The Water of Life
Tim Temple

Introduction

Some people, when traveling on a ship, have a fear that the ship might sink. Coming out of that is the fear that they might drown. But a fear that a lot of people have is not just that they would drown, but they would be stranded at sea on a lifeboat or life raft and die of thirst, although water is all around them.

Many people are dying of thirst emotionally or spiritually, even though all around them are all kinds of material things that they think would satisfy their thirst. In spite of all that ocean water, a drowning person can't be satisfied because that water is unfit to drink; and in spite of all the material things that life might have to offer, a spiritually drowning person can't be helped because those things simply do not meet the need of spiritual thirst.

The verses that we are going to look at in John, chapter 7, address the issue of spiritual thirst and spiritual hunger. Jesus uses that as an illustration of His offer of Himself to people who are spiritually hungry and thirsty. To get those verses in their context, let me review the overview of the chapter. First, in verses 1-13, Jesus was involved in a conflict before the Feast of Tabernacles with His brothers. Then, in verses 14-36, we see the conflict during the feast. We have looked at those two sections of the chapter already.

In this lesson, we are going to look at the last two sections of the chapter—conflict at the end of the feast, verses 37-44, and the conflict with the leaders of the feast, verses 45-53. The teachings of Jesus and the actions of Jesus, though they were a great blessing to many people and though they brought eternal life to many people, also brought a lot of conflict and misunderstanding with those who were not willing to accept Him for Who He was and accept His teaching for what it was.

Cause of the Conflict

We move into a third section of conflict in this chapter as we look at the conflict at the end of the feast, in verses 37-44. The cause of the conflict was the message Jesus gave, beginning in verse 37:

John 7

37In 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.
38He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
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.)

If you take the statement that Jesus made in verse 37 out of context, as many people do, we would think that it is kind of senseless, but if you have been with us in these last few studies, you know that it was a very appropriate thing for Jesus to say, because it took place on the last day of the feast. The Feast of Tabernacles was an annual celebration of the end of the Israelites' wilderness wanderings many generations before the time of Jesus. It was that time when they got out of their bondage in Egypt by God's miraculous deliverance. They got ready then to go into the promised land, and they were unwilling to go into the promised land; but God, in His discipline, caused those adults, who were unwilling to go into the land that He had promised them, to wander in the wilderness until all of the adults died. Then He took those children of the unwilling adults into the promised land.

He instituted a remembrance of those wilderness wanderings, which was called the Feast of Tabernacles . They called it that because they were instructed to build little shelters, or little tabernacles, and for eight days they would sort of camp out in those tabernacles. You can imagine what great fun that would be for the children of the family. They would build their little lean-to on the road or in the front yard or in a park, and for eight days all of the normal activities in Jerusalem would stop, and they would have this eight day camping trip.

Probably because of that, this was the most popular of the feasts. It was also the last feast of the year, and so it was the most ceremonious and the most solemn feast of the year. It was a special time. As a part of the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, every morning in the temple, the priest would take a golden pitcher that had been filled at the pool of Siloam, and they would come into the temple where all of the people were gathered and pour out the water of that golden pitcher. That was a reminder to them of how God provided water for their fathers when they were in the wilderness for those forty years. He provided it miraculously from a rock on a couple of occasions. He provided it by leading them to lakes and streams and pools of water as they moved through those forty years.

The eighth day of every feast was a special day because it would fall on the Sabbath day. They would have not only the festivities and the lessons that they learned from the various feasts, but they also would have the observance of a Sabbath day. They referred to it as the great day of the feast , and that is what we see in verse 37:

John 7

37In 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.

It was a Sabbath day, and that particular day commemorated the actual crossing of the Jordan River and going into the promised land. Tradition tells us that on that eighth day the priest did not pour out the water in the temple as he had been doing those other days, because that eighth day symbolized their being across the Jordan and into the promised land. God had told them that once they got into the promised land, they wouldn't need His miraculous provision of manna and water, because they would drink from the streams in the land that He was going to give them. So on that eighth day, there was no pouring out of water.

