The Unbelief of Christ’s Relatives. John 7, 1-9.

The sneers of unbelief: V. 1. After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill Him. V. 2. Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. V. 3. His brethren therefore said unto Him, Depart hence and go into Judea that Thy disciples also may see the works that Thou doest; V. 4. for there is no man that doeth anything in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If Thou do these things, show Thyself to the world. V. 5. F or neither did His brethren believe in Him. The evangelist includes a space of about six months in one short sentence. Jesus had been at Jerusalem for the Feast of Purim, returning immediately to Galilee, where He delivered His great sermon on the Bread of Life, after the feeding of the five thousand. He remained in Galilee on account of the open hostility of the Jewish leaders in Judea, for it was an open secret that they were seeking to take His life. Meanwhile, however, the Feast of Tabernacles was approaching. This was the third great festival of the Jewish calendar, a great harvest festival, with special reference to the sojourn of the children of Israel in the wilderness. It was held on the 15th day of the seventh month, Tishri or Ethanim (October), and lasted seven days. The first day was a Sabbath with an holy convocation, and also the eighth day. Being the last harvest feast of thankfulness, it was the most joyous of all festive seasons in Israel. All the people erected booths made of boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm-trees, and the boughs of thick trees and willows of the brook, Lev. 23, 40. Christ's brothers (half-brothers, cousins) took the opportunity to jeer at Him. A prophet of the Jews would be expected to perform his ministry, not in far-away Galilee, which was still known as the Galilee of the Gentiles, but in Jerusalem. Since Jesus therefore openly made the claim that He was a great Prophet, these brothers sneeringly urged Him to go to Judea and there publicly, before the whole world, reveal Himself as the King of Israel. His disciples would then also have a further chance to see miracles which He would perform in the capital to establish His position. The brothers of Jesus try to back up their challenge with a common saying, that no one does things in secret and then demands public recognition. Their argument was that He should not confine His activities to hidden and far-away corners, if He wanted to be accepted as the Messiah. He should show Himself and His miracles in public, before the whole world. The brothers of Jesus thus revealed their unbelief in Him and His work.

The refusal of Jesus: V. 6. Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come, but your time is alway ready. V. 7. The world cannot hate you; but Me it hateth because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil. V. 8. Go ye up unto this feast; I go not up yet unto this feast; for My time is not yet full come. V. 9. When He had said these words unto them, He abode still in Galilee. Jesus refused to listen to the proposals of His brothers. His time for revealing Himself publicly, especially in the manner which their suggestion implied, had not yet come. In the sense of their words He never wanted to become King of Israel, a temporal, earthly ruler. In His own way and at His own time He wanted to reveal Himself as the Son of God and the Savior of the world. But for His brothers it was always time to show themselves before the world. In the disposition which they exhibited at that time, they fitted in very well with the other mockers and scoffers. They were in no danger, for they were among friends in Jerusalem. The world, the wicked, hostile Jewish leaders, could not hate the brothers, for they shared the same opinion, they adhered to the same idea. But the testimony of Jesus concerning the works of this same world branded Him in their eyes as an enemy, whom they therefore hated with all the intensity of the hatred of darkness for the light. If Jesus had merely referred to notorious sins, blasphemy, murder, robbery, adultery, the leaders of the Jews would have agreed with Him readily, holding up, at the same time, pious hands in sanctimonious horror over the depravity of the rabble. But since Jesus points a revealing finger at them and rebukes their hypocrisy and lack of true charity, they are scandalized at His insinuations, and all the more, since their own consciences could not gainsay His words. As long as a preacher speaks in general terms of depravity and sin, the assenting nods come from all directions, but when he makes the application to the individual, hidden sins and holds forth on the personal responsibility, the situation changes very quickly. But Jesus urged His brothers to go up to Jerusalem, to attend to their duty as members of the Jewish Church. His time for manifesting Himself publicly had not yet come, and He did not wish to go up for the display which they believed He should make in establishing His claims. For the time being, He stayed in Galilee.

Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles. John 1, 10-53.

