Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

John 7:11-18
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: John 7:11-13
v11: The religious leaders expected Jesus to attend the rituals associated with the Feast of Booths. Each day sacrifices were conducted at the temple, so they watched for Him among the crowds and asked those who might know, “Where is that man?” (literal). vs12-13: By this point in His ministry Jesus had become a focus of national attention, and opinions about Him varied widely. As caravans of pilgrims arrived in Jerusalem from all around the region, He became a frequent topic of conversation. John said, “And there was much murmuring about Him in the crowds; some said ‘He is a good man’; others said, ‘No, but He leads the crowd astray (wanders)’” (literal).

Monday: John 7:12-13
vs12-13 (continued): John tells us that these discussions about Jesus were kept private and spoken quietly because people feared being overheard by “the Jews,” a term which meant the temple authorities and the Pharisees (vs45, 48). The dominance these religious elite exerted over the common people can be seen by their fear of speaking openly. Obviously there was no toleration for differing opinions. People were afraid to be overheard talking about Jesus, either positively or negatively. To be caught saying anything that might displease the leaders was very dangerous. The slightest transgression might cause someone to be disfellowshipped (“put out of the synagogue”) (Jn 9:22; 12:42; 16:2; Lk 6:22). That person would be denied entry to temple activities, and even barred from attending their own local synagogue (Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, E.R. Herrick and Co., Vol. 2, pp183-184).

Tuesday: John 7:14-15
v14: The Feast of Booths is a week-long festival, and there is an additional assembly held on the day afterward, which brings the total festival to eight days. So on the third or fourth day Jesus went into the temple complex and began to teach publicly. Suddenly the religious leaders had no difficulty locating Him. There He was in the temple courtyard boldly addressing a crowd of people, probably in the shaded area beneath the Portico of Solomon. v15: When they drew near and listened, what they heard caused them to marvel. They had expected to hear a biblically-ignorant man foolishly ranting his own clumsy ideas, but instead they found themselves listening to an intelligent, well-structured message that was full of spiritual insight.

Wednesday: John 7:15
v15 (continued): Jesus taught like a well-trained rabbi, but they knew He had not received that level of education. He had received only the basic education that every Jewish child received. Beginning at the age of five or six, boys and girls growing up in first-century Judaism were taught, not only at home but also in the synagogue, to read, write and recite large portions of the Torah (the five books of Moses). At age ten they began to learn the Mishnah (a collection of explanations of the text), and at 13 they went through a rite of passage called being “bound to the commandments” (“Bar Mitzvah”). Then at age 15 a few of the highly motivated and gifted young men would go on to become disciples of a rabbi. They would follow that rabbi for years, and then if they did well, they might become a rabbi themselves by about age 30 (Alfred Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life, updated edition, Hendrickson Publishers, 1994, pp100-101; Ray Vander Laan, “In the Dust of the Rabbi,” Vol. 6, #1, That the World May Know (video series), Zondervan, 2005).

Thursday: John 7:15-16
v15 (continued): We have no specific information about the education Jesus received during His early years, but when we review the normal pattern of training for Jewish children, it seems reasonable to assume that He stepped out of that educational process after He reached age 13. We know that He learned Joseph’s trade (Mt 13:55) and became a carpenter or builder (Mk 6:3), but we also know that by age 12 He was already showing brilliance in His ability to understand the Scriptures (Lk 2:41-52). So it should come as no surprise to us that now when He is in His thirties, as these religious leaders listened to Him they were astonished. They asked, “How does this man know rabbinical studies since He’s never been formally trained?” (paraphrase). And apparently they said it loudly enough for Jesus to hear them. v16: His answer indirectly acknowledged that He hadn’t learned the things He was teaching from other rabbis, but emphasized that He Himself was not the source of these truths. He said that what He was teaching He had learned from the Father, the One who sent Him to earth to become a man.

Friday: John 7:17
v17: Most religious leaders claim that their ideas were inspired by God, but how can a person test to see whether or not that claim is true? Having said that His teaching came from God, Jesus invited His listeners to verify that fact for themselves and then told them how to do it. He said the first step in discerning truth takes place inside each person. A truth seeker must first decide that they want to do God’s will before He will reveal it to them. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to do His will, he will know about the teaching, whether it is from God or I speak from Myself” (literal). In other words, the person who genuinely wants to know the truth, so that he or she can obey God, will be able to discern the difference between a teaching that originated in the human mind and one that truly came from God. To that person God will expose what’s false and confirm what’s true. This principle seems to imply that those who are led into false doctrines are actually willing participants. They choose to allow themselves to be led astray because what they’re hearing pleases them rather than deceives them. Jesus’ words contain a wonderful promise: to a sincere seeker, God will give discernment.

Saturday: John 7:18
v18: Then He gave His listeners a second test to verify that His teaching came from God. He said, “The one speaking from himself seeks his own glory, but the one seeking the glory of the One having sent Him, this one is true and unrighteousness is not in him” (literal). This test exposes the teacher’s motivation: Is that person seeking to draw people to God or themselves? The listener must examine their own inner response to a particular teacher. Did that person’s words direct the listener’s attention and affection toward God or the teacher? In other words, a key question we should ask ourselves when listening to a teaching is: Who receives the “glory” (the respect, honor, admiration, and love)? Did that teacher humbly step aside and allow me to give that “glory” to God, or did that teacher subtly shift it to him/herself? And then Jesus noted that if those who were listening to Him applied that test to His teaching, they would quickly recognize that He was seeking His Father’s glory, not His own. He explained that when a teacher’s motivation is right, he or she will lead listeners to remember those things God said to His people in the past (“true”: not forgotten) and will encourage them to walk obediently in the standards God revealed to us in His covenant-laws (“righteous”). 

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