The Pronouncement

That was the day that Jesus stood up and made this pronouncement. All of that goes into the background of what Jesus did and said, in verse 37. Those people who heard Him do this and say this would have been in that mind-set. They would be in that setting, and they would see the significance of what Jesus was saying. You see, what Jesus was saying is, “That provision that we have been celebrating is now going to be available to you by believing in Me.” It was a very important context in which He made that pronouncement. The actual pronouncement is in verse 37. Let's look at it again:

John 7

37In 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.

Jesus, of course, was talking about spiritual thirst as it was pictured by that physical thirst in the wilderness. We will see more of that in a little while when we get farther down in the passage. Take my word for it at this point, and I think you will see from the context that He wasn't talking about being physically thirsty, but rather about spiritual thirst.

Jesus had said the same thing before, and this is a precious promise for people who are spiritually thirsty, but it really doesn't make much sense to people who are not; for example, in Matthew, chapter 5, verse 6, Jesus had said:

Matthew 5

6Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Have you ever been in that situation where you had a desire to know more of God and you had a desire to see God work in your life situation? That thirst and that hunger can come when a person is walking in fellowship with the Lord. In fact, often we feel that hunger when we are most in fellowship with Him, and we want to know Him more. We want to see Him do those things that would make us more like Him.

It comes for other people under the conviction of the Holy Spirit when God, through whatever means, opens their eyes to their real need, as in Isaiah, chapter 6. When Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up, then he was able to see himself as he really was. God does that for us in various ways. It may be through some Bible teaching that we hear; it may be through God's speaking to us through a friend. But in various ways, God brings us under conviction and brings us to the place where we realize our need—our hunger and thirst and our need of Him. God says that is a wonderful, blessed place to be, because when you come to that place, God will fill that desire. God will slake that thirst.

In Matthew, chapter 11, verse 28, He said the same kind of thing:

Matthew 11

28Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Expression of the Promise

One of the wonderful promises of our relationship with Christ is that He feeds us spiritually. He meets the needs of our hearts, and in the process, many times He meets our physical needs. But as He meets the needs of our hearts, those physical needs take their proper perspective. Sometimes we realize when the needs of the heart are met, our physical needs aren't as important as we thought they were. “If you will come to Me, you will have your thirst taken care of.” That is a wonderful pronouncement that Jesus made, and with that is a promise, in verses 38-39. We see the expression of the promise, in verse 28. He says:

John 7

38He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.

When a person trusts Jesus Christ as Savior, or when a person who has trusted Christ as Savior but has been out of fellowship with Him, comes back to the Lord, it results in a spiritual satisfaction like water to a thirsty man. God speaks to our hearts in a way that He didn't when we were away from Him, and He causes a renewed love for Him and a sense of His love for us. Jesus referred to it as living water . It was like a fountain or a flowing stream, not just a pool that is still—certainly not a pool that is stagnant—but water that keeps on bubbling up within us. As long as we walk in fellowship with the Lord, as long as we are obedient to Him, that love for Him and that sense of His presence with us keeps bubbling up like living water out of a fountain.

I need to point out, even though it is not a part of what we want to learn today, that the critics find a problem with verse 38. Jesus says, “He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” The critics, who I guess having nothing better to do than pick apart the text of the Bible, say—and they are right to a certain extent—that the Old Testament doesn't say that anywhere. Jesus says, “As the Scripture says,” and the only Scripture in Jesus' day was the Old Testament, and the Old Testament doesn't say that.

Was Jesus mistaken? Was He ignorant of what the Old Testament said? No. The answer to that criticism is that Jesus was using what we have come to call, in our day and time, the consensus of Scripture . Sometimes people will say, “The Bible says this or that.” It is very important that if we are going to say that, we need to know that it really says that and, if possible, we need to know where it says that.

The problem is that there are things that have come to be commonly accepted teachings of the Bible that are not specifically said anywhere in the Bible. A consensus of Scripture is when we take the applied meaning of various parts of Scripture and by putting those parts of Scripture together, we come to a statement about a biblical truth.