The murmuring concerning Jesus: V. 10. But when His brethren were gone up, then went He also up unto the feast, not openly, but, as it were, in secret. V. 11. Then the Jews sought Him at the feast and said, Where is He? V. 12. And there was much murmuring among the people concerning Him; for some said, He is a good man; others said, Nay; but He deceiveth the people. V. 13. Howbeit no man spake openly of Him for fear of the Jews. Jesus let His brothers, with their peculiar ideas concerning Messianic revelations, go up to the capital alone. But after they were gone, He started out on His journey to the feast, with none of the publicity which they had recommended. It was for that reason that He had refused to go with them openly, because the attention which it would draw on the way and on His arrival in Jerusalem would not be beneficial to the cause. He went secretly, in order not to cause excitement and to irritate the Jews into such a mental condition that they would carry out their murderous design at once. The object of His journey was only to teach in Jerusalem once more, to preach the Gospel of redemption through His Word and work. But many of the Jews were expecting Him; they were making inquiries concerning Him and His whereabouts. But all this was done quietly, in order not to arouse attention. Even the disputatious murmuring and wrangling concerning Him and His work was done under cover. Some in the multitude took His part, considering Him' a good man, whose intentions could not be bad; others just as vehemently denounced Him as a seducer and deceiver of the people. But all this had to be done in strict secrecy; their discussions had to be suppressed and be carried on in low tones. All waited for the authorities of the Church to give their decision. Note: The unbelievers of all times may be classified in much the same manner as in this passage. The one class believes Jesus to be a champion of virtue, the other holds the opinion that He is a deliberate liar and cheat.

The appearance of Jesus at the festival: V. 14. Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the Temple and taught. V. 15. And the Jews marveled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? V. 16. Jesus answered them and said, My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me. V. 17. If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself. V. 18. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory; but He that seeketh His glory that sent Him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. V. 19. Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you keepeth the Law? Why go ye about to kill Me? Since the atmosphere was now cleared of any danger of a carnal uprising, Jesus felt no hesitation about going up to the Temple about the middle of the festival-week and doing His work as Teacher, attending to the duties of His prophetic office. He did this in the face of Jewish hostility, because it was part of the labor of love which He had come to perform, though His human nature may have had scruples and fears. "St. John describes this for consolation, that no one should concern himself about it and worry, if God gives Himself the semblance of weakness and the world glories and boasts; you must get used to it; also, if the Christians, but especially the preachers, are weak and shy, and their adversaries, the great, powerful men, paw and threaten. That is nothing new, and it does not happen only to us, but the prophets and apostles had the same experience that they seemed weak before the tyrants, but in their weakness they were strongest; yea, it happened thus even to Christ the Lord, who is a Lord of all prophets and apostles. He feigns weakness, just as though He wanted to give up His office of preaching and not be obedient to God, and as though He were badly terrified; while He, in that same weakness, went directly forward."37) Not only the fact that Jesus taught, but especially the content of His teaching surprised the Jews. They asked one another where this man had gotten His knowledge. He had not taken the course which was prescribed for the regular scribes and rabbis, and yet He could teach. "The Jewish learning consisted in the knowledge of their own Scriptures and the traditions of their elders. In this learning our blessed Lord excelled. No person ever spoke with more grace and dignity, or knew better how to make a more proper use, or a happier application, of Jewish allegories and parables; because none ever penetrated the sense of the Scriptures as He did; none ever cited them more successfully, or ever showed their accomplishment in so complete and satisfactory a manner. As these branches of learning were taught at the Jewish schools, and our Lord had never attended there, they were astonished to find Him excelling in that sort of learning, of which they themselves professed to be the sole teachers."38) Jesus gave the Jews an explanation of this wonderful feat. The teaching which He delivered before them had its source not in His own knowledge, but in Him that sent Him. He was not giving them a summary of human ideas and philosophy, but the eterna1 truth of His heavenly Father. Note the careful way in which Christ expresses Himself: it is His doctrine, and yet it is not His doctrine. What He was teaching was the truth, and He delivered it with the firm conviction of its eternal truth; and incidentally it was the revelation of the innermost essence of God. This same conviction must live in the heart of every true preacher of the Gospel. "In the same manner I say also: The Gospel is mine, to distinguish it from the doctrine of all other preachers that otherwise do not hold my doctrine. Therefore I say: This is mine, Luther's, doctrine; and yet I say also: It is not my doctrine, it is not in my hand, but it is the gift of God. For I did not invent it out of my head, it did not grow in my garden, nor bubble up out of my fountain, nor was it born out of me; but it is God's gift, and not an invention of men. Thus both sayings are true: The doctrine is mine, and yet it is not mine, for it is God's, the heavenly Father's, and yet I preach and teach such doctrine." 39)

