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which it demands. Teach abstract doctrines only, and few will find any fault. Denounce the fashionable sins of the day, and call on men to repent and walk consistently with God, and thousands at once will be offended. The true reason why many profess to be infidels and abuse Christianity, is the witness that Christianity bears against their own bad lives.- Like Ahab, they hate it, “ because it does not prophesy good concerning them, but evil.” (1 Kings xxii. 8.)
We should observe, lastly, in this passage, the strange variety of opinions about Christ, which were current from the beginning. We are told that “there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man; others said, Nay, but he deceiveth the people.” The words which old Simeon had spoken thirty years before, were here accomplished in a striking manner. He had said to our Lord's mother, “This child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; —that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke ii. 34, 35.) In the diversities of opinion about our Lord which arose among the Jews, we see the good old man's saying fulfilled.
In the face of such a passage as this, the endless differences and divisions about religion, which we see on all sides, in the present day, ought never to surprise us. The open hatred of some toward Christ, the carping, fault-finding, prejudiced spirit of others,— the bold confession of the few faithful ones,—the timid, man-fearing temper of the many faithless ones,—the
unceasing war of words and strife of tongues with which the Churches of Christ are so sadly familiar,—are only moderu symptoms of an old disease. Such is the corruption of human nature, that Christ is the cause of divisions among men, wherever He is preached. So long as the world stands, some, when they hear of Him, will love, and some will hate,—some will believe, and some will believe not. That deep prophetical saying of His will be continually verified : “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth : I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Matt. x. 34.)
What think we of Christ ourselves? This is the one question with which we have to do. Let us never be ashamed to be of that little number who believe on Him, hear His voice, follow Him, and confess Him before men. While others waste their time in vain jangling and unprofitable controversy, let us take up the cross and give all diligence to make our calling and election sure. The children of this world may hate us, as it hated our Master, because our religion is a standing witness against them. But the last day will show that we chose wisely, lost nothing, and gained a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
NOTES. JOHN VII. 1–13. 1.- [After these things Jesus walked in Galilee.] These words cover a
space of about six months. The events of the last chapter took place about the time of the Passover, in spring. The events of the chapter we now begin took place in autumn, at the feast of tabernacles. What our Lord did in Galilee during these six months St. John passes over in silence. His Gospel, with the exception of the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 6th chapters, is almost entirely taken up with
our Lord's doings in or near Jerusalem. He was, at this period of His ministry, entirely absent from Jerusalem, it would seem, for about eighteen months.
The expression “walked” must be taken figuratively. It simply means, that our Lord “lived, dwelt, sojourned, was going to and fro, and passing His time.” The Greek word is in the imperfect tense, and denotes a continuous action or habit.
[He would not walk in Jewry. This would be more literally rendered, “He did not will, or desire, or choose to walk.” The use of the word “Jewry” by our translators is to be regretted, and seems uncalled for. The Greek word so rendered is the same that is rendered “Judæa" in the third verse.
[Because the Jews sought to kill him.] By "the Jews" we must understand the leaders and rulers of the Jewish nation. There is no proof that the lower orders felt the same enmity that the upper classes did against our Lord. “The common people heard Him gladly.” (Mark xii. 37.) The depth and bitterness of this hatred against Christ may be seen in their wish to kill Him. It seems to have been a settled plan with the Jews from the time when the miracle was wrought at the pool of Bethesda. (John v. 16, 18.) They could neither answer Him, nor silence Him, nor prevent the common people listening to Him. They resolved therefore to kill Him.
Our Lord's example recorded in this verse shows clearly that Christians are not meant to court martyrdom, or wilfully expose themselves to certain death, under the idea that it is their duty.
Many primitive martyrs seem not to have understood this. 2.-[Jews' feast of tabernacles.] This expression, like many others
in St. John's Gospel, shows that he wrote for the Gentiles, who knew little of Jewish customs and feasts. Hence the Jews' feast."
The feast of tabernacles was one of the three great feasts in the Jewish year, when, by God's command, all pious Jews went up to Jerusalem. (Deut. xvi. 16.) It was held in autumn, after the completion of the harvest, in the seventh month. The time of the Jewish “Passover” answered to our Easter, “Pentecost” to our Whitsuntide, and “Tabernacles" to our Michaelmas. The seventh month was remarkable for the number of ordinances which the law of Moses required the Jews to observe. On the first day was the feast of trumpets, on the tenth day was the day of atonement, and on the fifteenth began the feast of tabernacles.
