THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES.
The discourse in the synagogue at Capernaum occurred,
according to Andrews, in the spring of A. D. 29; the visit to Jerusalem
at the feast of Tabernacles, took place in the early autumn of the same
year. An interval of about six months lies between, concerning the history
of which John is silent. In order that the reader may rightly locate
the incidents of chapter VII., I will note the outlines of the Lord's
ministry, as given by the other Evangelists, for this period. After
the discourse at Capernaum, the Savior visited the coasts of Tyre and
Sidon, the only time in his ministry when he passed beyond the boundaries
of Israel to a Gentile country. Here he heals the daughter of the Syro-Phoenician
woman, and returning to the region of Decapolis, heals one with an impediment
in his speech, and afterwards feeds 4,000 persons. At Capernaum he comes
in contact with the Pharisees; soon after crosses the sea, and at Bethsaida
heals a blind man. From thence he goes, accompanied by his apostles,
to the neighborhood of Cesarea Philippi, and there occurs the remarkable
conversation in which Peter declares that "Jesus is the Christ the Son
of the living God," and the Lord, after commending Peter and declaring
that he shall be a stone or splinter of the Rock, affirms, "On this
Rock," the great foundation truth Peter had uttered, "I will build my
church, and the gates of the unseen world shall not prevail against
it." They were then in the vicinity of "a high mountain apart," Mt.
Hermon, the highest peak of Syria, and, ascending it, his heavenly glory
broke through the bonds of humanity, and he was transfigured in the
presence of his disciples. Following this remarkable event, henceforth
teaching his approaching death at Jerusalem, after healing a lunatic
child, paying the tribute money at Capernaum, and traversing Galilee,
teaching his disciples, he sets out to Jerusalem to attend the feast
Three times a year the whole adult population
of Judea was required to assemble at Jerusalem to attend the great feasts.
The finest seasons of the year, spring and autumn, were chosen for these
gatherings of the people. Separated into the various tribes, these annual
gatherings must have served to cement the bond of national unity and
establish acquaintance and friendship. Another advantage was the opportunity
of an interchange of sentiment on every subject of interest. Whatever
was an engrossing topic was sure to be discussed in the great assemblages.
Since the Savior had healed the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda, about
eighteen months before, there is no account that he had visited Jerusalem,
but the story of his wonderful teaching and works in Galilee was spread
broadcast over the land, and at this gathering at the feast of Tabernacles
the great question was whether he would come to the feast. Among the
vast crowds a search was made to know whether he was not present, but
when in the midst of the feast he suddenly appeared in the temple, not
only the multitude, but the temple authorities, seem to have been startled.
The feast of Tabernacles was instituted to commemorate
the time when the Israelites had dwelt in tents during their sojourn
in the desert. To bring vividly to remembrance the forty years of tent
life, the people were enjoined, during the seven days of the feast,
to dwell in huts made of the branches of trees. The flat house-tops
of the city were covered with these leafy bowers, which became the temporary
home of the family; while the open places and surrounding hills were
also occupied by the vast crowd of sojourners. The feast began on the
fifteenth of the month of Tisri, which this year answered to October
11th, and continued eight days, seven of which were spent in the leafy
huts. While it lasted the Jews gave themselves up to festivity and rejoicing.
There is a proverb: "He who has not seen the rejoicing at the pouring
out of the water of Siloam at the feast of Tabernacles has never seen
rejoicing in his life." For the time, manner, and reason of this feast,
see Lev. chapter 23.
It is a remarkable fact that after so long and
systematic an absence from Jerusalem, as eighteen months prior to this
feast, our Lord should attend every feast for the next six months, the
last of his ministry, in their order.--Greswell.
This feast was the last of the Jewish year, and
in some respects it was its crown of glory. Its characteristic was joyousness--(1)
For deliverance from Egypt; (2) For care in the wilderness--fit emblems
these, in every Christian experience, for deliverance from the bitter
bondage of sin, and for care in the heavenly ways.--Vincent.
1. After these things. After the discourse
in the synagogue at Capernaum. The report of "the Jews" to the authorities
at Jerusalem had intensified the enmity that had been created when the
man at the pool of Bethesda was healed, and the Savior refrained from
rushing into danger until "his time" had nearly come. Six months passed,
"after these things," before he went to the feast of Tabernacles, and
during this time he traveled and taught in Galilee. The Jews sought
to kill him. This illustrates the sense in which John uses the term
"Jews." Christ's disciples and friends were all Jews by race, but when
John wrote all disciples had merged their race distinctions into Christ
and were Christians. "The Jews" were still a hostile people, and when
the word is used without qualification it has this hostile sense.
