“Is This the Christ?” – John 7:37-52

John 7:37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ “ 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

40 Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, (Jesus’ proclamation regarding His identity as the living water) were saying, “This certainly is the Prophet.” 41 Others were saying, “This is the Christ.” (Remember, we understand now that the Prophet and the Christ are one in the same.  The Jews of that day did not necessarily make that connection.  At any rate, the question keeps coming up, “Who is this man?”)

Still others were saying, “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” (The crowd identifies Jesus as a Galilean which to them disqualifies Him from being the Christ.  Maybe they were unaware of the fact that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of the house of David as the Scriptures foretold.) 43 So a division occurred in the crowd because of Him. (“A division occurred” is a recurring theme as Jesus explains more and more about who He is.) 44 Some of them wanted to seize Him, but no one laid hands on Him.

45 The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, (They were sent to arrest Jesus in John 7:32 and now have returned empty-handed.) and they said to them [the officers], “Why did you not bring Him?” 46 The officers answered, “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.” (As we mentioned last time, even the temple police recognized the unique teaching authority that Jesus possessed and refused to arrest Him.)

47 The Pharisees then answered them, “You have not also been led astray, have you? 48 No one of the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him, has he?” (The Pharisees respond to the soldiers failure to bring Jesus in with an exasperation that surely you soldiers have not joined this naive crowd in their belief.  They make the pointed comment to the officers that none of us experts are believing in Him.  Of course, we know that some of the Pharisees are believing in Him or at least moving in that direction.)

49 “But this crowd which does not know the Law is accursed.” (The Pharisees had a very dim view of the “crowd” who could easily be misled by any plausible teacher because of their ignorance of the true interpretation of the Law.  The Pharisees also had a general disdain for the common people who had given up long ago any interest in keeping the minutia of the Law that the Pharisees were so proud of.)

50 Nicodemus (he who came to Him before, being one of them) said to them, 51 “Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?” (Speaking of the Law, Nicodemus points out the Law requirement to let Jesus speak for Himself before the group jumps to any conclusions about His guilt or innocence.) 52 They answered him, “You are not also from Galilee, are you? Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee.” (There is really no point in debating this any further.  Look at our history.  No prophet comes out of Galilee.  This is not referring to a specific prediction of Scripture; it is more of a history lesson and maybe a comment of prejudice.  Basically, it never happens.  A Galilean cannot be the Christ.)

The debate stops here for the time being, but is not finished.  In fact, the confrontations between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders over His identity continue to escalate until, “The Jews answered him [Pilate], ‘We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God’ ” (Jn 19:7).  And Jesus is put to death.

For our purposes, we will stop here; having completed our exposition of John chapters 5 through 7.  I hope the thoroughness of our discussion has driven home the point that Jesus was very clear about who He is.  Jesus was very clear that He, the true Son of God, is the only way to eternal life.  This claim, put forth by Jesus’ own words and confirmed by the Jew’s reaction, is critical to lay hold of as we evaluate the message of the gospel.  We will discuss why next time.