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31–42. Wickedness of human nature,--honour put on
Scripture by Christ,-importance attached
47–57. Wickedness of man's natural heart,-blind
ignorance of God's enemies,-importance often
ON THE GOSPELS.
JOHN VII. 1–13.
1 After these things Jesus walked in me it hateth, because I testify of it, Galilee: for he would not walk in Jew- that the works thereof are evil. ry, because the Jews sought to kill him. 8 Go ye up unto this feast: I go not
Ź Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles up yet unto this feast; for my time is was at hand.
not yet full come. 3 His brethren therefore said unto 9 When he had said these words unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judæa, them, he abode still in Galilee. that thy disciples also may see the works 10 | But when his brethren were gone that thou doest.
up, then went he also up unto the feast, 4 For there is no man that doeth any not openly, but as it were in secret. thing in secret, and he himself seeketh 11 Then the Jews sought him at the to be known openly. If thou do these feast, and said, Where is he? things, shew thyself to the world.
12 And there was much murmuring 5 For neither did his brethren believe among the people concerning him : for in him.
some said, He is a good man: others 6 Then Jesus said unto them, My said, Nay ; but he deceiveth the people. time is not yet come : but your time is 13 Howbeit no man spake openly of alway ready..
him for fear of the Jews. 7 The world cannot bate you; but |
The chapter we now begin is divided from the preceding one by a wide interval of time. The many miracles which our Lord wrought, while He “walked in Galilee,'' are passed over by St. John in comparative silence. The events which he was specially inspired to record, are those which took place in or near Jerusalem.
We should observe in this passage the desperate hardness and unbelief of human nature. We are told that even our Lord's “ brethren did not believe in Him."
Holy and harmless and blameless as He was in life, some of his nearest relatives, according to the flesh, did not receive Him as the Messiah. It was bad enough that His own people, “ the Jews sought to kill Him." But it was even worse that “His brethren did not believe.”
That great Scriptural doctrine, man's need of preventing and converting grace, stands out here, as if written with a sun-beam. It becomes all who question that doctrine to look at this passage and consider. Let them observe that seeing Christ's miracles, hearing Christ's teaching, living in Christ's own company, were not enough to make men believers. The mere possession of spiritual privileges never yet made any one a Christian. All is useless without the effectual and applying work of God the Holy Ghost. No wonder that our Lord said in another place, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” (John vi. 44.)
The true servants of Christ in every age will do well to remember this. They are often surprised and troubled to find that in religion they stand alone. They are apt to fancy that it must be their own fault that all around them are not converted like themselves. They are ready to blame themselves because their families remain worldly and unbelieving. But let them look at the verse before us. In our Lord Jesus Christ there was no fault either in temper, word, or deed. Yet even Christ's own “ brethren did not believe in Him.”
Our blessed Master has truly learned by experience how to sympathize with all His people who stand alone.
This is a thought “full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort." He knows the heart of every isolated believer, and can be touched with the feeling of his trials. He has drunk this bitter cup. He has passed through this fire. Let all who are fainting and cast down, because brothers and sisters despise their religion, turn to Christ for comfort, and pour out their hearts before Him. He “has suffered Himself being tempted” in this way, and He can help as well as feel. (Heb. ii. 18.)
We should observe, for another thing, in this passage, one principal reason why many hate Christ. We are told that our Lord said to His unbelieving brethren, “The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.”
These words reveal one of those secret principles which influence men in their treatment of religion. They help to explain that deadly enmity with which many during our Lord's earthly ministry regarded Him and His Gospel. It was not so much the high doctrines which He preached, as the high standard of practice which He proclaimed, which gave offence. It was not even His claim to be received the Messiah which men disliked so much, as His witness against the wickedness of their lives. In short, they could have tolerated His opinions if He would only have spared their sins.
The principle, we may be sure, is one of universal application. It is at work now just as much as it was eighteen hundred years ago. The real cause of many people's dislike to the Gospel, is the holiness of living