2. Now the Jews' feast of Tabernacles was at
hand. It is spoken of as a feast that belonged to a stranger people.
This feast stood pre-eminent among the Jewish festivals. Josephus says
that it "was the holiest and greatest of their feasts." Occurring at
the vintage season, after the crops were garnered, it was a season of
thanksgiving. It fell from the 15th to the 22d days of the month Tisri,
covering the last part of September and first of October, and was about
six months after and before the passover. Its date, 
therefore, shows us that six months of Christ's ministry had intervened
between the discourse at Capernaum and this time. Matthew gives some
the details of this interval in chapters XII.-XVII., XXI.
3. His brethren, therefore, said unto him.
His brethren according to the flesh, whose names were James and Joses
and Simon and Jude (Matt. 13:55). For discussion of their relationship
to him, see notes on John 2:12. The
theory that they were his cousins, the sons of Alpheus and Mary, the
sister of the mother of Christ, is disproved by this passage: "James,
the son of Alpheus, and Jude the brother of James," were apostles and
believers, but "these brethren" at this time were not believers and
even seemed to be disposed to scoff. Depart hence and go into Judæa.
A year had passed since the Savior had been at Jerusalem, and his brothers
thought it inconsistent with his high claims that he should avoid the
national center of religious culture and influence. That thy disciples
also may see the works that thou doest. This language is partly
ridicule and partly entreaty. His brothers were astonished and puzzled,
but he was so different from their conception of the Christ that they
refused to believe. They insist that he shall go to Judea and show what
he can do.
4. For no man doeth anything in secret.
No prophet and inspired teacher. Such a teacher, they urge, seeks the
multitudes and there, in the most public manner, exhibits his supernatural
power. If thou do these things. If implies that they were
doubters. The next verse affirms that they were unbelievers. While the
counsel of these brothers, from a worldly point of view, might seem
wise, it is in another form the same counsel offered by the devil in
the second temptation, and spurned by our Lord.
5. For neither did his brethren believe in
him. It shows the stress to which those who hold the tradition that
the mother of our Lord always remained a virgin are put that they should
insist on a theory that requires three out of four of these unbelievers
to be apostles! A clear distinction is made here between "the brothers
of him" (Greek) and his disciples. The distinction is still clearer
in Matt. 12:47. They afterwards became believers (Acts 1:14).
6. My time is not yet come. The time for
the full manifestation of himself had not yet come. He had revealed
himself gradually, step by step, until his apostles had recognized and
declared him as the Christ, the Son of the living God (John 6:69; Matt.
16:16). He had satisfied the woman of Sychar that he was the Christ,
and had revealed himself in the synagogue at 
Capernaum, as the Bread of life. Three of his apostles had been
eye witnesses of his majesty on the Mount of Transfiguration, but the
time for the grand final lesson of the cross, the tomb, the resurrection
and the Ascension had not come. His presence in the church, in the hearts
of believers, as a power has gone on increasingly ever since, but his
full manifestation to the world does not take place until his second
coming, when "every eye shall see him." His disciples had to be prepared
for the manifestation of his divine Christhood to them; and the church
and world has to be prepared for his coming. Your time is always
ready. Those who have no set work are always ready, and the world
is always ready for those who have no message to it. He who has a work
must make ready for it. He who has a message for the world must educate
it to receive his message.
7. The world cannot hate you. In that case
it would hate those who had its spirit and were of it. It will not hate
itself. It only hates those who rebuke its sins and oppose its ways.
Me it hateth because I testify . . . the works thereof
are evil. It always hates those who expose and denounce its sins.
Socrates had to drink hemlock because he rebuked the folly of the Athenians;
Savonarola and Huss had to be burned because they exposed the corruptions
of Rome; Isaiah, Jeremiah and John the Baptist all suffered because
they denounced sin in high places; and when Jesus came exposing the
corruptions of the priests, the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, the worldliness
and debauchery of the Sadducees and Herodians, it was inevitable that
he should be hated, persecuted and hunted to death. Still the world
hates him. The hate of such men as Voltaire, Tom Paine and Ingersoll,
and of their disciples, is due to the fact that Christ and his kingdom
are a rebuke to, and condemnation of their lives.
8, 9. Go ye . . . I go not up yet to this feast.
A more literal translation is: "I am not now going to this feast." He
does not use the future but the present tense. We cannot be certain
whether he had yet determined to go at all. It would have defeated his
purpose to have gone with those who were determined that he should make
an exhibition of himself. Hence, after the departure of his brethren
and the great caravan of Galilean pilgrims, he yet remained in Galilee.