There are several things peculiar to the feast of tabernacles, which ought to be remembered in reading this chapter, because some of them throw light on it. (1) It was an occasion of special mirth and rejoicing with the Jews. They were ordered to dwell in booths, or tabernacles made of branches, for seven days, in remembrance of their dwelling in temporary booths when they came out of Egypt, and to "rejoice before the Lord.” (Lev. xxiii. 39–43. (2) It was a feast at which more sacrifices were offered up than at any of the Jewish feasts. (Num. xxix. 12--34.) (3) It was a feast at which, once every seven years, the law was publicly read to the whole people. (4) It was a feast at which water was drawn from the pool of Siloam every day with great solemnity, and poured upon the altar, while the people sung the 12th chapter of Isaiah. (5) It was a feast which followed close on the great day of atonement, when the peculiarly typical ordinances of the scapegoat, and the High Priest going once in the year into the holy of holies, were fresh in the minds of the people. These things should be carefully noted, and remembered, as we read through the chapter.
Josephus calls the feast of tabernacles “ the holiest and greatest feast of the Jews.” It was a Rabbinical saying, “The man who has not seen these festivities does not know what a jubilee is.”
Whether this very year, when our Lord went to the feast of tabernacles, was the precise seventh year in which the public reading of the law took place, we cannot now know for certainty. Whether the custom of dwelling in booths was literally kept up when our Lord was on earth may also be matter of question. It certainly had not been observed for many years in the days of Nehemiah. (Neh. viii. 17.) But that this feast was kept up with extraordinary festivity and rejoicing in the latter days of the Jewish dispensation is testified by all Jewish writers.
It was in the middle of this public rejoicing, and the concourse of Jews from every part of the world, that the things recorded in this chapter took place. It stands to reason that all that our Lord said and did this week must have been more than usually public, and would necessarily attract great attention.
Wordsworth, Burgon, and others, consider the feast of tabernacles to have been a very significant type of our Lord's incarnation. I confess that I am unable to see it. If the feast was typical at all, which is not certain, I venture the conjecture, that it was meant to be a type of our Lord's second advent. My reasons are these :
(a.) It was the last in order of the Jewish feasts every year, and formed the completion of the annual routine of Mosaic ordinances. It wound up all.
(6.) It was kept at the end of harvest, when the year's work was done, and the fruits were all gathered in.
(c.) It was an occasion of special rejoicing and festivity, more than any of the feasts. The dwelling in booths seems to have been a circumstance of the feast less essential than the rejoicing.
(d.) It followed immediately after the feast of trumpets, and the day of atonement. On that day the High Priest went into the holy of holies and then came out to bless the people. (See Isa. xxvii, 13; 1 Thes. iv. 16.)
(e.) It followed immediately after the jubilee every fiftieth year. That jubilee, and proclamation of liberty to all, was in the seventh month.
(f.) It is that special feast which, after the Jews are restored and Jerusalem rebuilt, the nation are yet to keep in the future kingdom of Christ. (Zech. xiv. 16.)
I venture this conjecture with much diffidence ; but I think it deserves consideration. In the six points I have mentioned, I see much more of the second advent than of the first. To my eyes the feast of passover was a type of Christ crucified ;—the feast of pentecost, of Christ sending forth the Holy Ghost in this dispensation ;—the feast of tabernacles, of Christ coming again to gather His people in one joyous company, to reap the harvest of the earth, to wind up this dispensation, to come forth and bless His people,
and to proclaim a jubilee to all the earth. 3.-His brethren.] Who these “ brethren” were is a matter of dis
pute. Some think, as Alford, Stier, and others, that they were literally our Lord's own brethren, and the children of Mary by Joseph, born after our Lord's birth. (See Psalm lxix. 8.)—Some think, as Theophylact and others, that they were the children of Joseph by a former marriage, and brought up by Mary under the same roof with our Lord. — Others think, as Augustine, Zwingle, Musculus, and Bengel, that the word “brethren" does not necessarily mean more than cousins or kinsmen. (See 1 Chron. xxiii. 22.) This is the most probable opinion. I take these “brethren” to have been relatives and kinsmen of Joseph and Mary, living at Nazareth, or Capernaum, or elsewhere in Galilee, — who naturally observed all our Lord's doings with interest and curiosity, but at present did not believe on Him. To suppose, as some do, that these brethren were some of our Lord's Apostles, is to my mind a most improbable theory, and flatly contrary to the 5th verse of this chapter.
If Mary really had sons after the birth of our Lord, it certainly