and while they censured the populace as a brutal herd, and gloried in their own superior wisdom, they rejected the counsel of God, rashly judging without serious inquiry, and weakly borne down by vulgar, senseless prejudices against names and places, which is all that the senate of Israel opposes to the solid arguments of Nicodemus. That good man, already considerably improved by his interview with Jesus, was undoubtedly confirmed in his adherence to him by observing the methods of their opposition: and where magistrates arm their authority to overbear argument, they will probably, in the judgment of impartial men, produce a suspicion at least, that they know their cause to be incapable of a rational defence.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, As the inveterate malignity of the chief priests and Pharisees led them to determine the death of Jesus, by popular fury or by form of law; to avoid their devices, he continued in Galilee. They who have obstinately refused the light of truth, have it justly withdrawn from them; and where our enemies rage, and our safety is in danger, it is prudent to depart, and carry that gospel of God to others, which sinners against their own souls reject and persecute, unless the existing church of God would be injured thereby. We have,
1. The conversation which passed in Galilee between Jesus and some of his relations. The feast of tabernacles being at hand, when a great concourse of people would be assembled in Jerusalem:
[1.] They urge him to make his public appearance there, and not stay in that obscure part of the country, but go up to the metropolis, and shew himself and his wondrous works, if really they would bear the test of examination: since this could not fail of getting him disciples among the great men at Jerusalem, and of confirming those he had already made, who would be assembled there on this solemnity. And they suggest that this would be the way most effectually to advance his own reputation and honour, which they sinfully imagined he, like the men of the world, designed. For neither did his brethren believe in him. As he did not answer their expectations in erecting a temporal kingdom, they began to suspect that he was not the Messiah, which they at first hoped; and therefore wanted him to declare himself, and produce his credentials, or go up to Jerusalem, where his pretensions, if false, might be detected. Note; (1.) Many appear at public ordinances to shew themselves; not to ascribe glory to God, but to secure reputation to themselves. (2.) They who want a temporal kingdom, evidently prove that they are faithless followers of Christ.
[2.] Christ mildly replies to their perverse suggestions, My time is not yet come for going up to the feast; but your time is alway ready, you may appear there at any time without any danger; they seek not your lives, as they do mine. The world cannot hate you, because your spirit, temper, and conduct, are but too conformable thereto; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil, which cannot but exasperate those who determine not to part with their beloved sins. Go ye therefore up unto this feast without delay: I go not up yet unto this feast, for my time is not yet full come. Note; (1.) Sinners hate the light of truth, and cannot but be exasperated with those reproofs, to which they obstinately refuse to submit. (2.) Whatever pretences men make for their enmity against the gospel and the preachers of it, the true cause is this, they cannot endure the testimony borne against their evil deeds. (3.) They who go to ordinances with a hypocritical spirit, may never expect the comfort of Christ's presence in them.
2. The journey of Jesus to Jerusalem. He stayed a while longer in Galilee, till his brethren were gone up to the feast; and then, when his time was come, he went himself, not openly, but as it were in secret, that he might give no offence to the ruling powers, who, if he came with a multitude, might interpret it into a seditious design. Note; Though the cause of Christ cannot be carried on without notice, we need not provoke needless opposition: it will come fast enough upon us, if we are faithful.
3. The expectation which was raised of him. The Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he? Some wished to see him out of curiosity; some out of malice, hoping to destroy him; and some out of better motives, expecting to receive some gracious instructions from him. And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him, their sentiments being greatly divided: some said he is a good man, convinced by his miracles, struck with his exemplary life, and influenced by his holy doctrine; others, hardened in infidelity, though they had not one single charge of evil to produce against him, said, Nay, but he deceiveth the people, as if there was some latent imposture under these specious appearances. Howbeit, no man spake openly of him, for fear of the Jews. Whatever good opinion any formed of him, they were very cautious how they spoke their sentiments, it being highly dangerous to appear among his approvers, when those who were in power were known to be the avowed enemies and bitter persecutors of him and his disciples. Note; (1.) Christ's ministers, like himself, must expect to pass through evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true. (2.) They who are obstinate in rejecting the truth, will find something to quarrel with in the most spotless characters, and suppose that those who act with the greatest simplicity for God's glory, are carrying on some design of their own.