10. Then went he up also to the feast, not
openly. After the departure of the multitude of Galileans he followed
after, no doubt accompanied by his apostles, though we have no account
of the journey, unless it be referred to in Luke 9:51, 52. The journey
was made quietly, not clandestinely, but 
unostentatiously and in such a way as not to attract observation. As
Meyer says: "Not in company of a caravan of pilgrims, or in any other
way of outward observation, but so that the journey to the feast is
represented as made in secrecy, and consequently quite differently from
his last entry at the feast at the passover." He seems not to have reached
Jerusalem until after the feast was in progress.
11. Then the Jews sought him at the feast.
His fame had become so great that his appearance at this feast was looked
forward to with expectation, and the Jews were on the watch for him
in order to observe his conduct and hear his words. These Jews probably
sought him among the crowds who came from Galilee. They ask, as they
seek: "Where is he?" or rather, "that man." Only one man could be meant,
for all the land was busy with talk of the great Galilean teacher. The
question was probably about half curiosity and half ill will.
12. There was much murmuring among the people.
Muttering and secret discussion. By the people are meant the
multitudes. They must be kept in the mind as distinct from "the Jews."
This chapter brings out a vivid picture of Jewish life and of the various
elements that composed the nation. We have "the disciples" or personal
followers and believers in Christ; "his brethren," who were brothers
according to the flesh but were yet unbelievers; "the Jews," officials,
or those under official influence, and arrayed in opposition to Christ;
"the people," the vast body of the nation who were fined with marvel,
were not yet convinced, but were discussing the claims of Jesus; "the
Pharisees" (verse 32) here named by John for the first time as opposed
to the Lord; "the chief priests," the Sadducean hierarchy who hated
him, not for religious reasons like the Pharisees, but because they
were sensual, time-serving materiaIists; "the Pharisees and chief priests"
(verses 32 and 45), evidently the Sanhedrim; "Nicodemus" (verse 50),
a member of the Sanhedrim, but inclined favorably to Christ. The contact
with all of these is personal and direct. He deceiveth the people.
While some insisted that he was a good man, others urged that he was
leading the people astray.
13. No man spake openly. These discussions
were private rather than public. The people all felt that "the Jews,"
the ruling powers, were intensely opposed to Christ, and they feared
that open discussion would bring down evil upon themselves. Those who
held both opinions "mistrusted the hierarchy; even those of hostile
opinions were afraid, so long as the Sanhedrim had not given its official
decision, that their verdict might be reversed. A true indication of
an utterly Jesuitical domination of the people."--Meyer. 
JESUS IN THE TEMPLE.
14. About the midst of the feast. About
the middle. It lasted, altogether, eight days. This indicates the time,
probably, when Jesus reached Jerusalem. Bengel calculates that on this
year the middle of the feast would come on the Sabbath day; the temple
would, therefore, be unusually crowded, and the day itself would suggest
the remarks about the Sabbath which are found in verses 22, 23. Went
up into the temple and taught. He had come secretly and had refused
to make a show of himself, but he did not hesitate to proclaim his doctrine
in the most public manner. He seems to flash upon the Jewish multitude
on this occasion with the suddenness of the lightning flash. How he
came to Jerusalem, whether he dwelt in a leafy booth as others, whether
his voice was heard in the Hallel, we are not told. All we know is that
suddenly he presents himself in the temple, the very stronghold of his
Eighteen months had passed since he was last in
Jerusalem. Then, although the miracle at Bethesda had aroused a controversy
and had called for teaching, he had not presented himself as the public
teacher of Israel. Now, however, throwing off all concealment, and apparently
passing from extreme caution to the very verge of daring, he plants
himself in the temple and addresses the multitude in a capacity that
was assumed only by the oldest and most renowned Rabbis of Israel. Olshausen,
following Tholuck, thinks that the Savior on the Sabbath day, did not
merely teach in the open court, but delivered a formal discourse in
the synagogue which was situated in the court of the women. As the Lord
appears suddenly in the temple, on this great festal occasion, as a
public teacher, we are reminded of Malachi 3:1.
15. How knoweth this man letters? Jesus
had never studied in the great Jewish schools of theology. In the preceding
generation Hillel had presided over the school or university in which
all who became doctors of the law were expected to take their course.
At this time Gamaliel, a disciple of Hillel, had succeeded him in the
supervision of this renowned school. Here "letters," the written law,
and the unwritten interpretations and traditions, were made the subjects
of study. No person was expected to become a rabbin, a public teacher
of the synagogue or temple, until he had passed regularly through such
a course. Yet Jesus, who had never learned of any of the doctors, never
attended any of the rabbinical schools, now stood forth publicly in
the temple as a teacher of religion. The Jews "marvelled" at this, but
their question implies more. They question the right of one who had
not a Doctor's diploma to appear thus as a public teacher.