Jesus now suggests to the Jews a test by which they may tryout the truth of His doctrine. The Jews were always boasting of the Law, of the will of God. Here was a chance to put the claims of Jesus to a test. They should take the will of God and earnestly begin the practice of it, they should bend all their efforts toward fulfilling the Law. The first result of such endeavor would be that they must realize their utter inability to keep it properly. Every one that tries to merit salvation by keeping the will of God in the Law will soon come to the conclusion that it is beyond human ability. Only the doctrine of Jesus, the Gospel, will give strength to fulfil the will of God. And there from will follow the second conclusion, that. the doctrine of Jesus must be from God, that He has divine authority for His teaching and does not present His own philosophy. Jesus here places Himself in direct contrast to preachers that preach their own wisdom. There are such that preach their own mind, teach their own ideas, and they have only one aim: they strive after their own glory. That is true of all the modern so-called preachers that feed the people the husks of their own religious systems, that, have discourses on every question under the sun but that which has reference to the salvation of their hearers. There is no honor and glory before men in preaching the old-fashioned Gospel of the forgiveness of sins through the merits of Christ, and therefore these preachers select such topics as will give them opportunity to display their wit or their learning, or the absence of both. They want a great name before men, and cheap notoriety they usually achieve. But with Christ (and with all true Christian preachers) it is different. Christ is seeking the glory of God, therefore He is true, sure, faithful, dependable, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. Only one that leads a morally blameless life is properly a preacher of divine truth, only he will work in the right manner for the glory of God. But the Jews, far from practicing the will of God and living up to its injunctions, did not keep the Law. Their leaders were even then making plans to remove Jesus, to put Him out of the way by murdering Him. The Jews are a picture of all self-righteous people in the world. They insist upon outward order, piety and right moral living, but they are opposed to the doctrine of Christ. But this attitude proves that they are not sincere in their pretensions. If they would make an honest effort to fulfill the entire Law in all its mandates and implications, they would find out how utterly helpless they are, and would turn to the Gospel as the one means of salvation. It is only he that accepts the Gospel and believes its glorious message that can hope in any way to fulfill the will of God.

A reference to the healing of the sick man: V. 20. The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil; who goeth about to kill Thee? V. 21. Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel. V. 22. Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the Sabbath-day circumcise a man. V. 23. If a man on the Sabbath-day receive circumcision that the Law of Moses should not be broken, are ye angry at Me because I have made a man every whit whole on the Sabbath-day? V. 24. Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. The remarks of Jesus were directed principally to the leaders of the Jews, some of whom were always present whenever He taught. The fact that the Lord read their thoughts so easily and openly accused them of their heinous intention aroused the Jews. Their bad conscience prompted them to deny vociferously and vehemently that they had harbored such intention. They told Him that He must be possessed with an evil spirit even to insinuate such a thing. But Jesus refuses to be turned aside from His argument. He knows exactly when their hostility entered into this stage. A matter of six months ago He performed one single miracle, on account of which they were astonished and, offended; it was His healing of the man on the Sabbath. But they were to take their own case. They had the rite of circumcision, an ordinance which went beyond Moses, to the patriarchs, but which Moses formally codified. This rite continued through all their generations and regularly set aside the Sabbath law. For circumcision involved an act, a work, and yet it was performed on the Sabbath. if the time so required. This was not considered a breaking of the Sabbath law, because the Jewish baby was thereby received into the congregation. In the case of circumcision it was only ceremonial purity which was effected, but Jesus had made the whole man well on the Sabbath. He therefore scored the sanctimoniousness of the Jews in emphasizing the out. ward observance of the Sabbath, while they actually transgressed the letter of the Law with every Sabbath circumcision, and then threw up their hands in horror at the great benefit which Christ had granted to the sick man on the Sabbath. Such sanctimonious exclusiveness is the very essence of hypocrisy and lacks altogether that mercy which the Lord demands rather than sacrifice. The Lord therefore tells them that they should consider and weigh the facts of the evidence properly. They should not judge according to appearances, as matters appear on the surface, at first glance. A righteous and true judgment depends upon careful consideration and weighing of all evidence. This same argument should be used against the fanatics of all kinds in our days. They have, in regard to many questions, lost all sense of proportion and must be reminded of the fundamental principles

