In chapter five we saw the contrast between life and religion, but the actual persecution had not started yet. The persecution began in chapter seven.
While the religionists were having a feast, they plotted to kill Jesus (7:1-2). This is an accurate picture of today’s religion, for religion, in principle, is the same today. On the one hand, the religionists worship God, while on the other hand, they plot to kill God’s real seekers. If you are a true seeker after life, you must be prepared to find that religion will attempt to kill you. This has happened from the first century down to the present time. In every century the real seekers after life have been persecuted by the religionists. Madame Guyon, for example, was imprisoned by the religionists of her day. As long as you go along with the Lord according to the inner life and not according to the outward things, you will be persecuted by the religious people.
The Lord is God the Creator (1:1, 10). However, as a man He suffered the persecution of His creatures (7:1). It was not an easy thing for the Creator to suffer the persecution from His creatures. What patience He must have had! What humiliation it must have been! But the Lord did it. Even the religious feast provided an opportunity for this persecution (7:2, 11). The religionists took advantage of the religious feast to persecute the Lord Jesus.
The persecuting Jews were seeking to kill the Lord Jesus (7:1, 21, 25, 30, 32, 34). Since the Jewish religionists were plotting against the Lord Jesus, He had to be somewhat careful. If He had been even a little careless, He would have fallen into their hands. He was not able to act freely. Although the Lord is the Almighty God, He, as a man under persecution, was limited in His activity. While the religionists were seeking to kill Him on the one hand, His unbelieving brothers were challenging Him to seek worldly glory on the other hand (7:3-4). His brothers seemed to say to Him, “Why don’t you go to Jerusalem? You should make a big name for yourself.” Both the persecution of the Jews and the challenge from His brothers came from one enemy, Satan. Satan stirred up the Jews to seek to kill the Lord and he stirred up His unbelieving brothers to challenge Him to go to Jerusalem and to make a name for Himself that He might receive glory. The situation is the same today. Occasionally some brothers propose that we do certain things to get a name and be publicized. But it is awful to be publicized and to have a name. If you are going to have a name, it is better to get a bad name.
In 7:6-9 we see that the Lord was limited in time. The Lord said to His brothers, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready” (7:6). Although the Lord is the eternal, infinite, unlimited God (Rom. 9:5), He lived on earth as a man, limited even in the matter of time. The Lord was willing to lose His freedom, to be bound in the matter of time, and to do the will of the Father so that He could minister the living water of life to us. The whole of chapter seven reveals how the Lord acted as a man limited in every respect.
The Lord is the Almighty God (Isa. 9:6), but as a man under persecution He was limited in His activity (John 7:10). He would not act freely. Although the Lord is the omniscient God, He, as a lowly man, appeared to be illiterate. “The Jews then marveled and said, How does this man know letters, having never learned?” (7:15). Although the Lord had little education, He knew everything. He not only knew the letters; He knew the minds, hearts, and spirits of men. The Lord would not seek His own glory, but the glory of God (7:17-18).
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