16. My doctrine is not mine. These words
are an answer to the question of the Jews. The Rabbis were wont to proclaim
of whom they "received"  their teaching.
Jesus declares that his is not human learning, was not learned in any
of the schools of men, but came from God.
17. If any man will do his will he shall know
the doctrine. Literally, "If any man wills to do his will," etc.
A willing obedience to the will of God is essential to knowledge where
Christ is a divine teacher. This does not promise that he who seeks
to obey the will of God shall be able to solve every difficulty of theology,
but it does promise that he will be able to know whether Christ taught
divine truth and is therefore the Savior of mankind. In other words,
the purpose to do God's will so clears the spiritual insight that the
soul will be able to recognize the nature and mission of Christ. If
this be true, unbelief originates in an indisposition to do the will
of God. The honest soul, eager to do God's will, will recognize Christ
as a divine teacher. I believe that the experience of humanity confirms
this declaration. I have never heard of one who devoutly sought to know
and do the will of God who remained in unbelief. As far as my observation
has gone skeptics have been more anxious to follow their own will than
the will of God. The antidote to unbelief is for the heart to say, not
my will but thine be done. Indeed, the conscience is not right before
God until there is a determination to do his will. Until that point
is reached there is not "the good and honest heart" in which the seed
of the word can germinate. In these words the Savior points out to the
Jews the spiritual difficulty in the way of their understanding his
claims. They were not willing, in spite of all their religious pretensions,
to do the will of God.
18. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his
own glory. The true teacher of men does not preach himself. Christ
came to speak of and exalt the Father. The true preacher hides his own
personality behind Christ. The general truth is stated. Whenever a preacher
is met who keeps himself prominently before his hearers he is not a
true man; but when one forgets himself in the message of his Lord "the
same is true." Egotism and the spirit of Christ are not in concord.
19. Did not Moses give you the law? I take
it that this remark is designed to convict the Jews of not "willing
to do the will of God." The law of Moses was recognized by them as the
will of God, yet they violated it. It commanded, "Thou shalt not kill,"
yet at that very time "the Jews" were plotting his death. 
20. The people answered. This answer is
not given by "the Jews," of whom the Savior's words were just spoken
(see verse 15), but by "the people," the great multitude of the nation
who were yet undecided. There were people standing there, "people of
Jerusalem" (verse 25), who knew of the plot to assassinate him, but
the great body of the people were probably ignorant of it and, therefore,
spoke honestly. It seemed to them so abhorrent that there should be
a purpose to murder him that they think that the error must have been
impressed on his mind by demoniacal influence. They mean nearly what
we would say if we were to say of one that he is under a delusion, or
is "mad." Hast a devil. See note on Demons
at the end of this chapter.
21. I have done one work, and ye all marvel.
Dropping the matter of their purpose to kill him, which time would reveal,
the Lord cites them to the marvellous work, which had aroused the first
purpose of "the Jews" to slay him. That work had taken place eighteen
months before, on the occasion of his last visit to Jerusalem (see
John Chap. V.). It had been performed on the Sabbath day, which
had, probably, caused them to marvel more, than that a man bound for
thirty-eight years should be made whole.
22. Moses gave you circumcision. The rite
of circumcision, given at first to Abraham, and therefore, "of the fathers,"
was a part of the Mosaic law. The child was to be circumcised on the
eighth day and if this came on the Sabbath, the day was disregarded
and the rite performed in order "that the law of Moses might not be
23. Are ye angry at me? The Rabbis said,
"Circumcision drives away the Sabbath." It was, they held, "of the fathers,"
a patriarchal institution, and therefore, of older date than the Sabbath,
which was of Moses; therefore, the Sabbath gave way before the duty
of attending to circumcision on the eighth day. The law of mercy was
older than either circumcision or the Sabbath; the Jews were, therefore,
inconsistent in their indignation against him because he had performed
an act of mercy, "made a man every whit whole, on the Sabbath day."
Mercy was God's eternal law.
24. Judge with righteous judgment. They
judged by "appearances" when they condemned Christ for healing on the
Sabbath, and forgot the eternal principles of righteousness. Sometimes
one law is broken in order to obey  a higher
law. They should always ask whether this was the case before they condemned,
and then "judge with righteous judgment."
25, 26. Then said some of them of Jerusalem.