The origin of Jesus: V. 25. Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this He whom they seek to kill? V. 26. But, lo, He speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ? V. 27. Howbeit we know this man whence He is; but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence He is. V. 28. Then cried Jesus in the Temple as He taught, saying, Ye both know Me, and ye know whence I am; and I am not come of Myself, but He that sent Me is true, whom ye know not. V. 29. But I know Him; for I am from Him, and He hath sent Me. V. 30. Then they sought to take Him; but no man laid hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come. A diversion was created at this point by the inquiry of some local people that may have come upon the scene at that moment. They were surprised at Christ's teaching so openly. He was surely the man whom the chief men in the nation had sought to kill and were even then planning to put out of the way. The inference was that the rulers had been convinced as to the truth of Christ's claims and were reconsidering their intention of putting Him to death. But this idea, in turn, is dismissed, as the babblers continue to express their conviction that they knew the origin of this man who was teaching before them; but concerning the Christ, the Messiah, the supposition had gained ground that no one would know whence He would come. This idea was due to a misunderstanding of some Old Testament passages referring to the eternity of the Messiah and to sections of apocryphal literature which were circulating among the Jews in those days. In this man Jesus they saw nothing miraculous. His powerful testimony of His heavenly origin they did not believe, and the miracles which He did in healing the sick were insignificant in their eyes. Their position is shared by a great many modern critics, the foolishness of whose reason renders them just as blind. Jesus, in the midst of this excited babel of voices, purposely cried out loudly at this point, to attract attention to Himself and to His words. For the sake of getting their interest, He places Himself on their side. They thought they knew whence He was; a bit of scornful irony. Their entire ideas concerning the Messiah were indistinct and hazy, and just as foolish were their conjectures as to His origin. They should know that Jesus did not presume upon the mission which He is now trying to fulfill. It is in truth and beyond all doubt God that sent Him. But of the essence of this God, the heavenly Father, they had not the faintest idea in spite of all their boasting. He that does not know the Son cannot understand the essence of the Father. Jesus is well acquainted with the Father, for He has His ministry, His ambassadorship, from Him. For the Jews to draw this conclusion from their knowledge of Christ's origin that He was a self-constituted prophet and therefore not the Messiah, is to make the biggest mistake that is possible in the wide world. This frank statement again made the Jews angry; they sought to seize Him; their hands fairly itched to be laid upon Him in revenging fury. But they were held back by a power that lamed their hands, for the hour of Jesus bad not yet come. The time when He should enter into the glory of His Father by the path of suffering and death was not yet at hand. The enemies of Christ can do nothing unless God gives them permission.

The anxiety of the Pharisees: V. 31. And many of the people believed on Him and said, When Christ cometh, will He do more miracles than these which this man hath done? V. 32. The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning Him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him. V. 33. Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto Him that sent Me. V. 34. Ye shall seek Me, and shall not find Me; and where I am, thither ye cannot come. V. 35. Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will He go that we shall not find Him? Will He go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles? V. 36. What manner of saying is this that He said, Ye shall seek Me, and shall not find Me; and where I am, thither ye cannot come? The immediate result of Christ's testimony regarding Himself was that He gained believers, disciples, people who were sure that, should Christ come later, as the rulers were trying to make the Jews believe, He would not be able to do greater miracles than this man. The Word of God is never without fruit. There are always some that are converted by the power of its arguments, even if the majority of men in the world thrust their salvation from them. But now the word was passed to the Pharisees that many people were yielding to the persuasion of Christ's preaching, that they were spreading their conviction in covert discussions and gaining new adherents. This state of affairs displeased them very highly, and they immediately brought the matter to the attention of the Sanhedrin for quick action. The result was that servants, very likely members of the Temple-guard, were dispatched to apprehend Jesus. The purpose of the Jewish rulers was actually to arrest Jesus and thus to put an end to His teaching. But Jesus, in the presence of these very men that came to arrest Him, continued His testimony. It would be only a short while, until His earthly work would be accomplished, until His work as Substitute for all mankind on earth would be finished. But when the salvation would have been gained, then He would return to His heavenly Father, who had sent and commissioned Him for His great work. It was an urgent invitation to all hearers to make use of the short time of grace still remaining. For the hour would come, as Jesus warningly calls out to them, that they would seek Him, incidentally reproaching themselves bitterly for their blindness. Cp. Luke 23, 29. 30. In the midst of the terrors preceding the final destruction of Jerusalem the Jews clung with the hope of despair to the promise of their foolish leaders that the Messiah would yet come to liberate them. But it was a delusion and a false hope. It was too late. They had rejected the true Messiah and could expect no salvation from one that was false. Every person that neglects the time and opportunity when salvation and mercy is offered to him will receive his punishment in this way, that he will realize his folly when it is too late, when Christ has withdrawn from him and he vainly curses his rejection of the salvation earned for him also. The Lord tells the Jews that it will be impossible for them to come to the place where He would be at that time. They cannot follow Him, cannot enter into heaven to seek Him. No unbeliever can expect to enter into heaven, if he consistently rejects Jesus and His mercy; the place of eternal bliss and glory will be altogether inaccessible to him. The Jews again did not understand the Savior. Their minds were so steeped in their carnal understanding of the teaching which they usually heard that they had lost the ability to penetrate into spiritual matters. They foolishly conjectured that His going away meant that He intended to visit the Jews that lived in the so-called Diaspora, in other countries outside of Palestine, in Egypt, Asia Minor, and elsewhere, and that He probably would try to have the Gentiles accept His doctrine, since He had such little success with His own countrymen. Their entire talk was intended as mockery, but it proved to contain a grain of truth, and was in a manner of speaking prophetical. It actually did happen as the Jews here jeeringly intimated. Since they rejected the Word of salvation, the Lord turned to the Gentiles and issued to them the full and free call to redemption in His blood. And as for these scoffers, they soon found out, they and their children, that God is not mocked.

