Notes on John 7:14-31

John 7:14-31
That the Lord had a deeper purpose in view was soon apparent. He had refused to go with His brethren; He had affirmed that the fit moment for displaying Himself to the world was not come. But God had a present mission for His Son, and He goes to Jerusalem to fulfill it.
"But now in the midst of the feast Jesus went up unto the temple and taught. The Jews therefore1 wondered, saying, How knoweth this [man] letters, having not learned? Jesus therefore2 answered them and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If one desire to do his will, he shall know about the doctrine whether it is of God or I speak from myself. He that speaketh from himself seeketh his own glory; but he that seeketh the glory of him that sent him, he is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.” (Vers. 14-18.)
There was no secrecy now: Jesus was teaching in the temple. It was His actual work. Soon He would suffer in atonement. Now it was the time for giving out the truth, to the astonishment of those who lived in the region of law and ordinance, who could only ask how He could know since He had not learned. They knew Him not, they rose not above human sources. Jesus was quick and careful to vindicate His Father. What is learned from man man is proud of. His doctrine He would not allow to be His own in the sense of independence, any more than of derivation from human teaching which they owned to be out of the question. It was not of man but of Him that sent Him. Was this a high claim and easily made? Any one of single eye would soon see its reality. Faith alone gives a single eye. Others speculate and err. God guides and teaches him who desires to practice His will, as Christ gives the positive assurance that he shall know concerning the doctrine whether it is of God or whether He speaks from Himself. How comforting as well as surely verified! The Son was making known the Father; and God is faithful in this as in every other way. He who counts every hair of our heads and apart from whom not a sparrow falls to the ground cares for His children. Every one that is of the truth hears the voice of Christ. Whatever their pretensions, all others are not of the truth: else they would know that His teaching is of God. Where we do not know, we must suspect ourselves, not blame God; if we really desired to do, we should soon learn, God's will. Certainly He did not speak from Himself. Yet of all men He was most entitled. But if He is the true God, He is true man and came to exalt His Father, not Himself. He had no private ends to serve. Lord of all He became the servant of all, above all of God. Self is what blinds the race, even the faithful, so far as it is allowed to act. He that speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but Jesus never did so—always served to the glory of Him that sent Him. There is, there can be, no solid guarantee of the truth where God's glory is not sought and secured. Christ in this was perfect; and so He here declares that He is true and no unrighteousness is in Him. As self is what hinders the truth, so it is just to neither God nor man. Jesus is both true and righteous.
Further, when men boast, they are sure to be wrong not only in other things but most where they are haughtiest. Did the Jews pique themselves on the law of Moses? How vain to boast of that law which none of them practiced! Yet so it was, as the Lord pressed on their consciences here. They reasoned, but what was their walk? “Hath not Moses given you the law? and none of you doeth the law. Why do ye seek to kill me?” (Ver. 19.) Jesus is ever the touchstone. One might never have learned their murderous malice but for Him who brought God close and convicted them of sin. This they could not bear and so sought to get rid of Him, in their zeal for the law violating it utterly, and in their dark rebelliousness rejecting Him who gave it by Moses. But is it now uncommon to glory in the law and hate the truth?
Yet the people in general were not aware how far hatred was impelling the leaders, and had no suspicion that they were bent on the death of Jesus. “The crowd answered, Thou hast a demon: who seeketh to kill thee? Jesus answered and said to them, One work I did, and ye all wonder because of this. Moses hath given you circumcision (not that it is of Moses but of the fathers), and on a sabbath ye circumcise a man. If a man receiveth circumcision on a sabbath, that the law of Moses may not be broken, are ye angry at me because I made a man entirely sound on a sabbath?” (Ver. 20-23.) In their ignorance the crowd spoke with rash irreverence and violence against the Lord, who stops not to notice it but draws attention to the absurdity of their quarreling as well as wondering at one work of His, the cure of the infirm at Bethesda on the sabbath, when it was a common matter of course to circumcise a male child on the eighth day spite of its being a sabbath, and this in honor of the law of Moses, though in fact circumcision was rather of the fathers. The Lord closes His reproof with an exhortation which touches the root of their cavils: “Judge not according to sight, but judge the righteous judgment.” (Ver. 24.) They had brought in God, and were consequently wrong not on the surface merely but altogether. If the readings (as in Tischendorf's text) be κπίνετε.... κρίνατε, the first warns against the evil habit in general, the second urges the righteous judgment they should follow on this occasion. It is clear that one wants divine guidance if we are not to judge according to appearance, but that is what God is so willing to vouchsafe His children, not teaching only but direction and judgment. Knowing all, He knows also how to communicate what is needed by His own.
The Lord's plain speaking surprised, if the multitude, not such as knew the enmity of the rulers. “Some therefore of them of Jerusalem said, Is not this he whom they seek to kill? And, behold, he speaketh openly, and they say nothing to him. Have the rulers indeed decided that this is the Christ? Howbeit we know whence he is; but when the Christ cometh, no one knoweth whence he is. Jesus therefore cried in the temple teaching and saying, Ye both know me and ye know whence I am; and I have not come from myself, but he that sent me is true whom ye know not, I know him, for I am from him, and he hath sent me.” (Ver. 25-29.) The men of Jerusalem, knowing too much of the rulers to accept their decisions absolutely, indulge in irony, but they too prove their ignorance like the rest. They did not know whence Jesus was, whilst they ought to have known where and when the Messiah was to be born.
Jesus in replying contrasts their assumed knowledge of Him and His origin with their positive ignorance of the Father who sent Him. He assuredly knew the Father as He was from Him and sent by Him. And the Father was not only truthful but true, as the Son could attest in all its force, not the Jews who knew not the Father. This drew on Him the very desire to lay hold of Him with which He had charged them. How little man knows himself any more than God, as Jesus shows! “They sought therefore to take him, and none laid hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. But many of the crowd believed on him, and said, When the Christ cometh, will he do more signs than these which this [man] did?"3 (Vers. 30,31.) Those who rejected the Lord for their tradition and will were only the more exasperated by the truth; but they were powerless till His hour came. God abides God, spite of man and Satan. His purpose stands though the enemies betray and commit themselves; but even when they do their worst, they but fulfill the scriptures they deny and the will of God they detest. Another effect also appears: “many of the crowd believed on him.” The truth might not enter conscience, and so the result be human; but at least it was felt and owned that from the Messiah none need expect more signs. Still all is vain Godward but Christ and the faith that receives Himself.