There were hundreds of thousands of strangers in the city who would
know little of the purposes of "the Jews," but these residents of the
city would be more likely to know. They therefore express surprise that
he "whom they sought to kill" is speaking boldly. Do the rulers know
indeed that this is the very Christ? They are bewildered. They do
not either condemn or approve the purpose of the rulers, but they cannot
understand why it is not carried out. Is it possible that the rulers
have found out that this is the Christ? Does that explain their neglect
to carry out their purpose?
27. When Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence
he is. There was an expectation, probably due to Dan. 7:13, that
the Messiah would suddenly appear in Jerusalem without any one knowing
whence he came. These men, therefore, reason that this cannot be the
Christ because they knew from whence he was. They knew that he came
from Galilee and probably that his early home was at Nazareth, but were
ignorant of the fact that Bethlehem was his birthplace. Nor did they
know of his heavenly origin, so that it was literally true that the
Christ was before them and no man knew whence he came. It might be well
to add that the Jewish tradition held that Bethlehem would be the Messiah's
birthplace, but he would be caught away by spirits and tempests and
lie hidden until he should miraculously appear to enter upon his mission.
28. Ye both know me and know whence I am.
These words are directly suggested by their argument against his being
the Christ. There is a certain irony in the answer, as though he should
say: "You profess to know all about me, whence I came; yet if this were
true you would believe, for I came not of myself, but was sent by one
who is true; you do not even know who sent me." Whom ye know not.
They knew not God. Had they known him, recognized his true character,
they would have known Immanuel.
29. I know him. His knowledge was not that
of hearsay, but of experience, for he came from God. 
30. Then they sought to take him. The charge
that they were without the knowledge of God so angered them that they
sought to lay hands on him. "They of Jerusalem" are referred to. It
was the attempt of a mob. Because his hour was not yet come.
They were in some way restrained, perhaps by awe, and no man could yet
do him violence, for the set time had not come.
31. And many of the people believed on him.
Not "the Jews," or "they of Jerusalem," but the multitude. They were
convinced that he was a teacher from God and were ready to follow him,
though as yet not certain that he was the Christ. Hence they asked,
"When Christ comes will he do more miracles than this man does?" It
must be remembered that Jesus did not proclaim himself to be the Christ.
He demonstrated it by his works. His apostles already knew who he was;
the multitude had not yet learned.
32. The Pharisees heard that the people.
These active and watchful adversaries discovered that the people were
being convinced and thought it time to act. The most powerful and most
religious of the Jewish sects, they were the bitterest enemies of Christ.
Great sticklers for ceremonials, worshiping the letter of the law while
careless of its spirit, intensely Jewish and Mosaic, they were early
alarmed by the teaching of Christ (John 4:1), though this is the first
place where we have the positive declaration of the enmity of the sect
in the headquarters of ritualism. The Pharisees and chief priests.
This phrase describes the Sanhedrim, composed of the chief priests who
were Sadducees, and the leaders of the Pharisees. It is apparent that
the Sanhedrim was quickly called together, it was announced that Jesus
was in Jerusalem and teaching in the temple, also that the people were
moved by his doctrine and ready to acknowledge him; it was therefore
determined to send at once "the officers," temple guards always on service
within the sacred precincts and composed of Levites, to arrest him.
33, 34. Then Jesus said unto them. Now
he gives another part of his discourse. His first words show that he
is aware of the beginning of the end. He will not be arrested now for
"yet a little while I am with you," but the triumph of his enemies will
come shortly, for "I go to him who sent me," "and ye shall seek me and
not find me." This is very plain to us in the light of 
subsequent history, but it is not strange that his hearers on the
other side of the cross, did not understand.
35, 36. Then said the Jews. They could
not comprehend. Did he mean that he was going also to the Jews dispersed
among the Gentiles? Would he teach them and the Gentiles, as well as
the Jews of Judea and the Galileans? Their perplexity was genuine, but
as the Jews of Jerusalem looked with scorn on those dispersed abroad,
the insinuation is designed for a taunt. The question indicates the
scorn in which "the Jews" held all whose religious privileges were less
than their own. There was only a less degree of contempt for foreign
Jews and Galileans than for Gentiles. In verse 52 the contempt of Galilee
is indicated in the rebuke of Nicodemus. This contempt did not arise
so much from pride of blood, as from pride of superior sanctity and
religious learning. Jerusalem was then the great center of Rabbinical
learning, while the outlying districts were regarded unlettered and
scorned as the homes of ignorance. "If any one wishes to be rich, let
him go north; if he wishes to be wise, let him come south," was a saying
of the Rabbins. When Nathanael asked, "Can anything good come out of
Nazareth?" he only spoke in the spirit of the times. Puffed up with
the pride of Rabbinical learning, "the Jews" exhibited an offensive
contempt for all who could not be measured by their standard.
