We need to read God’s word carefully; otherwise we can make some serious errors. When John uses the term “the Jews,” he’s usually referring to the religious leaders (although sometimes to the Jewish people as a group), but it’s always a neutral connotation at best, and most of the time it’s in a negative context, as in rejection of Jesus. Of course, it’s ludicrous to suggest, as some have, that the writers of the New Testament were Antisemitic (which would be strange since all but one of the authors in the N.T. were Jewish, all the apostles were Jewish, and the entire first generation of believers were all Jewish). But when it came to the pilgrims who made it to the feast, there was definitely a mixed reaction, which John faithfully recorded for us. It ran the entire gamut, from “He’s a con-artist and a false Messiah” to “When the Messiah comes, will he perform any more miracles than this man?” (Hinting that the speaker was starting to believe in him). The religious leaders didn’t know what to do with him, but ordered the “temple guards” to arrest him (more about them tomorrow). It looks like no one knew exactly what to think of him.
I’d like to spend just a moment on the last phrase in 27: “when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.” One of the common beliefs about the Messiah was that he'd suddenly appear out of nowhere—no birth, no hometown, no childhood, just “there.” The reason for this is because of a misinterpretation of Malachi 3:1. Obviously the Lord had already plainly predicted to them that he'd be born in
, but they hadn’t caught that part. I think that this is a great time to point out that it’s a good idea to know your Bible and be familiar with all of it, not just the parts you happen to like. This one misinterpretation closed them off from accepting their own Messiah. Bethlehem
His point in vs. 28 seems to be “You know enough about me already. You know me, or at least enough about me to make the right decision.” When he mentioned his Father again, they tried again to arrest him, but “his time had not yet come.” There'd come a time when he'd fall into their hands, and they'd have the chance to vent all that anger that'd been simmering up to that point. He'd be arrested, tried, condemned, tortured, and brutally executed, but not yet. Why? Because they were incompetent, or just weren’t quite devoted enough to his destruction? No! Jesus was on the Father’s timetable, and nothing would happen to him until that point. No one took his life from him—he would lay it down of his own free will, when the Father told him to.
Another thing to note is the last recorded reaction in today’s passage. Several of my sources found it very likely that John was being ironic, or looking backwards from his perspective years after this took place. The truth is, he did go on to “teach the Greeks” in a fashion, through his representatives. His own people, as a general rule, didn’t accept him, so eventually the Lord removed the “natural” branches and grafted in “wild olive shoots” (that’s us) into the Tree of God’s family.
Maybe you feel like the Enemy’s had carte blanche in your life, just like with Job. This is a good reminder to all of us: As God’s children, nothing can happen to us which isn’t sifted through his perfect, loving plan. He's claimed us, and we belong to him. Bad things might happen (nothing compared to the Passion, of course), but it’s all woven into the tapestry of his ultimate plan for us. Please trust him.
Father, I do trust in you, but it’s pretty shaky at times. Please help me to see that you’re in charge, and the Enemy’s not.