Jesus the Living Water: V. 37. In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink. V. 38. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. V. 39. (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.) It was on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the "day of the great Hosannah,” on which the leaves of the willows and the other branches that had been used for the building of the booths were shaken off and the palm branches were waved against the altar, when the priests went around the altar seven times in a procession of thankfulness, and when a priest was commissioned to get a pitcher of water from the pool of Siloam and then pour it out at the side of the altar. All these ceremonies had been introduced in the course of time, and the Jewish teachers had explained some of them, especially the last, as a symbol which would find its fulfillment in the days of the Messiah. The proclamation of Jesus at this point was therefore very important and significant. He not only applied the words Is. 12, 3 to Himself, but indicated that all other prophecies which were connected with this festival had found their fulfillment in Him. The water of the pool of Siloam was considered living water, since it was replenished from time to time by means of a natural siphon from a spring in the rock. But, after all, it was only earthly water, which could quench the thirst for only a short while. But those whose soul thirsts for God, as the hart panteth after the waterbrooks, Ps. 42, 1. 2, must go to the Savior for their soul's refreshment. For in the salvation earned through Christ's Passion and death there is full satisfaction for the desire of all humble souls for mercy and forgiveness. Jesus is the fountain of living water, for in Him there is true, everlasting life. Every one that accepts Him and His salvation will never again be tortured with thirst, for he will possess the fullness of God's mercy. And that is not all. The believer will himself become a fountain of living water, Is. 58, 11; 44, 3. The Spirit, who has entered into his heart in regeneration, has worked spiritual life in him. This life daily gains in strength and willingness. It must manifest itself in deeds of the Spirit, in good works. There will daily be a new and full supply of knowledge and love, through the work of the Holy Spirit, given to all believers. At that time indeed the great revelation of the Spirit, the Pentecostal miracle, had not yet taken place; Jesus had not yet finished His earthly work, to enter into the glory of His Father. But the work of the Spirit in the Word is efficient at all times; sanctification is His peculiar office and ministry. The Spirit has now been revealed as He that glorified Christ. We have a greater measure of His manifestations in our days than the believers of the Old Testament had, Joel 2, 28. "At the time when Jesus preached, He promised the Holy Spirit, and therefore the Holy Spirit was not yet there; not that He was not in existence in His nature, in heaven, but that He was not manifested in His revelation and in His work. For that is the special work and office of the Holy Spirit that He reveal and glorify Christ, that He preach and give testimony concerning Him. This office was then not yet in active working; the office of glorifying Christ the Lord was not yet in use, that is, the preaching of the forgiveness of sins, and how one may be delivered from death, have comfort and joy in Christ, that it concerns us: all this was at that time unheard of and not mentioned; that deliverance, salvation, righteousness, joy, and life should be given us through that man, Christ, whom people did not know at that time." 40)

