As I’ve studied John 7, I’ve become somewhat fixated at verse 46. This verse has spoken truth to me and has forced me to face some blind spots, some shortcomings, some failures in my relationship with my Lord Jesus. And these failures come in the form of childlike trust. Or my lack of childlike trust in my Lord.
Let me set the scene for you.
As Jesus was preaching His Word to the unbelieving crowd gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2), the Pharisees and chief priests were conspiring together to have Jesus arrested and removed from their midst. They did not want the Romans involved, at least not yet, so they ordered the Temple officers, or Temple police, to “take Him” when the opportunity presented itself and bring Him back to them for trial (John 7:32).
It appears the officers shadowed Jesus for a least one full day, maybe more, before returning to the Pharisees empty handed. In John 7:32, they are given the command to “take Him” and at least one other day passes by the time we get to John 7:37 when Jesus stands up on the last day, the great day of the feast, and offers His “thirst, come, and drink” invitation. They listened to Jesus for at least one full day. They also heard the promise of the Holy Spirit swelling to rivers of living water to those who believed (John 7:38-39). And something in the words of Jesus changed them.
The crowd who heard Jesus’ message was divided (John 7:43) as to what to think about the man. Some said He was the Prophet and others the Christ. Still others couldn’t make up their mind and argued about Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah and how many, if any, Jesus fulfilled (John 7:40-42).
But the officers weren’t divided. They listened and they knew and they returned to the Pharisees without Jesus, without excuses, empty handed. When the Pharisees demanded, “Why have you not brought Him?” (John 7:45). They simply replied, with bewildered expressions on their faces, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:46). Yes, no man had the words of truth like Jesus and no man ever said the things Jesus said.
No one. Ever.
They Believed Jesus at His Word. Do We?
I wish I could trust the words of Jesus more than I do. I wish I had the faith to believe everything He said, even the hard stuff. For example, in Matthew 6:33 Jesus promised, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” And what things was Jesus talking about? For starters, the very things I worry and fret over: my life (Matt. 6:25), how will I provide for my family (Matt. 6:31), and what the uncertain future holds (Matt. 6:34). But Jesus clearly said if I seek His Kingdom and His righteousness first, before anything else, then He will take care of my needs. As a good and gracious Lord, He will provide food, shelter and clothing for me. And not only that, but He said He knows me so well that the very hairs on my head are numbered (Matt. 10:30). Not counted, numbered. He know and loves us that much!
But that’s a hard thing to believe. And I don’t know why.
Jesus says if I, being evil, know how to give good gifts to my children, how much more will my Heavenly Father give good gifts to me? (Matt. 7:11). Why is this truth so hard to live by? Why is it so hard to believe?
These officers were listening to Jesus speak while they were strategizing for the best time, the most opportune moment, to arrest Him and bring Him back bound to the Pharisees. But His words changed their heart. His words changed their view of life, their view of true, eternal authority, and their view of their purpose, meaning, and destiny. They were no longer pacified with the temporal, passing, transitory trinkets of life— now they were enamored with the Kingdom of God, and the King Eternal.
What Did They Hear Jesus Say?
One, they head Jesus proclaim, over and over again, He was sent from God (John 7:28-29). Not sent by God, but sent from God. This implies a pre-existence with the One who sent Him. You and I can be send by God. But Jesus was sent from God. And there is a great difference between the two.
Two, they heard Jesus say His life was not His own, but was planned, ordered and arranged by God (John 7:6). Jesus said everything is in His Father’s hand and He was here to do His Father’s will. In fact, the very words these guards heard Jesus speak came from the Father, and not from Jesus (John 7:16-17). Jesus spoke and modeled true submission to authority.
Three, they heard Jesus say that He, and He alone, was the answer to man’s deepest needs. He invited the guards to come to Him and drink and let Him satisfy their thirst for peace, joy, and purpose in this life (John 7:37-38). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
Four, they heard Jesus say He comes to offer them the greatest blessing imaginable (John 7:38). He promised the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, to live inside of each of them, to take up residence as our deposit, our guarantee of our future inheritance to come in Him (Eph. 1:14).