2nd, When Christ was come up to Jerusalem, about the midst of the feast, we find him, where indeed we might expect to meet him, in the temple, teaching the people. He would shew, that he was neither ashamed of the doctrine he preached, nor afraid of the enemies who threatened him. We are told,
1. The admiration which the hearers expressed at his preaching, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Though he had been brought up in none of their schools, he appeared so wise in the scriptures, opened them with such evidence, and reasoned upon them with such force of argument, as could not but astonish them; and probably led some to conclude, that such extraordinary gifts were not attained without diabolical assistance.
2. The reply of Jesus, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. As Mediator, he received his mission, and ability to discharge his office, from his Father, and needed no human assistance, nor advanced ought of his own invention. What he taught was divine in its original, and designed ultimately to advance the glory of God, from whom it came. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself: he that, laying aside his prejudices, as a humble inquirer, comes, desiring to be taught, shall find such evidence in the gospel, as to demonstrate the divine authority of its author; and shall experience such powerful and blessed effects produced thereby, as shall most indubitably prove it to be the word (not of man, but) of God. He that speaketh of himself, seeketh his own glory: an impostor would seek to advance his own reputation and interests, as the false teachers did: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, as Christ did, and all his faithful ministers do, the same is true, he evidences hereby the simplicity of his heart; and no unrighteousness is in him, no fraud or falsehood in his preaching or designs. They pretended indeed great zeal for the law of Moses, and founded their suggestions of his being an impostor, on the supposition that he violated the sabbath, and taught men to disregard the Mosaical institutions; when in fact, they themselves were living in the grossest violation of the plainest precepts of it: Did not Moses give you the law? and yet none of you keepeth the law. Why go ye about to kill me? purposing to murder him, because of the miracle that he had wrought on the impotent man on the sabbath-day. Note; (1.) They who speak of themselves, without a divine call, and for themselves, with a view to their own honour and advantage, evidently shew the falsehood of their religious pretensions: these God hath never sent. (2.) Many pretend a great zeal for the interests of morality, and a jealousy lest the grace of the gospel should entrench upon them, who live themselves in the open violation of the divine law.
3. The common people, who were really ignorant of the designs of the enemies of Jesus, or at least affected to be so, express their surprise at the accusation which he brought against them. They answered and said, Thou hast a devil; thou talkest as one possessed: Who goeth about to kill thee? They would insinuate that his fears were groundless, the charge unjust, and himself a liar. Let us not wonder, if we suffer the most vile aspersions, are counted madmen, liars, devils. The Son of God was thus reproached before us.
4. Overlooking their perverseness and abuse, our Lord proceeds to vindicate that action which they had so much condemned, and for which they went about to kill him. I have done one work, in healing the impotent man; and ye all marvel, because it was done on the sabbath-day; as if this was inconsistent with the character which he professed as a teacher sent from God. And yet they themselves commonly practised what might much more justly be regarded as a breach of the sabbath, than his healing a cripple by the speaking of a word. Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision, as an ordinance to be observed among them, (not because it is of Moses, instituted by him; but of the fathers, being commanded of God to Abraham long before the days of Moses) and ye on the sabbath-day circumcise a man. If a man on the sabbath-day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; which enjoins it to be performed on the eighth day, whenever that happened; are ye angry with me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath-day? where they allowed themselves to circumcise and dress a wound on that day, how could they, with any shew of reason, censure him, who, without the least trouble, merely by a word, had cured an object so miserable? Partial judges were they indeed, and justly therefore does he rebuke them, Judge not according to the appearance, with respect of persons, condemning that in him which they allowed in their own countrymen; or, because of the meanness of his outward circumstances, paying a higher respect to the decisions of their own more specious and pompous rabbies than to his; but judge righteous judgment, weighing the real merits of the case without prejudice, and then they would be convinced that their own practice would be a full vindication of his conduct. Note; (1.) Unreasonable and wicked men they are indeed, who censure and condemn others for what they allow, nay, approve, in themselves. (2.) Such is the force of prejudice, that it often blinds the eyes against the most glaring conviction. (3.) We must look farther than appearance, if we would learn the true character of men. (4.) Christ's words and works demand nothing but an impartial examination to prove their excellence.
5. Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to whom the designs of the chief priests and rulers were no secret, were exceedingly astonished at the boldness of Christ's discourse, and wondered that they did not immediately attempt to seize him; suggesting as if their withholding their hands from him gave suspicion that they had changed their sentiments concerning him, and began themselves to think him the Messiah. As for themselves, they could entertain no such imagination, because they knew whence he was: but, when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is; the scriptures having spoken of him as like Melchizedek, whose descent is unknown; as one whose goings forth have been from everlasting, and whose generation none can declare. Their reasoning however was fallacious: for, though these scriptures were true with regard to his divine nature, and his designation to his mediatorial office, it had been expressly determined of whom he should spring, and where he should be born, in respect to his human nature. Note; (1.) God hath restraints upon the hands and hearts of wicked men, and marvellously withholds them from the evil which they design and have an opportunity to perform. (2.) They who mistake the scriptures in essential points, err most dangerously, as they support themselves in their own imagination with the conceit of divine authority.