JESUS THE CHRIST.
37. On the last day, that great day of the
feast. Whether the great day, so emphatically mentioned, was the
seventh, or the eighth day, is a point that has been much discussed
and which cannot be certainly settled. There were seven active days
of the feast and the eighth was a day of holy rest. It is probable that
he to whom all the feasts of Israel pointed, chose this eighth day,
the last day, for the proclamation of himself as the hope and joy of
Israel. Seven days in tents commemorated the sojourn in the desert,
but the eighth day, it is supposed, was devoted more especially to rejoicing
and thanksgiving for the blessings of the year. It was a kind of "harvest
home." If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. Every
morning whilst the Israelites were gathered in the temple courts, one
of the priests brought water drawn in a golden urn from the pool of
Siloam, and amid the sounding of trumpets and other demonstrations of
joy,  poured the water upon the altar.
This rite is not mentioned in the Old Testament; but, as a commemoration
of the miraculous supply of water from the rock of Horeb in the wilderness,
it was in harmony with the spirit of the festival. The chanting of the
great Hallel (Ps. 113-118) celebrated the past, but the Talmud declares
that the Jews connected with this ceremony the words of Isaiah 12:3:
"Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation,"
and saw in it a type of the effusion of the Holy Spirit. It is held
that it is with reference to this pouring out of water, the Savior cried,
"If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink." Alford holds that
for seven days the water was poured every morning, but that on the eighth
there was a blank, and that then he invited them to the living water
which would really quench the thirst of the soul and not leave them
38. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture
hath said. Notice that "believing" corresponds to "coming" in the
preceding verse, showing that faith is the means that brings us to Christ.
The reference is not to any single passage, but to the spirit of the
Scripture, notably such passages as Isaiah 55:1; 58:11; Ps. 36:8, 9.
Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. Below the
spot on which Jesus stood while speaking in the temple courts, was a
vast reservoir of water. It is probably to this subterranean supply
Joel referred when he spoke of a fountain that "shall come forth from
the house of the Lord," and to which Zechariah alluded when he said
that "in that day living waters shall go out of Jerusalem." Christ now
shows that the living waters shall go forth because every one who drinks
shall himself become a fountain. It will be observed that the promise
takes a wider sweep. He who drinks shall not only never thirst but becomes
himself a running fountain, an unfailing supply of the waters of life.
Meyer says: "The mutual and inspired intercourse of Christians from
Pentecost downward, the speaking in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual
songs, the mutual edification of Christian assemblies by means of inspired
gifts, even to the speaking of tongues, the entire work of the apostles,
and the early evangelists, furnish an abundant commentary on this text."
Christ is the living water; he who believes upon Christ has Christ formed
within him, and hence must become a fountain to dispense the living
water wherever he goes.
39. This spake he of the Spirit, which they
that believe on him should receive. This declaration of John makes
the second chapter of Acts the best commentary on the preceding verse.
Luther says: "So St. Peter, by one sermon on the day of Pentecost, as
by a rushing of water, delivered three thousand men from the devil's
kingdom, washing them in an hour from sin, death and Satan." Because
Jesus was not yet glorified. Let it be noted, 1. That the Holy Spirit
was not given until after the death and ascension of Jesus. 2. The disciples
of Christ did not become "fountains of living water" until the Holy
Spirit was sent. This marks  Pentecost
as the beginning of the preaching of the gospel authoritatively by his
disciples. The sermon of Peter was the first sermon under the great
Commission, the first declaration of the conditions of the gospel, the
first preaching by men as "the Holy Spirit gave them utterance." It
was only after Jesus was glorified that he could send the Holy Spirit,
and on Pentecost it was declared, "He hath shed forth the things which
you do see and hear."
40. Of a truth this is the Prophet. There
were conflicting views among those who listened to him. Some of these
impressions are now given. Some said he was "the Prophet," spoken of
in Deut. 18:15, and referred to in John 1:15. All agreed that a prophet
was to come at the Messianic period, but some held that he was to be
the Messiah himself, and others that he was to be the forerunner. Hence
the deputation of the Sanhedrim put three questions to John: "Art thou
Elias? Art thou that prophet? Art thou the Christ?"
41. Others said, This is the Christ. Others
asserted that he was the Christ. The opponents denied this and based
their opposition, not upon his character, or his teaching, but upon
the fact that he came from Galilee. Jesus, reared at Nazareth, coming
to Jerusalem from Galilee, was supposed by the Jews to have been born
there, and they were well aware of the fact that Christ was to be born
42. Christ cometh of the seed of David, and
from Bethlehem. Even the Talmud explains Micah 5:2, as declaring
that Bethlehem should be Christ's birthplace. The wise men who came
to Jerusalem seeking the young Babe heard the same thing from the priests.