Let me give you some references so we can see where Jesus was coming from when He said, “As the Scripture says, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” For example, He might have had in mind, Isaiah, chapter 44, verse 3. Isaiah is speaking of the time when the Messiah would come and, speaking of the kingdom of God on earth, He says:

Isaiah 44

3For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:

Or He might have had in mind, Isaiah, chapter 55, verse 1:

Isaiah 55

1Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Or Isaiah, chapter 58, verse 11:

Isaiah 58

11And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

You see, when Jesus comes to John, chapter 7, and He says, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water,” He is not off base. He is talking about the various things that were said in the Old Testament that the Messiah would produce and that faith in the Messiah would produce. Here, in a subtle way, Jesus is saying, “I am the Messiah.” He said, “If you will believe in Me, I am going to do for you the things that the Old Testament said the Messiah would do.”

The prophets, talking about the Messiah, talked in terms of spiritual thirst being satisfied and even talked about Living Water. The concept of what Jesus was talking about is in the Scriptures in the Old Testament, so the critics are really nitpicking when they try to say that Jesus was ill-informed about the Old Testament.

Explanation of the Promise

We have seen the expression of the promise, but in verse 39, we have the explanation of the promise. We don't have to wonder what He meant when He made this strange statement. In verse 39, He says:

John 7

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.)

This is the reason that I said a little earlier that Jesus was referring to spiritual thirst rather than physical thirst, because John tells us exactly what He was talking about here. He wasn't talking about physical thirst and He wasn't talking about physical water that He would provide. He was talking about the fact that He was going to provide the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit would produce in the hearts of believers the same kind of relief and the same kind of satisfaction that physical water provides to a thirsty person.

Notice that He says that this is only available to them who believe in Him. This is why so many times when we talk about spiritual hunger and spiritual thirst, unbelievers simply cannot imagine what we are talking about. This is one of the reasons unbelievers think that their Christian friends have simply lost it when they become Christians. We all know people about whom their old friends say, “He used to be a pretty good guy, and then he became a Christian. I can't understand what he is talking about now.” It is because these kinds of things are only available to believers.

Of course, it was fulfilled just a few months after this, on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came to all of those who had trusted in Jesus Christ up to that point. After the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit comes into a person's life the moment that he trusts in Christ as Savior, but those original believers had to wait until the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came.

There is a theological debate about whether or not this was fulfilled immediately for those hearers who heard Jesus at that time. There are those who say, “Jesus made this promise to these people and so those who accepted Him as Savior right then and there would have received the Holy Spirit at that time. I tend to think that all believers had to wait until the day of Pentecost, even those who believed in Jesus at that time, for two reasons: number one, there doesn't seem to be any evidence in the lives of His closest disciples that they were filled with the Holy Spirit before the day of Pentecost. They still made the dumbest mistakes and had the biggest lack of understanding about so many things.

Of course, they had the presence of the Lord Jesus with them, and so they didn't need the Holy Spirit. I will talk more about that in a minute, but there are those who say that those who believed received the Holy Spirit at that time. I personally believe that they had to wait until the day of Pentecost, because they had Jesus physically present with them. I think that is what the last line of verse 39 has in mind: “The Holy Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified.” Jesus' being glorified refers to His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven. All of that is wrapped up in Jesus' being glorified. As long as Jesus was on the earth, those who were physically present with Him didn't really need the Holy Spirit.

The second reason that I believe that is that Jesus makes promises many times. Though they are completely valid and they call for our belief, they are not fulfilled immediately; for example, the Rapture of the Church. Jesus promised that He would come again and receive us up unto Himself. The Apostle Paul wrote that the day is coming when the trumpet will sound and those who are in the grave will come forth and those of us alive here will be caught up together with the Lord to meet them in the air; but that hasn't happened yet. We have already believed it, but it hasn't happened yet, has it? Does that make it any less valid a promise? I think what Jesus was promising here was, “If you will believe on Me now, there will be a future day when the Holy Spirit will indwell you.”

Another Helper to Be Sent

Later on, Jesus elaborated on this in more detail, in chapter 14, to His disciples. Turn to chapter 14 and let me show you how He said that, because it is important to our understanding of this promise here in John, chapter 7. In chapter 14, He is getting closer and closer to His time of death, so He is teaching the disciples in more and more detail. This is the first time that He announces to them, in detail, that He is going away. After having told them that He is going away, in verse 16, He said:

John 14

16And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter [another Helper] , that he may abide with you for ever;
17Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

Here Jesus takes what He said in chapter 7 and amplifies it a lot more fully for the twelve disciples and perhaps others who had believed in Him, but particularly the twelve disciples. Notice the phrase in verse 16, “another Helper.” In Greek, there are two words for the word another . Sometimes it is helpful to know that there are some distinctions in Greek that are not available in English, and they enhance what Jesus was saying. Here is one of those places. Jesus said, “I am going to send you another Helper. I have been your Helper. I have been your Comforter.”

Don't you know those were wonderful months and years when the disciples were following Jesus around? What a Comforter He must have been. What a Helper He must have been to them. He helped Peter walk on water. He helped them catch a huge catch of fish. He did all kinds of things to help them physically, and particurlarly spiritually. He tells them that He is going to send them another Helper.

There are two words for another . One is the word homo . Unfortunately, we use that word in a negative sense in our day. A homosexual is a person who loves someone of the same sex or at least is physically involved. It is not real love, but they have an attraction to someone of the same sex. The word homo means “another similar”; but there is a second Greek word, and it is the Greek word allos . This word means “another of exactly the same kind.”

Let's go back to the word homo . No two men are exactly alike. Aren't you thankful for that? No two men are exactly alike, but they are similar. They have the same characteristics in general, so we can say that I, and any other male are of the same kind. But, Jesus didn't use that word. When He said, “I am going to send you another comforter,” He used the word allos , and in our English, we really do not have a word that will translate that in one word accurately. It means “another of exactly the same kind.”

The best illustration that I can think of is that there are other males who are of the same sex that I am. I can say that he is another male, but my son is another of exactly the same kind as I am in the sense of the genetic makeup and his inherited genes and his genetic characteristics. My son is not really exactly like me, as most of you know, but genetically he is another of exactly the same kind. He has my genes, my blood and all of my forefathers in him. He is another of exactly the same kind. The significance of that when Jesus said, “I am going to send you another comforter exactly of the same kind,” is that what He is establishing here is that the Holy Spirit is God. One of the reasons that we believe in the Trinity is that the Holy Spirit is spoken of as God. Jesus is spoken of as God, and the Father is spoken of as God.

There are only those three Who are referred to in Scripture as God . Therefore, we know that God is plural, and we know furthermore that He is a Trinity; but here is one of the proofs of the fact that the Holy Spirit is God. Jesus said, “I am going to send you another Comforter.” Then He says a little farther down, “The Spirit of Truth…” He identifies this Comforter as the Holy Spirit and He says, “He is another of exactly the same kind that I am.” He said that to people who had believed and had realized that Jesus is God.

Another application of that is, not only does it establish the deity of the Holy Spirit—that is technically important—but it also establishes the fact that you and I, who have the Holy Spirit living within us, have God Himself within us.

We don't have to theorize about that because we have another of exactly the same kind with us every day, right now, and we have electricity and running water and all of that stuff that they didn't have when Jesus was physically present here on earth. It might have been nice to see Jesus physically present here on earth, but in a sense, what we have is even better, because we have God spiritually present with us, living within us. We live in a much easier time to live in than they did, at least physically and materially. Besides that, when we leave here, He is going to go with all of us. The disciples followed Jesus around all the time and didn't want to go home, because they didn't want to leave the others with Him. They wanted to all be with Him, and the only way they could do that was for all of them to gang around Him and stay around Him all of the time.

If you and I had been alive when Jesus was on earth, once we left His presence, we were leaving God behind; but now, in this age, when you and I leave each others' company, we both go with God. We both have God Himself going with us, so it is a wonderful, wonderful promise that Jesus makes here in John, chapter 7.

There is something else I want to bring to your attention while we are on the subject of the Holy Spirit. Turn over to I Corinthians, chapter 2. For many of you this is review, but it is important for you to review it, and if you are hearing this for the first time, it is really important for you to know these additional things that God tells us about the Holy Spirit. This passage of Scripture is really talking about the same thing that Jesus was referring to about satisfying our spiritual hunger and thirst. Look at verse 9:

I Corinthians 2

9But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
10But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
11For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

We will stop our reading right there and think about these verses for a few minutes. Many times we hear verse 9 quoted, and we use that in reference to Heaven and the things that are future. There is nothing wrong with that. It is true that we cannot begin to imagine the things that God has prepared for us in Heaven. We don't have the capability of doing that, but that is really not what this verse is talking about. That is not the primary application of this verse. This is talking about what God has prepared for us, spiritually, in this life before we ever get to Heaven. In verse 10, it says that God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. We don't know the details about Heaven yet, so He must be talking about the things that He has for us in this life.

He goes on to say, “The Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God,” but the beautiful part of this passage and the reason that I have turned to it is that verse 11 explains how close our relationship is with the Holy Spirit—where this Living Water comes from. Notice verse 11:

I Corinthians 2

11For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

In other words, there is no way in this world for you to know what is going on in my mind. You may have a general idea because of what I am talking about. You know that I am thinking about the Holy Spirit, and I am thinking about I Corinthians. You know what is going on in my mind right now because I am speaking, but I really have no way of knowing what is going on in your mind. As far as I know, you may be thinking about what you are going to do tomorrow or what you did yesterday. Maybe you are relieved that I don't know what you are thinking about right now, but it is impossible for one person to know the things of another person. Only the spirit of the person himself knows the things of his own heart, and we can control how much of that we share with another person. We may choose to share a lot of it. We may choose to share a little of it, but that is completely in our control. He goes on, in verse 11, to say that only God, in His Spirit, knows what is going on in His mind, but look at verse 12:

I Corinthians 2

12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

Do you know what this verse says? This verse says that it is possible for you and me to know God better than we know our own spouse, better than we know any other human being. God does something for us that human beings cannot do. God puts His Spirit within us. You can't know what I am thinking, and I can't know what you are thinking, but let me tell you something: We can know what God is thinking. That is mind-boggling, isn't it? We can know God better than we can know any other human being. That is a wonderful truth. You see, spiritual thirst can be satisfied because we have the Holy Spirit Who teaches us the truth, Who reminds us of the truth, and Who convicts us of sin. We have everything that we need to have a life that is perfectly in tune with God, that satisfies our spiritual hunger and thirst, whatever that hunger and thirst may be.

An Example of That Conflict

Turn back to John, chapter 7. There is a lot of confusion about this conflict. We have the cause of the conflict in verses 37-39, but in verses 40-44, we read about the confusion because of the conflict. In verses 40-42, we have an example of that conflict. Notice verse 40:

John 7

40Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet.

There we see one part of the confusion. This Prophet that they are talking about is probably something that was talked about by the Jews all through their generations, because at the death of Moses, God said, “There is going to arise another Prophet Who is greater than Moses.” God said that Moses was the greatest prophet up to his time, but there was going to arise another Prophet Who was going to be greater than Moses, so for all of these generations, they were on the lookout for this greater Prophet than Moses.

They didn't understand that God was talking about the Lord Jesus Christ, and we only understand it as we look back on it. They didn't make the connection between the great Prophet Who was coming and the Messiah. They didn't think of those two as synonymous. Some of them said, “This must be the Prophet that God promised us when Moses died Who is greater than Moses. Notice verse 41:

John 7

41Others said, This is the Christ [now we have the third opinion] . But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?
42Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?

The problem about this group was actually no problem. They were rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, even though they were impressed with the things that He said. They said, “He can't be the Messiah, because the Messiah is going to come out of Bethlehem, and Christ came out of Galilee.”

I think the inclusion of this kind of thing shows God's sense of humor, because God arranged miraculously for Jesus to be born in Bethlehem just exactly where the Scripture said that the Messiah would be born, but to throw a kink in it for unbelievers, He had Him raised in Galilee. So these people didn't know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. They only knew that Jesus was raised in Galilee, so they assumed that He had been born there. Jesus was kind of like those people who say, “I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as soon as I could.” Jesus wasn't born in Galilee, but He got there pretty quick.

The funny thing is that God had Jesus born exactly where He said the Messiah would be born, then He kind of covered it up. Why did God do that? It wasn't deceitful on God's part. It wasn't tricky. It was to bring in the element of faith. These people had ample demonstrations that Jesus was the Messiah, but Satan pricked their minds with this tiny, little technicality. Everything seemed right about Jesus except He wasn't born in Bethlehem.

I believe that if those people had taken that one simple step of faith, based on the things that they saw and heard and said, “I don't know about where He was born, but I know this man has to be the Savior,” God would have very quickly revealed to them the truth of His birth in Bethlehem. That is still the principle of today. What God asks of us is not to accept and understand everything that is in the Bible; He simply asks us as a first step to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior.

I am going to stick my neck out on this, but I have stuck my neck out before on this subject: He does not even ask us to accept Him as Lord. As you understand Who Jesus is, and since He is Who He is, the natural result is that He is to be Lord of our lives. That is like saying the President of the United States has no authority over me. I may not like the President of the United States, but whether I like him or not, that office does have authority over me. I may not know, when I first accept Jesus Christ as Savior, that He is King of kings and Lord of lords. I don't have to know that to be saved. All I have to know is that He died for my sins, but as I come to know Him more fully, I realize that He is my King; He is my Master; He is my Lord, whether I like that or not.

He is Lord and Savior. He is born of a virgin. There are many things that are true about Jesus that we don't have to know in order to be saved. All we have to do is take that one little step of faith and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. Then after we take that step, God begins to fill our hearts and minds with these other truths that are important for us to know, but are not necessary to know for salvation. Here these people were being held back by Satan's trap and their own lack of faith over a tiny little point of where Jesus was born, which was a mistake in the first place.

When you are dealing with others about trusting Christ as Savior, this is a very important issue to clarify. I'm not asking you to believe that Jesus was born of a virgin. I am not asking you to believe that Jesus Christ is going to rule over all the nations of the earth. I'm not asking you to believe this and this and this objection that you have. All that I am asking you to believe is that Christ died for your sins. If you will take that step of faith, all these other things will take care of themselves.

When claiming a promise of God, it is important for us to recognize that we don't have to understand or be able to explain how that promise could possibly be fulfilled. All we have to do is claim that promise, and step by step, God will take us to the fulfillment of that promise. Don't let Satan get you off the track on things that don't seem to add up about Who Jesus is in the first place or about how God can accomplish the promises that the Holy Spirit is leading you to claim after you know Him as Savior. Many times taking that one step is the key to what God wants to do in our lives.

Conflict After the Feast

There is a conflict after the feast in verses 45-53. Remember, in verse 32, the Jewish leaders had sent out these soldiers to arrest Jesus and bring Him in. Notice verse 45:

John 7

45Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him?
46The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.

This shows the power that was even in Jesus' words. It will be interesting when we get to Heaven to find out all that those men had in mind, but I think as those soldiers heard Jesus' speech, they knew that this man was God, and how dare they even try to arrest Him. They had never heard anything like that in their lives, and being Roman court officers, they probably had heard some great orators. They had probably heard some great preachers, but they had never heard anything like this.

From time to time God lets us get a glimpse of that in our lives. Maybe you have had the experience of hearing a person speak for Christ in a personal conversation or publicly, and there is just a sense that what he is telling you is the truth. That is what happens when the Spirit of God works through a clean vessel with the message of God. That is why it is important for us, when we speak for God, to base our message on the Word of God and not just on our own human reasoning, whether it be in private conversation or public speaking. These men knew that there was something about this man that they had never experienced before.

Reaction of the Officials

The reaction of the officials is in verses 47-49:

John 7

47Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?
48Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?
49But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.

These Pharisees said three things that are still being said today. Someone has said that Satan doesn't have to invent any new traps. The old ones work so well, so why bother to invent new ones? Satan is still using these very same questions today that he used on those soldiers. In verse 47, they said, “You're deceived.” Satan has changed the wording, and today he says, “You are mentally ill,” or “You are emotionally deprived,” or something like that, but the bottom line is there is something wrong with you. If you believe that Jesus is God, there is something wrong with you. I am personally acquainted with a man who had his wife committed to a mental hospital when she got saved. He was saying exactly what these Pharisees were saying. “You are deceived.”

The next line is: “The really important people don't believe this. The educated, the intellectuals, the powerful people don't believe this stuff.” Notice verse 48:

John 7

48Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?

Along with that is the third thing in verse 49:

John 7

49But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.

In other words, “Unless you have the technical training to understand this kind of thing, then you have no business fooling around with believing in Jesus Christ. You just don't have the right kind of background to understand. That is why you think He is the Savior.”

Probably most of us have had someone talk to us that way, using one or more of those lines of reasoning. They say, “Oh, you have just gone crazy. You have just gone off the deep end with this religion stuff,” or usually very condescendingly, “The intellectuals don't believe that. The best selling authors don't believe that stuff. The professors in college don't believe that stuff.” Then, if all else fails, “Really, you can't understand it because you don't have the right kind of training to understand it.” These are lies of Satan that they used on these poor soldiers which are still being used today. They say, “Only the ignorant, uneducated, and the uninformed will accept this as true.”

A Righteous Objection to the Officials

Verse 50 finds a righteous objection to the officials:

John 7

50Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of the Jewish leaders,)
51Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?
52They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.
53And every man went unto his own house.

Human nature hasn't changed, just as Satan hasn't changed. Human nature and Satan still use the same tactics today. The liberals—in this particular context, I mean the ones who refuse to accept Jesus Christ for Who He is—are tolerant of everything except conservatives. They are all inclusive. They say that we should listen to what everyone has to say unless they disagree with them, and then they have no time for them at all. They just say conservatives are ignorant, uneducated and all those other things that they said to the soldiers. That is what they said to Nicodemus. “What is the matter with you, Nicodemus? You are not from Galilee. Why are you giving any credence to this guy? Don't you know that no prophet ever came out of Galilee?” They turned on one of their own people, and it is interesting to notice that he was quoting from their own materials.

I just finished reading one of the best books I have ever read. It is a Christian novel entitled Deadline . One of the many points that the author makes in the telling of a fascinating mystery is this matter of how even one of the unbelievers themselves, who has all the right credentials, knows the party line thoroughly, knows all the politically correct phrases, once he turns, even if he starts using that material to start justifying true faith in Christ, or even just Biblical principles, whether it deals with faith in Christ or not, they will have none of him.

Here Nicodemus was, quoting from the very material upon which they based their whole objection to Jesus, and they wouldn't accept Him. Nicodemus buckled and he wouldn't pursue the argument. As far as we can tell, everyone went home, the last verse says. But he at least planted the seed.

Here is an interesting thing: We don't know the names of any of the other leaders, except the two high priests, Annas and Caiaphas, because they were the topnotch leaders of the Jews. We don't know any of the names of the members of the Sanhedrin or the Pharisees, but God has memorialized Nicodemus' name because he took a stand for Jesus Christ.

God may not memorialize your name, but God has you and me in all kinds of different situations. Some of us may face more opposition than others; but if you stand for Jesus Christ, your witness will endure throughout eternity, even if it is rejected by the immediate people to whom you gave it.

See, when we deal with the things of Christ, we are dealing with eternal things. When we talk about Jesus, whatever we are able to establish about Jesus will go through eternity. We may not ever be famous for it like Nicodemus became, but we are dealing with eternal matters when we deal with the things of Christ. Nothing could be more important.

Conclusion

I think the proportion of believers to unbelievers is probably the same today as it was in Jesus' day. That is a sad commentary on what Christians have accomplished. The first question I want to ask, as we conclude is: Which group are you in? Are you a believer or an unbeliever? Do you have the Living Water flowing out of you? Are you still hungry and thirsty spiritually?

The second question is: If you do have the Living Water flowing out of you through faith in Jesus Christ, are you so much as a halfhearted witness? It is easy for us to criticize Nicodemus; he didn't say much. But I'm afraid he didn't say much more than some of us do in a clutch situation. Even a halfhearted witness is better than none. If you will make a halfhearted witness, God may use that to be an even stronger witness for Him. He will use it in ways that you may not ever even imagine until you get to Heaven.


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