And the officers were so mesmerized by the words of Christ, so thankful for what they heard, they went back to the Pharisees empty handed, willing to suffer whatever consequences awaited them. But they didn’t care. Because they had been in the presence of the Living Lord Jesus and had learned to trust Him at His word.
I pray that you and I, the church, would learn to do the same. To simply trust Him at His word.
After all, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:46).
The following is George Muller’s take on Matthew 6:33. These are words I need to memorize and recite daily.
“Where anxiety begins, faith ends. When faith begins, anxiety ends.”
And remember the words of Jesus:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).
What “things”? we ask. By “things” the Lord was talking about all the stuff we worry and fret and give ourselves ulcers about: money (Matt. 6:24), our house (Matt. 6:25), what we will eat and what we will wear (Matt. 6:31), the future (Matt. 6:34). Makes little sense to worry about things the Lord promises to take care of, doesn’t it?
If we are “children of God” and “joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16-17)— then worry is a sin, a form of blasphemy. Worry is assuming a responsibility that God did not intend for us to have. And worry, is the opposite of faith.
I don’t want to live in the clutches of fruitless worry any longer. Do you? If not, come join with me in believing the truth of Matthew 6:33.
Jesus placed as first importance the need to count the costs (Luke 14:28) before coming to Him and partaking of His life (John 7:37-38). But many today fail to embrace, or even consider, what it means to truly follow Christ. We debate among ourselves trivial theological matters or define, to our own carnality, what is “permissible” in the Christian life, yet fail to understand the depths of the new life He has call us to.
It’s a life, mind you, of holiness. After all, “No man ever spoke like this Man! (John 7:46).
Want to know more about the life of faith? Then keep listening.
The following is a study on John 7:40-52.
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After Jesus, on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, presented His invitation to the unbelieving crowd, the people were naturally divided as to what to do with this Jesus and His teaching (John 7:43). Jesus offered His invitation, His gospel presentation of sorts, in one, short, pointed charge: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37). And to those who would come and drink, Jesus promised eternal life and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (John 7:38). These were powerful words that demanded a response.
And the response and division among the people was profound.
Some claimed Jesus was the Prophet, alluding to the forerunner of the Messiah as foretold in Deuteronomy 18:15 (John 7:40). Others, in their excitement, claimed Jesus was the Christ, yet failed to follow Him as Lord (John 7:41). And still others spent their time arguing and debating over trivial quirks and petty theological positions rather than earnestly searching to see if, in fact, the Messiah, the Savior of Israel, the Son of God, was actually standing in their midst (John 7:41-42).
But there was one other group present on this final day of the Feast: the temple guards or officers who were commanded by the Pharisees and the chief priests to arrest Jesus and bring Him to them (John 7:32). The religious establishment, the enlightened intelligentsia, those in power, the Jewish politicians of the day, wanted Jesus removed, arrested, captured, silenced, dead. They wanted to put an end to the saga of Jesus once and for all.
So they sent out those they controlled, the temple officers, the police, with the orders to have Jesus arrested. Yet, the temple officers returned empty handed (John 7:44). The Pharisees were enraged.
“Why have you not brought Him?” they demanded (John 7:45).
“No man ever spoke like this Man,” they replied (John 7:46).
No Man Ever Spoke Like This Man!
The officers, who failed to arrest Jesus and faithfully discharge their duty, did not defend their actions to the Pharisees. They didn’t say, “The job was too hard, the crowds were too big, we couldn’t find Him, or His disciples overpowered us, or… whatever.” No, they simply looked the Pharisees in the eye and said, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” They were shocked, dumbfounded, and bewildered by this Man called Jesus. He was different from anyone they’d ever met. And they were so amazed at His words they simply turned around, their mouths open in disbelief and wide-eyed wonder, and headed back to the Pharisees ready to accept and suffer the consequences for their disobedience.
“No man ever spoke like this Man!”