Nor was anything more clearly predicted than that he should be of the
seed of David. See on this Isaiah 11:1; Jer. 23:5; Ps. 89:36.
43. So there was a division among the people.
The Greek word for division is schism, or implies a violent split.
They were rent into two parties and there was fierce contention.
44. Some of them would have taken him.
In the heat and bitter animosity of the dispute some were eager to lay
violent hands on him. For a year and a half the Jewish leaders had been
looking for a pretext to seize him, and when he appeared at this feast
they sought to carry out their purposes. Though officers were sent to
apprehend him, and a mob was ready to seize him, yet "no man laid hands
on him," "for his hour was not yet come." 
45. Then came the officers to the chief priests
and Pharisees. These were the temple police, Levites under the direction
of the chief priests. In verse 32 we are told that the chief priests,
instigated by the Pharisees, had sent the officers to arrest him. This
was the act of the Sanhedrim, and was the first official attempt to
arrest him, the beginning of the course that resulted, six months later,
in the final arrest, trial and crucifixion. These officers returned
without the expected prisoner, and the reason was demanded by the Sanhedrim
which was in session, apparently waiting for their return.
46. Never man spake like this man. The
only answer the officers could make to the demand why they had not carried
out orders was, "Man never spake like this man." The multitude had not
overawed them, but the words of Christ. There is no stronger testimony
to the moral power of the presence of Christ than this confession of
the rough temple police. "To listen to him was not only to be disarmed
in every attempt against him, but it was even to be half converted from
bitter enemies to awe-struck disciples."
47, 48. Then answered the Pharisees. . . .
. Have any of the rulers, etc.? The Pharisees, always the bitterest
foes of Christ, charge the officers in language of scorn. Have any of
the rulers believed? By rulers are meant the Sanhedrim. In the matter
of deciding on the claims of the Messiah they hold that the judgment
of the "rulers" must be decisive. They were not probably aware that
Nicodemus was really in secret a believer, and that another "senator,"
Joseph, would reveal himself at the proper time. At this time the Pharisees
controlled the Sanhedrim.
49. This people . . . are accursed. Their
argument was, "Not the Sanhedrim, not the powerful and religious Pharisees,
but the rabble are the believers upon him. They are utterly ignorant
of the law and are accursed. On account of their ignorance they are
easily led astray."
50. Nicodemus said. It was a "ruler" who
now spoke. The impression made on Nicodemus in that night interview,
long before, had been permanent.
51. Doth our law judge any man before it hear
him? There is a keen sarcasm in this question. Of course it did
not, yet they who boasted of their knowledge of the 
law, were breaking it in their blind rage. The answer of the Pharisees
shows that the question of Nicodemus cut to the quick. Instead of a
direct answer they reply with a sneer.
52. Art thou also of Galilee? Are you a
follower of the Galilean? Then they assert, "Out of Galilee hath arisen
no prophet;" a false statement. Jonah was of Galilee (2 Kings 14:25);
Elijah probably so (1 Kings 17:1), and Nahum, also (Nahum 1:1). In their
scorn of Galilee they held it impossible that a man of God could come
out of that province. With such recrimination the session of the Sanhedrim
1. If any man thirst. In those hot and
arid regions there is no fiercer want than thirst and no greater blessing
than the cool draught of water. The Savior knew that there was a thirst
no earthly fountain could satisfy, a deep inward thirst that dries up
the spirit. Such he bids to come and drink.
2. A condition of coming to the living fountain
is thirst. "Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." "If
any thirst, let him come." "Come ye that are weary and heavy laden."
There must be a felt need of Christ, before anyone can come to him.
If the world satisfies the soul it has no room for Christ.
3. Those who drink must become flowing fountains.
Moses struck the rock of Horeb and it flowed in a living stream. Christ
strikes our barren hearts and lives and they flow forth in his love,
a stream of life to others. Those who have eternal life must lead others
to eternal life.
4. There is no ignorance so deep as the ignorance
that will not know; no blindness so incurable as the blindness that
will not see. And the dogmatism of a narrow and stolid prejudice which
believes itself to be theological learning is, of all others, the most
ignorant and blind. Such was the spirit in which, ignoring the mild
justice of Nicodemus, and the marvellous impression made by Jesus on
their own officers, the majority of the Sanhedrim broke up, and went
each to his own home.--Farrar.
