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“Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me? The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee? Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel. Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. Then said some of them of Jerusalem, 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? Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is. Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, 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. Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come. And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done? The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him. Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come. 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?” (John 7:14-36)
In the midst of the Feast of Tabernacles, the Lord Jesus went up into the Temple at Jerusalem and taught. Here, in John 7:14-36, we read the doctrine he taught. Would to God that in every place where men and women claim to worship God today such doctrine were taught. Robert Hawker observed…
“It is very blessed to behold Christ going up to keep this ordinance, in fulfilling the whole law. And we have abundant reason to bless him that he did, for the Church would have lost this divine Sermon, which this chapter records, had he not gone there. Yea, indeed, as this was the last public preaching of Jesus, at the feast of tabernacles, it merits the attention of his people the more, as being decisive to the great points of his doctrine.”
May God the Holy Spirit graciously teach us our Savior’s doctrine. Here are seven decisive points of doctrine to be observed in this passage.
1. If you go to hell, it will be entirely your own fault (vv. 16-17).
Man’s will and works have nothing to do with salvation. That is all God’s work alone. But if you perish, it will be altogether because of your will and your work. — “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” That is precisely the doctrine our Lord Jesus declared in John 7:16-17.
Faith in Christ is the gift of God; but unbelief is a choice of man, a decision of the will, a deliberate act of obstinate rebellion to God. The Son of God here tells us plainly that if you will do God’s will, you will know his doctrine. But, our Savior says, “Ye will not believe” (Luke 22:67). — “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40).
2. Any preacher who exalts and promotes himself is not God’s servant (v. 18).
“He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.” — Multitudes fill the pulpits of churches in every place like Diotrephes, who, craving the honor of men and loving to have pre-eminence, exalt themselves. Such men are crafty, self-serving users of men. Our Lord Jesus was not such a preacher; and those who serve Him are not such (2 Corinthians 4:5).
That man who is called of God is deeply sensible of his Savior’s majesty and his own infirmity. He sees in himself nothing but sin, unworthiness, and insufficiency. He knows that he is less than nothing (Ephesians 3:8; 1 Corinthians 15:9). But that man who knows that he is not motivated by Christ, that he is not led by the Spirit of God, that he has no regard for the glory of God, tries to cover his defects by exalting his name. Like the Scribes and Pharisees of old, he seeks the praise of men.
God’s servants do not exalt themselves. They exalt the Triune God, uplifting the crucified Christ, crying, “Behold the Lamb of God!”
3. Any religion that destroys mercy and compassion is false religion (vv. 19-23).
The Scribes and Pharisees, the religious rulers at the Feast in Jerusalem, were still stewing over the fact that our Lord Jesus had healed the impotent man (John 5:1-8) on the sabbath day. Those same men were very strict about circumcising a child on the eighth day, even if the procedure had to be done on the sabbath. They did not mind cutting an infant on the Sabbath; but they despised the Lord Jesus because, as he puts it, — “I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day” (v. 23). — “And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day” (John 5:16).
God’s servants are more interested in caring for the souls of men than in defending a creed. They are more concerned about helping sinners than disciplining them. They prefer compassion to confessions, and are more interested in knowing, trusting, serving, and worshipping the Lord Jesus than they are in the opinions of men about them and their work.
4. Our judgment concerning other people and their actions should never be rash and hasty, but cautious and righteous (v. 24).
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” — We must not judge by appearance. The wise man says, “It is not good to have respect of person in judgment” (Proverbs 24:23). — “Judge righteously between every man and his brother…Ye shall not have respect of persons in judgment” (Deuteronomy 1:16-17). — “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons” (James 2:1).
We are all far too quick to censure others. To the eye of man, seeing a child circumcised on the sabbath day might appear evil; but it was not. God commanded it. Neither was it evil to heal a man on the sabbath. Mercy is never wrong! Let us judge things rightly. Always judge the actions of others with the greatest lenience possible. If we must be severe, we should be severe in judging ourselves and our own actions. — “First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).
5. Unbelief is a willful, deliberate denial of that which men know; yet no man can believe on the Son of God except he be taught of God (vv. 25-29).
These men knew what they were doing. They had heard the Savior’s words. They saw his miracles. They knew that he was, after the flesh, of the royal seed of David. Yet, they willfully shut their eyes to the things they knew, because they had no spiritual knowledge. Their heads were full of facts; but they did not know God. “Willingly ignorant” (2 Peter 3:5) men and women shut their eyes against the plainest facts and most undeniable doctrines, because they will not bow to and trust the crucified Christ as their Lord and Savior. Men will not believe what they do not want to believe (John 6:44-47). So they “hold” (hold down, suppress) “the truth in unrighteousness.”
6. Our great God and heavenly Father rules and overrules all things, even the will of man, to accomplish His own will (v. 30).
So magnificently wise and great is our God that he even rules the very thoughts of His enemies, ever using them only as he will, for the accomplishment of his great saving purposes of grace in the redemption of our souls. — “Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.”
All our Lord’s sufferings were voluntary, of his own will. He did not go to the cross because he could not help it. He did not die because he could not prevent his death. Neither Jew nor Gentile, Pharisee nor Sadducee, Annas nor Caiaphas, Herod nor Pontius Pilate could have injured him, except power had been given them from above. All that they did was done under the control and by the decree of God (Acts 2:23). The crucifixion was purposed in the eternal counsels of the Trinity. The sufferings and death of our Lord Jesus could not begin until the very hour which God had appointed before the world was made. This is a great mystery. But it is a blessed revelation of divine truth.
It is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to God’s saints. Let us never forget that we live in a world ruled by our God. Our heavenly Father overrules all times and events; and nothing can happen but by God’s will, purpose, and decree. The very hairs of our heads are all numbered. Neither sorrow nor sickness, nor poverty, nor persecution can touch his elect, unless God has ordained it as an instrument to help his chosen. Our times are in God’s hands (Psalm 31:15). All is well!
“Mortals are immortal here,
Until their work is done!”
7. When God shuts the door, it cannot be opened (vv. 31-34).
To some the preaching of the Gospel is “the savor of life unto life,” to others “of death unto death.” If God opens the door, none can shut it; and if God shuts the door, none can open it. Oh, may he be pleased to open to you the Door Christ Jesus and sweetly force you in. God help you now, oh, may he sweetly force you by irresistible grace to come to Christ and be saved.
“Ye sinners seek His face, whose wrath ye cannot bear;
Fly to the shelter of His cross, and find salvation there!”