Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 7:31-32 (Holman) However, many from the crowd believed in Him and said, AWhen the Messiah comes, He won=t perform more signs than this man has done, will He?@ The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about Him, so the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple police to arrest Him.
Many believed in Jesus due to His miracles. This is not the highest kind of faith, but is never condemned as worthless.
It is better to believe because of miracles than not to believe at all. Even weak faith is accepted as true faith.
Those who believed in Jesus were commoners, the crowd, a rabble. Some would call them inferior.
The leaders scorned ordinary people, but every person is of equal value in God=s eyes. When the poor, the children, the unrenowned, were saved, Heaven rejoiced, and the Holy Spirit inspired John to write about it here.
Gospel success should never be measured by how well it does among the Agreat@ in this world. Christ=s cause seldom has rulers or Pharisees on its side.
Christianity neither needs secular support nor gives secular advantage. Thus, Christ is rarely courted by the prominent of this world.
The cross and self-denial are hard lessons for nobles and princes. People are willing to be condemned for popularity and power.
The Pharisees and other religious leaders were more concerned with their prestige than their salvation. They trembled when one outside their group began to interpret the Law effectively. Their hold over the people was based on their claim to be the sole interpreters of the beloved, sacred Law.
Christ=s ministry threatened their influence and honor. The Pharisees knew if Jesus= popularity increased, theirs would decrease.
When they heard many were believing Him, they became desperate and immediately dispatched temple police to arrest Him. They had to silence the Preacher or lose their power.
John 7:33a Then Jesus said . . .
Temple police sent to arrest Jesus were in the crowd. He knew it, but was undaunted. Jesus was courageous. He expects the same from us.
A soldier once held a pistol to a preacher=s head, and threatened to kill him if he preached. The minister replied, ASoldier, do your duty; I shall do mine,@ and delivered his sermon.
The leaders plotted in secret, but Jesus broadcast His beliefs. He carried on, and did so openly. He had nothing to be ashamed of.
William Gadsby asked two scoffers to tell him how they believed a sinner could be justified in God=s sight. They replied, AYou don=t catch us in that fashion. Whatever answer we gave you would be repeated all over Manchester within a week.@
Gadsby replied, AThen I will tell you. A sinner is justified in the sight of God by faith in the blood and righteousness of Christ. Go and tell that all over Manchester and all over England as quickly as you like; for I believe nothing I am ashamed of.@
John 7:33b AI am only with you for a short time. Then I=m going to the One who sent Me.@
Jesus essentially told the officers their malice was harmless. Their hands were cuffed. Since His life and death were beyond their control, He was unconcerned about their plot.
He will leave when He chooses to. He will not be coerced by them or anyone else. He will voluntarily go to His Father soon.
Jesus knew He would be going to His Father before long. He would be on Earth only a little while longer. His final Passover was only six months away.
His departure was a consolation to Him, and can be to us. Our days on Earth contain thorns, trials, and difficulties, but are also few.
Jesus was going to the Father, who will receive Him with honor and love. Every believer should be grateful we will someday go to the same Father.
John 7:34a AYou will look for Me, but you will not find Me . . .@
Jesus planned to enter Heaven, where His detractors could not follow Him, and where their hands could never reach Him. There is a land from which our persecutors are barred.
The words in our text sounded an ominous note for the Pharisees. They wanted to be rid of Jesus. Their choice was their doom.
Their sin became their punishment. Those who rejected the true Messiah when He did arrive were abandoned to the miserable, endless expectation of one that never will come.
God does not call the unrepentant forever. He justly forsakes those who deem His presence a burden.
All who hate to be with Jesus here on earth are unfit to be with Him in Heaven. Indeed, Heaven itself would be a Hell to them.
Heaven=s door is never slammed in anyone=s face. It always stands wide open. But an unseen barrier, more repellent than any physical door, makes it impossible for anyone who has not trusted in Jesus to cross Heaven=s threshold.
ASeek the Lord while He may be found; call to Him while He is near@ (Isaiah 55:6). If we seek Christ in this lifetime we will find Him.
All who refuse to seek Him here and now will someday seek Him, but not find Him.
AThey who will not, when they may,
When they will, it shall be >Nay=!@
John 7:34b A . . . and where I am, you cannot come.@
Even then, when Jesus was standing beside them, they could not come where He was, because they did not share His life. As long as they retained their enmity, their exclusion was absolute and permanent. Separation from Jesus is caused not by distance in space, but by unlikeness of heart and mind.
Even when on earth, Jesus= communion with the Father was so intimate that He was still riveted to Heaven. Even when He came down from Heaven (6:38), He did not totally leave Heaven, but all the while was connected to Heaven.
Heaven is fellowship with the Father. Jesus came down into our world from this fellowship, but was never without it. Augustine said Jesus came in such a way that He did not leave Heaven, and returned there in such a way that He did not abandon us.
John 7:35-36 Then the Jews said to one another, @Where does He intend to go so we won=t find Him? He doesn=t intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks, does He? What is this remark He made: >You will look for me, and you will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come=?@
Their taunt proved to be an accurate prediction. Years later, the risen Christ did go to the Gentile world through His witnesses.
The sarcasm in our text concealed deep perplexity. Jesus= words puzzled them, made them uneasy. Was some hidden meaning still possibly eluding them? Was the Carpenter mocking them? Should they understand more?
The crowd was totally baffled by His message. His words haunted them and could not be shaken off. His words continue to cut to the quick. He still speaks to the deepest, innermost essence of people.