No one has ever spoken like Jesus. And no one will ever speak like Him. His Words are Scripture, they are truth, they are the Word of God spoken by the Son of God. He’s indescribable, He’s beyond explanation, our minds cannot grasp the majesty of His Presence. He is, after all, God Almighty, the Sovereign One, the Christ, the Messiah, God’s only begotten Son (John 1:18). Every time we approach the Lord we should come to Him in fear and trembling (Psalms 2:11, Phil. 2:12). The word fear means, first of all, what we would assume fear means: terror and dread. After all, we are in the presence of an awesome, powerful, magnificent God whose very presence should drive us to our knees in worship, just like it did Isaiah (Isa. 6:5) and John (Rev. 1:17) and countless others. But the word fear also means honor, respect, and awe. It speaks of giving profound reverence and esteem. Every time we approach the Lord we should be overwhelmed by the limitless depth of His beauty and the soaring height of His wisdom and knowledge and love. We should be captivated, literally intoxicated by the incomprehensible glory of His character and personality and by the inexhaustible supply of His grace and mercy. When we are blessed to be able to commune with Him we should be overwhelmed, overjoyed, just giddy with anticipation to be in His presence.
But we’re not. And why is that?
Familiarity Breeds Contempt
There’s an old saying from Aesop’s Fable that goes: familiarity breeds contempt. The formal meaning of that phrase, or proverb, is: “extensive knowledge of, or close association with, someone or something leads to a loss of respect for them.” Or, in other words, the more you know someone the less impressed you are with them. Awe of something or someone, for some reason, seems to evaporate and disappear over time.
We can see this happen in many marriages today. Before the vows are exchanged, the loving couple can spend hours staring into each other’s eyes, saying nothing, just relishing in the sheer bliss of each other’s presence and loving every minute of it. Fast forward five years and the situation dramatically changes. No more infatuation. The passion has cooled. Now the initial awe and splendor of the marriage has given way to apathy and ingratitude, often voiced as, “You don’t seem interested in me anymore. You no longer open the door for me or take me out to nice places. I feel like you take me for granted.” To which the husband replies, “Huh. What were you saying? Can we talk about this later, the game’s on?”
Why is that? Because familiarity breeds contempt.
But it should never be that way with Christ. In fact, the more we know Him, the more we learn about Him, the more we experience Him, the more in love and in awe we should be of Him. Why? Because knowing Jesus only gets better with time. We can never run out of things to love about Him, or to learn from Him or to discover about Him. He is inexhaustible. Therefore, familiarity with Christ leads to more amazement, more wonder, more astonishment, and more love and respect than we could imagine.
Familiarity Breeds Contempt in the Church
But that’s not what we find in church. In church we’ve somehow lost the respect and awe of the Lord. We’re no longer concerned about worshiping Him. We’re more concerned about pleasing the masses, giving the people what they want, exciting them, giving them some sort of experience, some positive sensation or feeling or affirmation, that will make them want to return for more.
But it’s not about Jesus. Why? Because familiarity breeds contempt, even, as horrifying as it sounds, with the Lord. We know all about Jesus. We’re familiar with Him and His story. There’s not much new to learn about Him. He’s our Lord and Savior, our Master and King, the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God… yawn. But that truth doesn’t move us like it did in the beginning. Why?
Familiarity breeds contempt.
Familiarity with Christ should daily make us realize how small we are and how great and loving and powerful and majestic He is. And it should drive us to our knees in sheer adoration and praise and thanksgiving for all He has done for us. Because He is God, and we are nothing.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21).
Remember, “No man ever spoke like this Man!”
Or ever will.
Trying to describe the indescribable. Impossible.
But the following from Dr. S.M. Lockridge comes as close as I’ve ever seen. Be blessed and encouraged in Him.
When Jesus confronts the Jewish leaders with the truth of who He is, they naturally respond by wanting to silence His voice, to take Him captive (John 7:32), to destroy Him or, literally, to kill Him (John 7:19). And, unlike many of us today in the church, Jesus did not retreat but boldly stood and declared to them the gospel once again. Consider the following:
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).
Jesus preaches to them the gospel in just three words: thirst, come and drink.
Want to know more? Then keep listening.
The following is a study on John 7:25-39.
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