6. Christ replies to these cavils. It was true, they knew his earthly descent; their grand mistake lay in not looking higher, to his original from above, and his mission from God. I am not come of myself, assuming this honour; but he that sent me is true, and all his promises made of and to the Messiah; whom ye know not; for, though they speculatively believed in one eternal Jehovah, they did not truly and experimentally know him; but I knew him, his perfections and purposes; for I am from him, by essential emanation; and he hath sent me, in the character of Mediator, to accomplish the salvation of his faithful saints.
7. Very different were the effects produced upon his hearers. Some were highly incensed by his declarations, and would have instantly seized him; but they were under a divine restraint; the sacred time to finish the atonement not being yet come. Others, especially of the common people, struck with what they heard and saw, could not withhold from expressing their persuasion that this must be the Christ: for it could not be conceived, whenever he came, that he would do greater miracles than Jesus wrought. Note; (1.) Though the enmity of wicked men be ever so great against us, it is a comfortable consideration that they can do nothing without a divine permission; and all their power or policy must prove abortive to oppress the faithful ministers of Christ, who bear testimony to his truth, unless he be pleased to suffer it for a time. (2.) They who receive the gospel of Jesus, are in general such as man despiseth, as being of the poor and unlearned multitude. What therefore the world accounts their reproach, that they are chiefly followed by such, the ministers of the gospel should esteem their honour.
8. The Pharisees and rulers, jealous lest his credit and influence with the people should increase, could not hear these murmurs without indignation, and therefore immediately dispatched officers to arrest him, and to bring him before the sanhedrim. Note; Wicked instruments will not be wanting, where power is in the hands of persecutors.
9. Christ, who knew what was plotting against him, addressed the officers and people, saying, Yet a little while am I with you, and till that time was expired, all their malicious attempts were impotent: and then I go unto him that sent me, to my Father, from whom I came. Ye shall seek me; when your calamity comes, you will wish for the Messiah; and shall not find me, nor obtain the least relief or respite, looking for help from heaven in vain: and where I am, thither ye cannot come, banished for ever from that glory where I am. Though Christ's human nature was on earth, he was still in his divine nature enthroned in light. Note; (1.) It is too late to cry for mercy, when it is the time of judgment. They who reject the Saviour upon earth, and die faithless and impenitent, must never hope to be with him where he is, in heaven. (2.) A little while will deliver the faithful out of all their troubles. Let us therefore patiently endure. The time is short.
Lastly, mistaking his meaning, they bewildered themselves in idle and vain reasonings whither he would go, that they should not find him; whether among the dispersed Jews, or among the Gentiles; as if he could find no disciples among those, who were judges of his pretensions; or as defying him to go where they could not follow him.
3rdly, The officers returned without executing their commission, and Jesus went on in the public exercise of his ministry. We have,
1. His discourse on the last day of the feast, when a vast concourse attended at the temple, and they used with great solemnity to draw water from the pool of Siloam, and pour it out with great rejoicings: on which he took occasion to speak of himself as the living water. He cried, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. Earnest to invite poor sinners to partake of his rich grace, he lifted up his voice aloud, and urged them to come to him and be happy. The invitation is general, to any man that thirsts: and none can truly come to Christ but those who feel their want of him, and therefore hunger and thirst after him and the holiness which he has to bestow: to such Christ is a fountain of living waters, refreshing and satisfying the longing desires of their souls. He that believeth on me, as the only Saviour, and reposes his entire confidence on my all-sufficiency to supply his every want, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water; such an abundance of spiritual gifts, graces, and consolations, shall be bestowed upon him, that, like a perpetual and copious fountain, they shall flow forth in streams of righteousness, and diffuse blessings on every side, Isaiah 41:18; Isaiah 43:20; Isaiah 44:3.Joel 2:28; Joel 2:28.
