25 At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? 27 But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”
28 Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”
30 At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?”
32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.
33 Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”
35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? 36 What did he mean when he said,‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”
(John 7:25-36 NIV)
Jesus is at the Feast of the Tabernacles, standing in the temple courtyard, publicly teaching. Jesus has begun the third year of His ministry, and the Jewish religious leaders have turned against Him.
If today’s Scripture passage were a sermon, an apt title might be “Misunderstandings and Mayhem”. John records that no matter what Jesus says, the crowds misunderstand Him.
In verses 25 – 26, the crowd listening to Jesus is asking why the Jewish religious authorities are not doing anything about Jesus. Why has no one arrested Him? Have the authorities decided that He is Messiah? What are they to believe?
In verse 27, the crowd contradicts itself. They open the door to thinking Jesus might be the Messiah in verse 26, followed by the logic of their tradition which assumed that Messiah would drop into time and space supernaturally as an adult. Jesus couldn’t be Messiah because they had known Him since He was a baby.
In verses 28 – 29, Jesus told the crowds in a frustrated and exasperated tone, “Of course you know me!” Jesus was implying that they knew Him physically, but they did not know Him spiritually, nor did they know the Father, who had sent Him. If the crowds didn’t know the Father, there was no way they would recognize the Son.
Verse 30 is key to understanding this passage. John records that “… no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.” Even though the Jewish leaders secretly wanted to kill Jesus, God protected His Son and prevented the authorities from taking action.
Notice the shift in John’s writing as he describes units of time. Starting in John chapter 1, John begins by talking about eternity past and eternity future. As John progresses, he uses time descriptions like “seasons” and “days”. Now John is slowing down again as he talks about days and hours.
With each change in time perspective, John also narrows his camera focus a little more, with Jesus as the focal point. John the Baptizer was in the picture and is now out; the massive crowds following Him were in view and have now left Him. John continues to focus on Jesus.
The misunderstandings continue in verses 33 – 36. Jesus alludes to His death and resurrection; the Jewish officials think Jesus is talking about leaving Israel and preaching to the scattered Jews and the neighboring Greeks.
So much of what Jesus had to say in chapters 6 and 7 of John’s Gospel are reflected in the prophet Isaiah’s description of Messiah (Isaiah 55). Verse 6 especially parallels verses 33 – 34 in today’s passage:
Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
(Isaiah 55:6 NIV)
John’s shift in time perspective is a huge reminder that I need to redeem my time, to use the days the Lord has given me for His glory and not my selfish interests.
I choose to invest my time in Him and others, that they may invest their time in the Lord and others, to pass along the greatest gift the Lord has given us – His Son Jesus, the Messiah.