John 7

The Word Made Fresh

1After this Jesus traveled around Galilee. He didn’t feel free to go into Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him.

2The Jewish festival of Tabernacles was near, 3and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples can also see the things you’re doing. 4No one who wants to be known does things secretly. If you’re actually doing these things, show yourself to the world,” 5for his own brothers did not believe in him.

6Jesus told them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is anytime. 7The world can’t hate you, but it hates me because I speak against it and expose its wickedness. 8You can go to the festival yourselves, but I’m not going because my time isn’t here yet.” 9And he stayed in Galilee.

10But, after his brothers had gone to the festival, he also went, but secretly, not publicly. 11The Jews were looking for him at the festival and wondering where he was. 12A lot of people in the crowd there were complaining about him. Some of them were saying, “He is a good man,” while others were saying, “He’s deceiving people.” 13But no one really spoke openly about him because they were afraid of the Jews.

14Halfway through the festival Jesus began to teach in the temple. 15The Jews were surprised, and kept asking, “Where did this man get such learning when he has never been educated?”

16Jesus answered them: “My teaching is not mine, but belongs to the One who sent me. 17Whoever decides to do God’s will knows whether what I teach is from God or just from me. 18People who speak just for themselves are only showing off, but whoever is trying to reveal the glory of the One who sent him is genuine, not false. 19Didn’t Moses give you the law? But you don’t obey the law, so why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me?”

20The crowd answered, “You’re crazy! Who’s trying to kill you?”

21Jesus said, “I did one miracle, and you’re all surprised. 22Moses commanded you to circumcise (but, of course, it was passed down from the patriarchs, not Moses), and so you’ll circumcise a child on the Sabbath. 22But if you circumcise on the Sabbath to abide by the law of Moses, why are you angry with me for healing someone on the Sabbath? 23Don’t judge others by appearances; use proper judgment.”

25Some of the people in Jerusalem were saying, “Isn’t this the fellow they’re trying to kill? 26Well, here he is, speaking out in public, but they’re not saying anything. Do you think the authorities really know he is the Messiah? 27We know where he is from, but when the Messiah comes no one is supposed to know where he’s from.”

28Then Jesus called out from the temple where he was teaching, “You know me! You know where I’m from! I haven’t come here on my own, but the one who sent me is true and yet you don’t know him. 29I know him because I’m from him. He sent me!”

30At this, they tried to have him arrested, but no one grabbed him because his hour had not yet arrived. 31Still, there were a lot of people in the crowd who believed him, saying, “When the Messiah does come, will he perform more signs than this man?”

32The Pharisees heard the people saying such things, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent temple police to arrest him. 33Jesus said, “I’ll be with you a little while longer, and then I’m returning to the One who sent me. 34You’ll look for me but you won’t find me, and you can’t come where I am going.”

35The Jews argued, “Where does this fellow plan to go that we can’t find him? Is he planning to go to where Jews are dispersed among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? 36What does he mean when he says things like, ‘You’ll search for me but you won’t find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you can’t come’?”

37On the great last day of the festival Jesus cried out, standing in the temple, “Whoever is thirsty, come to me! 38If you believe in me, drink! The scriptures have said, ‘Rivers of living waters shall flow out of the believers’ hearts.’” 39He was referring to the Spirit which his believers were to receive – as yet there was no Spirit because Jesus had not yet been glorified.

40When the people heard this, some of them said, “He is really the prophet.” 41Others said, “This is the Messiah.” 42But some argued, “The Messiah doesn’t come from Galilee, does he? 42Doesn’t the scripture say the Messiah is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem where David lived?” 43The crowd was divided over Jesus. 44Some wanted him arrested, but no one laid a hand on him.

45The temple police returned to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you arrest him?” 46They said, “We’ve never heard anyone speak like this man!” 47The Pharisees said, “You haven’t been deceived, too, have you? 48Has anyone in authority or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49The crowds don’t know the law. They are confounded.”

50Nicodemus, who had met Jesus before and was one of his followers, asked, 51“Our law doesn’t judge people without first giving them a hearing to defend themselves, does it?”

52They replied, “You’re not from Galilee, too, are you? Study, and you’ll discover that no prophet will come out of Galilee.” 53Then they all went home.


1-9: Having lost many of his followers Jesus is careful to stay for a while in his home territory. His brothers want him to go to Jerusalem for the celebration of Succoth and perform a few miracles to call attention to himself, but Jesus refuses, so they go without him. John tells us that his brothers didn’t believe he was the Messiah – perhaps that is why they aren’t mentioned in the other gospels.

10-13: Even though Jesus told them he is not going, he does go incognito to find out what is being said about him. There is a lot of talk about him, but not publicly, and opinions about him fall on both sides.

14-18: Soon enough he makes a public appearance, teaching in the temple compound. The Jews are surprised. Apparently they have been of the opinion that he is an unlettered rural rabbi from the hinterlands of Galilee, but his teaching, which he has not done before at the temple in a formal way, reveals a rather extensive education. Jesus denies any special knowledge, though, saying only that his teaching comes from God.

19-24: He accuses them of charging him with breaking the law while they do the same themselves. The one work he says he performed is a reference to his healing the man at the pool of Beth-Zatha (5:2-9) on the Sabbath. Jesus points out that what he did is no more breaking the Sabbath than is their own practice of circumcising on the Sabbath.

25-31: There is much speculation in the crowds now about whether or not Jesus might be the Messiah. On the one hand, his Galilean background is against him; on the other hand, he has done some pretty powerful things. Jesus’ own statement on the subject is both clear and vague at the same time — clear to those reading about it later but vague to those hearing it of the moment – a common characteristic of his pronouncements in John’s gospel.

32-36: Police are dispatched to arrest him, sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees, but they never actually make the arrest. Jesus makes a pronouncement about going away after a little while longer, an expression we understand to be related to his coming passion, but the Jews, of course, have no clue what he is talking about.

37-39: The last day of the Festival of Booths (Succoth) involves a ritual pouring out of water in the temple by the priests. Jesus uses the occasion to call followers to himself, promising that “living water” would flow from the heart of believers. John interprets the saying as a reference to the Holy Spirit.

40-44: The disagreement among people in the crowd is not resolved by Jesus’ pronouncement. Some believe in him; others are stuck in their idea that the Messiah must come from Bethlehem. Of course, Matthew and Luke tell us that he was in fact born there.

45-52: John picks up the strain of the story from back in verse 32. The police return empty handed. The Pharisees, fundamentalists all, are beside themselves. They cannot believe that the police have been duped by this imposter. Nicodemus, who had a private conversation with Jesus (3:1-10), points out that they are judging the man without first giving him a trial. They turn on him. They have decided that the scriptures cannot support the idea that the Messiah could be a Galilean.


Judging people based on where they are from is as prevalent today as it was in Jesus’ time. Jesus’ story says to us that we should do away with those opinions and learn to accept others as they are, not as we wish they were.