5. When the Interpreter had done, he takes them
out into his garden again, and led them to a tree whose inside was all
rotten and gone; and yet it grew and had leaves. Then said Mercy, "What
means this?"--"This tree," said he, "whose outside is fair, and whose
inside is rotten, is it to which many may be compared that are in the
garden of God; who with their mouths speak high in behalf of God, but
in deed will do nothing for him; whose leaves are fair, but their heart
good for nothing but to be tinder for the devil's tinder-box."--Bunyan's
Pilgrim's Progress. 
NOTE ON DEMONS.
While John does not give a single account of the
casting out of devils, or demons more correctly, he refers in no less
than four places to demoniac possession. In chapter 7:20, the multitude
exclaim, "Thou hast a devil (demon): who goeth about to kill thee?"
In 8:48, his enemies insult him by declaring: "Thou art a Samaritan
and hast a devil." In 8:52, they exclaim: "Now we know thou hast a devil,"
and in 10:20, they say, "He hath a devil and is mad." In all these places
the Greek term is demon (daimonion), not devil (diabolos).
It is the same term that is constantly used by the other Evangelists
when they speak of demoniac possession. The subject is one that requires,
to a correct understanding, more than a brief note, and I will add the
substance, condensed, of what has been said by Trench (Miracles),
Alford and Smith (Dictionary of the Bible) upon the subject.
There has been presented no less than three theories of demoniacal possession:
1. Strauss and his school hold that there was nothing of the kind and
that all language that seems to imply it is to be spiritualized. The
possession of devils is only a lively symbol of the prevalence and power
of evil in the world, and the casting out of devils is a corresponding
symbol of our Lord's conquest of evil by his spiritual power. This theory
is a part of that mythical explanation of everything miraculous in the
life of Christ of which Strauss is the expounder. It is a sufficient
answer to say that it is utterly inconsistent with the plain, matter
of fact narratives of the New Testament. 2. The second theory holds
that our Lord found a general belief in demoniacal agency, which attributed
to demons various diseases, including some forms of lunacy, and epilepsy,
that he did not combat this belief, but healed the diseases by miraculous
power, and that there is really no such thing as demoniacal possession.
The principal argument advanced is that we are not able to discover
demoniac possession now, and hence, we ought to conclude there never
was anything of the kind. To this view I will let Alford answer: (1)
The Gospel narratives are distinctly pledged to the historic truth
of these occurrences. Either they are true, or the Gospels are false.
The accounts are too explicit, the details are given too fully, and
the recognition of the demons by the Savior is too clear to admit of
doubt. (2) Not only are the "demons," "evil spirits," "unclean spirits"
recognized by the writers of the Gospels, but by the Savior himself.
He speaks of them, to them, and commands them. His recognition is such
that he has given testimony to their reality. If they are unreal he
did that which is wholly at variance with the Christian idea of truthfulness.
(3) The possession by demons was more than bodily disease. It is distinguished
from sickness, lunacy and palsy by all being mentioned together (Matt.
4:24). It is shown not to be epilepsy by the spirits recognizing Jesus
as the Son of God, pleading with him not to torment them before their
time, speaking of their number, and passing from men into a herd of
swine. It is shown to be a demoniac power by emphasis of the need of
great spiritual power to control it (Matt. 9:29). (4) As to the statement
that there is no such thing now that cannot be proved. One of the miraculous
gifts was "discerning of spirits," and it is possible if this gift was
restored we would be able to explain many a mysterious case by reference
to this cause. It is  known that insanity
often cannot be traced to any physical cause and there are cases that
can be explained most easily by reference to such a possession. We often,
too, meet with cases where there seems, as in the possessed of the New
Testament, to be a kind of a double will power, a feeble struggling
against some force that sustains the man and leads him to a life that
his other nature abhors. Perhaps, too, there may sometimes be something
in the claims of writing and trance mediums, who insist that they are
controlled by spirits. There are millions who believe in spiritualism,
and it may not be entirely delusion. If there is any basis for their
belief the whole system is ancient demonology in our age. Still it is
not strange if demons should have less power now than 1800 years ago.
Then was the "hour and power of darkness." The leaven of Christianity
has been infusing itself through the world and has, no doubt, immensely
limited the power of Satan.
3. What is this possession? The demons
are described as "evil spirits," "unclean spirits," "the powers of the
air," etc. Satan, the same as Beelzebub, is spoken of as the "prince
of demons." He, a fallen angel, drew after him "angels that kept not
their first estate" and is the spiritual chief of a realm of wicked
spirits. These, doing his bidding, when they find a human heart prepared
for their reception, enter in, take possession, sway the will and control
the actions of the unfortunate being. The possession sometimes manifests
itself in physical, and sometimes also in mental infirmities, nor can
we reject the existence of demons unless we deny the existence of the
world of spirits altogether.