Christ goes to the feast of tabernacles. (1-13) His discourse
at the feast. (14-39) The people dispute concerning Christ.
The brethren or kinsmen of Jesus were disgusted, when they
found there was no prospect of worldly advantages from him.
Ungodly men sometimes undertake to counsel those employed in the
work of God; but they only advise what appears likely to promote
present advantages. The people differed about his doctrine and
miracles, while those who favoured him, dared not openly to avow
their sentiments. Those who count the preachers of the gospel to
be deceivers, speak out, while many who favour them, fear to get
reproach by avowing regard for them.
Every faithful minister may humbly adopt Christ's words.
His doctrine is not his own finding out, but is from God's word,
through the teaching of his Spirit. And amidst the disputes
which disturb the world, if any man, of any nation, seeks to do
the will of God, he shall know whether the doctrine is of God,
or whether men speak of themselves. Only those who hate the
truth shall be given up to errors which will be fatal. Surely it
was as agreeable to the design of the sabbath to restore health
to the afflicted, as to administer an outward rite. Jesus told
them to decide on his conduct according to the spiritual import
of the Divine law. We must not judge concerning any by their
outward appearance, but by their worth, and by the gifts and
graces of God's Spirit in them.
Christ proclaimed aloud, that they were in error in their
thoughts about his origin. He was sent of God, who showed
himself true to his promises. This declaration, that they knew
not God, with his claim to peculiar knowledge, provoked the
hearers; and they sought to take him, but God can tie men's
hands, though he does not turn their hearts.
The discourses of Jesus convinced many that he was the
Messiah; but they had not courage to own it. It is comfort to
those who are in the world, but not of it, and therefore are
hated by it and weary of it, that they shall not be in it
always, that they shall not be in it long. Our days being evil,
it is well they are few. The days of life and of grace do not
last long; and sinners, when in misery, will be glad of the help
they now despise. Men dispute about such sayings, but the event
will explain them.
On the last day of the feast of tabernacles, the Jews
drew water and poured it out before the Lord. It is supposed
that Christ alluded to this. If any man desires to be truly and
for ever happy, let him apply to Christ, and be ruled by him.
This thirst means strong desires after spiritual blessings,
which nothing else can satisfy; so the sanctifying and
comforting influences of the Holy Spirit, were intended by the
waters which Jesus called on them to come to Him and drink. The
comfort flows plentifully and constantly as a river; strong as a
stream to bear down the opposition of doubts and fears. There is
a fulness in Christ, of grace for grace. The Spirit dwelling and
working in believers, is as a fountain of living, running water,
out of which plentiful streams flow, cooling and cleansing as
water. The miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit we do not expect,
but for his more common and more valuable influences we may
apply. These streams have flowed from our glorified Redeemer,
down to this age, and to the remote corners of the earth. May we
be anxious to make them known to others.
The malice of Christ's enemies is always against reason,
and sometimes the staying of it cannot be accounted for. Never
any man spake with that wisdom, and power, and grace, that
convincing clearness, and that sweetness, wherewith Christ
spake. Alas, that many, who are for a time restrained, and who
speak highly of the word of Jesus, speedily lose their
convictions, and go on in their sins! People are foolishly
swayed by outward motives in matters of eternal moment, are
willing even to be damned for fashion's sake. As the wisdom of
God often chooses things which men despise, so the folly of men
commonly despises those whom God has chosen. The Lord brings
forward his weak and timid disciples, and sometimes uses them to
defeat the designs of his enemies.