The effect of the sermon: V. 40. Many of the people, therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. V. 41. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? V. 42. Hath not the Scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David; and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? V. 43. So there was a division among the people because of Him. V. 44. And some of them would have taken Him; but no man laid hands on Him. Both the words and the manner of Jesus upon this occasion made a profound impression, but the people were impressed in various ways. Some of them were ready to believe that He was that great prophet of whom Moses had prophesied, Deut. 18, 15, whom they did not identify with the Messiah. Others had gained the conviction that He must be the Christ Himself. That was a fine confession of faith. But others were present that ridiculed His Galilean ancestry, as they believed that Jesus had been born in Galilee. They were familiar with the prophecy according to which the Messiah was to be born at Bethlehem, and their assumption as to His Galilean derivation clashed with this prophecy. So public opinion was divided on this occasion. Note: Whenever there is a difference of opinion in regard to the person and office of Christ, or in regard to any doctrine of the Gospel, the reason is not to be sought on the part of Jesus, but in the perverse understanding of man. A careful searching of Scriptures and a diligent comparison of the various parts of Scriptures will always result in absolute clearness with regard to all the doctrines which are necessary for salvation. Where this is not done, the judgment pronounced upon unbelievers will strike such people, and their understanding will be darkened all the more with the passing of time. Some of the Jews in the multitude were so hardened to the proclamation of the Gospel that they wanted to arrest Him, but the intention died in its inception, and the uplifted hands sank down powerlessly. God Himself tied their hands, for the hour of Jesus was not yet come.

The report of the guard: V. 45. Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought Him? V. 46. The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. V. 47. Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? V. 48. Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on Him? V. 49. But this people, who knoweth not the Law, are cursed. V. 50. Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) V. 51. Doth our Law judge any man before it hear him and know what he doeth? V. 52. They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search and look; for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. V. 53. And every man went unto his own house. The Temple-guards that had been commissioned with the arrest of the Lord had been willing enough to perform their task. They had kept a close watch upon Jesus these four days. But the very fact that they were in the neighborhood of Jesus and thus heard much of His teaching had a powerful effect upon them. They returned to their masters without having carried out their commission. They were received with the reproachful question: Why brought ye Him not! The guards gave no direct answer, but tried to evade the question with the excuse that no mere man had ever spoken like this man Jesus. It was, in away, a confession of His divinity. They were not yet openly won for His cause, but they also could no longer take the part of His adversaries. The Word of God is mighty in the midst of its enemies. They had felt the force, the divine power of His words. But their apology only rouses the wrath of the Jewish :rulers. Was it possible, they ask, that even these trusted henchmen were deluded and deceived? What right have these subordinates to have a mind of their own? They should simply accept what their leaders tell them and not be influenced by the opinion of the masses. For that low crowd, in the opinion of the Pharisees, that did not know the Law and all the traditions as they themselves did, were a cursed lot, an execrable rabble. Note: The arguments here advanced by the Jewish leaders sound exactly like those of the so-called fashionable Christians in our days that have thrown the Bible overboard as the inspired Word of God and have only pity for the poor deluded, unlearned Lutherans and their like that insist upon accepting Jesus as the Savior of the world, through the atonement made by His blood.

It was at this point that Nicodemus, who had gotten his information concerning heavenly things directly from Jesus and knew what he was talking about, interfered. Though he was a member of the Pharisees, he did not share their views in this matter. He demanded whether it was in accordance with the Law of which they were continually boasting to condemn a man without giving him a fair hearing. It is characteristic of the hypocrites in high places that they refuse to accept any opinion but their own. Their conceit is equaled only by their denseness. But the objection of Nicodemus took them aback somewhat. They had not expected opposition in their own midst. Angrily they tell him that he himself seems to be becoming a Galilean, a follower of this hated Nazarene. They meant to say that despised Galilee was not the true country of the prophets, that most of them were from Judea and Jerusalem. But their assertion was too strong. There were one or two exceptions to the rule which they state so arbitrarily. The Prophet Jonah came from Galilee. And there was a prophecy stating that the light of the Messiah would shine upon that northern country in a most marvelous manner, Is. 9, 1.2. And so the meeting of the Sanhedrin ended in a deadlock; it broke up without further action against Jesus. The guiding hand of God is plainly seen in all the circumstances of this incident.

Summary. Jesus reproves the unbelief of His brothers, journeys to the Feast of Tabernacles at Jerusalem, and testifies concerning His person and office, gaining some adherents and confounding even the servants of the Sanhedrin.