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Division over who Jesus is Part II

Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”

The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come?” On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this, he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given since Jesus had not yet been glorified. On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still, others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” Thus, the people were divided because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. John 7:33-44

Observation: What are the passage’s basic facts, such as the meaning of the words? The language used by Jesus in this passage is designed to foretell His crucifixion and reveal His relationship with the Father. Jesus did not covet longevity because His death was a necessary part of His mission to redeem humanity. What He said in verses 33, and 34, created a stir in the crowd and exposed the spiritual dullness of the Jews. After all, this was not the first time Jesus foretold his death and return to the Father. However, because they did not understand the mission and ministry of Jesus, they did not know what He meant when He said, “You will look for me, but you will not find me,” and “where I am, you cannot come.”

That statement was probably more shocking to the disciples of Jesus who may have thought that Jesus was about to abandon them. It certainly provided justification to the enemies of Jesus to claim that He was insane and that His message should not be taken seriously. This was after all part of the failed strategy of the religious leaders to paint Jesus as a delusional teacher who should not be trusted.

In verse 37, Jesus elevates the theological temperature of His teaching by extending an invitation to anyone who is thirsty to come to Him and drink. This was not the first time Jesus used the analogy of water and thirst to describe the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of those who believe in Him. “The Feast of Tabernacles lasted eight days. All through the first seven days water from the Pool of Siloam was carried in a golden pitcher and poured out at the altar to remind everyone of the water God miraculously provided for a thirsty Israel in the wilderness. It seems that on the eighth day there were no pouring of water – only prayers for water – to remind them that they came into the Promised Land.” Therefore, Jesus leveraged the focus on water to present the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Jews.

Interpretation: What did the author mean in his historical setting? Since the onset of His ministry, Jesus made several references to the Holy Spirit (John 3:5-8; Matthew 3:11). In verse 38, He makes clear that the Holy Spirit comes from Him. It is the Spirit that will sustain those who believe in Him after His ascension. The language of living water is probably taken out from Isaiah 55:1.This was the last feast-time Jesus would spend in Jerusalem before the Passover of His death. This was the last day of the last feast; the last time He would speak to many of them before His crucifixion.”

Verse 39 explains what Jesus meant when He invited the Jews to come to Him as the spring of living water. The prerequisite for receiving the Holy Spirit as offered by Jesus was faith in Him. This was exactly the issue that caused confusion among the Jews. Some believed that Jesus was a prophet, others thought He was the Messiah, and for some, He was a lawbreaker and heretic. Even those who believed He was the Messiah struggled with the fact that He was from Galilee and not Bethlehem as was prophesied.

Verse 43 says the people were divided because of Jesus. That type of division was troubling to the religious authorities, particularly since this was during a major religious celebration. It was also threatening to the religious sensibilities of the Jews who rejected Jesus as the Messiah and thought that He was demon-possessed. The only way to bring an end to that division was to arrest Jesus. Verse 44 says they tried to seize him yet again, but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come.

Evaluation: What does this passage mean in today’s culture? Jesus’ message about leaving and going to a place that the Jews could not go has been proven to be at the heart of the theological hope for all who believe in Jesus as the Savior of the world. It is because Jesus ascended that we preach Jesus as the Savior of the world. His ascension to heaven gives believers the credibility and the courage to proclaim Him as the resurrected Savior.

Believers in today’s culture should remain encouraged and committed to preaching Jesus to a spiritually dying world. But we should also remind one another of the gift of the Holy Spirit given to us by Jesus. The Holy Spirit that Jesus promised in this passage became the enabler and the source of spiritual strength that have been sustaining believers since the ascension of Jesus. Just as was the case in this passage, there is still a need to remind believers of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the world. We need to understand that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ given to us by our Savior to help sustain us as we journey to heaven.

Application: How can I apply what I learned to how I live my life? Jesus offered the Holy Spirit to those who would believe in Him because He knew the Christian life could not be lived without the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the repository of spiritual strength for all believers. I cannot do the great commission work of Jesus without the Holy Spirit. That means, my life must be Spirit-led, and Christ-centered.

The Holy Spirit should inform my decisions and direct my every step, so I do not go out of fellowship with the Triune God. Ultimately, I want to live a life that reflects my commitment to be with Jesus in heaven. The Jews could not go where Jesus went because many of them did not believe in Him as the Savior of the world. There should be no doubt in my mind and heart about who Jesus is and what He has done for me. The way I live my life should reflect that faith.

Prayer- Holy Father, please saturate my life with your Holy Spirit so I can honor you in all my ways. Please pour out your Spirit in your Church so it can be revived and rededicated to the great commission work of Jesus Christ.

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