2. The evangelist explains the meaning of Christ's words. This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive, in a more abundant and glorious manner than had been ever vouchsafed before: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, in that most plentiful effusion of his divine influences which was promised, Joe 2:28 because that Jesus was not yet glorified: and it was needful that he should first pass through his state of humiliation, and enter into his glory; when on the day of Pentecost the most astonishing out-pourings of the Spirit should attest the Saviour's exaltation; and not only the miraculous powers communicated by him should evidence the divine authority under which the apostles acted; but the strongest demonstrations of his power should accompany their preaching; and under the gospel dispensation the souls of those who were converted, should be filled with the largest measures of light, holiness, and joy.
3. The people were divided greatly in their sentiments concerning Christ. Many, struck with his divine teaching, could not help expressing their persuasion of his mission from God, as one of the prophets risen from the dead, as a forerunner of the Messiah. Others went farther; thinking him not the harbinger, but the king Messiah himself. But others, prejudiced by their national pride and false notions of the Messiah, objected that he came out of Galilee, whereas Christ was to descend from the lineage of David, and to come from Bethlehem, the residence of David's ancestors; as he did, though they knew it not. Thus, while the sentiments of the people were divided, the officers and his enemies, though they would fain have arrested him, were restrained by a divine power, and offered him no violence. Note; (1.) The gospel of Christ often creates great divisions; for, though it breathes nothing but peace, they who refuse to receive the truth, cannot but oppose it. (2.) Many flatter themselves that they have right on their side for want of examining into facts and evidence, when their conclusions would often be found utterly unsupported.
4thly, While the chief priests and Pharisees, as in duty bound, should have been in the temple, leading the devotions of the people, we find them maliciously consulting how to destroy the Lord of that sacred place, for which they professed so high a veneration.
1. The officers returned without the prisoner, and are sharply questioned, why they have not executed their orders. They honestly acknowledged that they could not; they were so overawed with the majesty of Jesus, and with the power and evidence of his discourse, that their hearts failed them. Never man spake like this man. Note; There is a power accompanying the preaching of the gospel, which has often disarmed the rage of the bitterest enemies, and made those bow down before the word of truth, who came to disturb the preacher.
2. The Pharisees with indignation upbraided them with their weakness. Are ye also deceived? Can men of your sense and rank be imposed on by such a delusion? Have any of the rulers, or of the Pharisees, believed on him? men of the greatest abilities, fashion, and reputation; the wisest and most devout? but this people, who knoweth not the law, the vulgar herd, are cursed, abandoned of God to every impostor, and through their ignorance of the law unable to judge of his pretensions. Note; (1.) Few of the rulers and Pharisees, the great men, and few of the self-righteous devotees who value themselves on their own goodness, ever embrace the gospel in its power. (2.) Many are prejudiced against the gospel, because they see the profession of it is unfashionable, and not the way of this world's preferment. (3.) It is common with this world's wise men to treat the poor disciples of Jesus as an ignorant, contemptible, deluded set of creatures; yet to the babes hath God revealed, what they, who boast of their superior wisdom, never knew. (4.) The causeless curse will not fail, but upon the head of him that utters it.
3. Nicodemus, who had visited Jesus by night, Ch. Joh 3:2 and was secretly a disciple, could not hear those infamous and unjust reflections, unmoved; and therefore, assuming courage, he remonstrated against their unreasonable and illegal manner of proceeding. They condemned unheard, contrary to all rules of justice and equity; whereas, at least, they should have given Christ an impartial hearing, and examined thoroughly into facts, before they decided on the merit of the case. Nothing could be more sensible and just than the maxim, but it does not appear that any seconded or supported the motion. Note; (1.) Christ has some who dare own his cause, even among the great and noble. (2.) It is highly wicked and unjust to condemn any man till he has had a fair hearing, and liberty to speak in his own defence.
4. Instead of refuting the force of his argument, they fell to reviling; Art thou also of Galilee? A disciple of this despicable Galilean? Search, and look; for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. They concluded that Jesus had been born in Galilee, because he had made it his chief abode; and as false was their assertion concerning the scriptures; for Jonah was of Galilee, and probably Nahum and Elijah also. Note; (1.) It is a sure sign of a bad cause, when men have recourse to abuse in the stead of argument. (2.) Many confidently appeal to the scriptures, as if it was the same thing to assert and prove; but we must examine for ourselves, and not take the scripture upon trust.
5. Hereupon the council separated, and each retired to his own home, unable to answer Nicodemus, and ashamed to proceed farther, where the injustice was so glaring. Note; One faithful man, who dares make a stand for Christ, will often silence and confound a whole company of gainsayers.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on John 7". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent