Faith, Not Discussion

A word on knowing.

John 7

Of the three great feasts of the Jews (Deut. 16:16), in which year by year all the males had to go up to Jerusalem, two* have had their antitypes; the third has not.

*"Christ our passover is sacrificed for us." (1 Cor. 5:7.) "When the day of Pentecost was fully come." (Acts 2:1.)

The feast of tabernacles was celebrated after the harvest and the vintage.* In it the children of Israel dwelt in booths, in witness that, once strangers, they were strangers no longer.** But then there was in connection with this feast an eighth day, showing that along with the accomplishment of God's purposes in respect to the earth, there would be the introduction of a new period, the commencement of a new week.***

*"The harvest and the vintage refer respectively to the Lord's gathering in His own, and to the treading of His enemies in the winepress of the wrath of God." (Rev. 14)

**For this the Jews must be in their own land.

***This marks the connection of those who are raised with the Lord Jesus in the joy of the feast.

Jesus was in Galilee. (v. 1.) "Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand. His brethren therefore said unto Him, Depart hence, and go into Judea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. 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." They wanted Him to give a manifestation of Himself adequate to His claims. This was not the time for Christ to show Himself to the world. He will do so; "every eye shall see Him;" His glory shall be exhibited to the terror of the ungodly. But He is not showing Himself now to the world; and this, to a world lying in wickedness, is mercy - real longsuffering. (2 Peter 3:9.) His brethren had no understanding of this; "for neither did his brethren believe on Him."

Mark His answer: "My time is not yet come; but your time is alway ready. The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil., Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come." When He is manifested in power, it will not be a question of testimony merely against evil, He will say, "Those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay before me." (Luke 19:27.) He takes no such place of vindicating Himself now. Cost what it will, we are to accomplish the will of God while evil is in power; there is no bringing in of power to hinder the evil. (Mark 9:13; Rev. 3:10. )

Having said this, "He abode still in Galilee," He had gone there on His first rejection; and, though we find Him going up to Jerusalem to keep the feasts, etc., He abode there. "The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up." (Matt. 4:15-16.) For judgment was He come into the world, that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind. "Ye say ye see," He told the Pharisees, "therefore your sin remaineth." He was "Jesus of Galilee." The poor despised Galileans had the light when the Jews had not.

His brethren having gone up, He also goes up (v. 10), "not openly, but as it were in secret."

And now we find what is going on in hearts. There is much murmuring among the people concerning Him: some say, 'He is a good man:' others, 'Nay; but He deceiveth the people.' The Lord might bring blessing out of it, but they are reasoning and discussing, and this is just the proof that they have nothing to say to it as yet. In another place He asks His disciples; "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" They tell Him, "Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, one of the prophets." It was all discussion. But when Peter replies (to the question, "But whom say ye that I am?"), "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," He tells him, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." There was personal recognition of Himself, and where there is that, there is no discussion. Discussing Him as subject-matter in their own minds, they had not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. Where people's minds are at work discussing the right and the wrong, there is not the mind of the newborn babe; they are not receiving, but judging. "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" asked Nathanael (Nazareth was a despised city, and he thought no good thing could come out of it); but when that which was blessed was presented to Him, the Israelite without guile received it.

Further, we get instruction here (vv. 14-17) as to receiving the doctrine of God. About the middle of the feast Jesus goes up into the temple and teaches. The Jews marvel, saying, "How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" He tells them, "My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me." They thought He had received it from man, therefore He says, it is not mine. No matter what we have learned, if we have not learned it from God, it is nothing; there is no faith; if learned from man, it is mine. Then He adds,

"If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." Where there is faith, there is the unfeigned desire to do the will of God. Observe, He says, 'If any man will (i.e. wills to) do,' not, 'If he have done.' If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light; God will show what His will is. If it be not, what is the good (speaking with reverence) of knowing His will? there is not the intention of doing it. Where the heart is right in the sight of God, He gives the capacity for knowing His will. The heart ought to be, in a certain sense, wary; there is a Christian simplicity, and there is a simplicity not Christian; but there may be this wariness, and yet sincerity of desire to do God's will when known. This is ever the practical test of Christian truthfulness. There may be great ignorance and infirmity, but if the eye be single, if there be the real intention in the heart of doing God's will, he shall know, etc. Very often we do not get light, because we are not prepared to walk in the light when known.

He next refers to proofs; for there are certain moral proofs quite evident to hearts opened by grace. Never in a single thing sought He His own glory.

Then He turns to them about what they have known. "Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law?" The desire to do the will of God, if known, is not merely in question, there is not the doing His will in things known. He turns, so to speak, the tables upon themselves. You are speaking of my being unlettered, and you are walking in sin; "Why go ye about to kill me?" There will always be hatred in the heart to the truth, where there is not the will to go along with it. As bad a thing as can happen to a man, is for him to be contented without it; when we find him saying, 'I am happy now, I was exercised about it once, but I am happy now.'

Verses 25-27, there is again discussion. "Is not this He, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, He speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?" [What is the meaning of this? He is teaching publicly, and no man owns Him; have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on Him?] Here is their great motive, not God's truth - "Howbeit we know this man. whence He is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence He is." Nor did they.

The Lord turns now. "Ye both know me," He cries, "and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but He that sent me is true, whom ye know not. But I know Him: for I am from Him, and he hath sent me." (vv. 28, 29.)

This disturbs conscience. They seek to take Him. Their only thought is to get rid of the testimony that is troubling them. But no man lays hands on Him, because His hour is not yet come. Meanwhile many of the people believe on Him, and say, "When Christ cometh, will He do more miracles than those which this man doeth?"

Then there comes out a further great truth. The Pharisees and chief priests, enraged at hearing of the effect produced on the people, having sent officers to take Him, He tells the people, It is no good getting into a carnal discussion; while you have the light, walk in the light, lest darkness come upon you; you are seeking me now in ill-will, in enmity, in malice. "Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto Him that sent me." I am going to my Father, and ye shall see me no more, ye shall seek me, and shall not find me; you may seek me now, and find me; but the day will soon be when I go unto Him that sent me; I came from God, and I am going to God; where I am, thither ye cannot come. There could not be a more terrible judgment, spoken in all calmness as it was.

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? 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?" Not a thought of God! they can think about the, Gentiles, but not about God or His Christ.

But as the converse of this result of unbelief, we get Jesus in "the last day, that great day of the feast," standing and crying, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said (what ? not as in chap. 4, "whoever shall drink of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst." He speaks of another consequence of His going away, of what should take place while He was away, of the power of identification with the eighth day; it is not that the thirsty one shall be satisfied, that, if he comes to Him and drinks, his thirst shall be quenched, but) out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 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." (vv. 37-39.) The Holy Ghost should be received in such sort by the believer as to dwell in and flow from him. Israel drank in the wilderness of that spiritual rock that followed them. There was a river to drink from, at which their thirst was quenched. In anticipation of the feast of tabernacles we have the Holy Ghost to give us the joy, the power, the glory and fulness of this communion with God. (Eph. 1:14.)

Now the Holy Ghost never flowed in this way in an Old Testament prophet, nor yet even in John the Baptist. He worked on a person's mind and gave prophecies; but when the prophets searched, what did they discern? "that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven." (1 Peter 1:10-12.) If Paul speaks, he speaks of that which he has; he speaks of future things indeed, but he speaks of things that belong to himself. See what is said Rom. 8:26-27. The Holy Ghost come down from Christ the head of the body, takes His place in the body, and brings down the love of God into the detail and circumstances of the Christian life, into the sorrows of the way, whilst, as come down from Christ glorified, He identifies the members with Him in all the coming blessing and glory.

And mark another thing. The Lord is not here speaking of the quickening power of the Spirit (a most blessed truth in its place), but of that which they that believe on Him should receive, as it is expressed in Ephesians, "After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory." That is our position.

But whilst it is so blessed, where does it cast all the people who have not believed? Back again into discussion. Many of the people, when they hear this, say, "Of a truth, this is the Prophet." Others say, "This is the Christ." But some, "Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the Scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David dwelt?"

"There was a division among the people because of Him." (v. 43.) Whilst Christ is to the believer the source of luring waters, unbelief is discussing about Him.

"Every man went unto His own home; Jesus went unto the mount of Olives."