New Testament Lesson 15 (John 7–8)
Turning Toward Jerusalem
● Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “It was autumn in Galilee. The annual Feast of the Tabernacles was near at hand, and Jesus, like many of his Jewish countrymen, was planning to attend the great celebration in Jerusalem . . . Jesus was leaving Galilee forever; his great Galilean ministry was ended. In Judea and Perea his voice would yet be heard, his mighty works seen. But the course of his life was toward the cross, and he was steadfast and immovable in his determination to follow this very course, one laid out for him by his Father. He had said of himself through the mouth of Isaiah, ‘I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.’ (Isaiah 50:7) Clearly, there was to be no turning back.”1
● The festival was an unusual opportunity for Jesus to publicly declare his divine mission, and His disciples urged Him to do so (John 7:1–9).
— His disciples said: “If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world.”
— Jesus rejected the suggestion, and delayed his departure for a few days.
— “Go ye up unto this feast,” he told his brethren.
● Jesus was protected until the time came for his sacrifice (John 7:8, 30; 8:20, 59).
● Then “when the time came . . . [Jesus] stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).
JESUS ATTENDS THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES
The Controversy Concerning Jesus
● The Feast of Tabernacles was an annual Jewish feast held six months after the Feast of the Passover [the first week of October]. It lasted eight days and commemorated the Lord’s blessings to the children of Israel during their travels in the wilderness. It also celebrated the year’s harvest and marked the end of the harvest season. The Jews considered this feast the greatest and most joyful of all their feasts.2
● The people anticipated his arrival and debated whether he was a man of God (John 7:10–13).
● The people were amazed at Jesus’ teachings because he was not a “man of letters” (John 7:14–15).
● Jesus’ doctrine was from God—which could be found out by doing what He taught (John 7:16–17).
● The Jews willingly broke the law of Moses—lying and seeking to kill (John 7:18–20).
● The divisions of opinion continued among the people (John 7:25–32).
Jesus Teaches Concerning “Living Water”
● The ceremony of the “outpouring of the water” was a central part of the Feast of Tabernacles. This offering was made to request rain and the success of the next year’s crops.
— Elder James E. Talmage said, “As part of the temple service incident to the feast [the Feast of Tabernacles], the people went in procession to the Pool of Siloam where a priest filled a golden ewer, which he then carried to the altar and there poured out the water to the accompaniment of trumpet blasts and the acclamations of the assembled hosts. According to authorities on Jewish customs, this feature was omitted on the closing day of the feast. On this last or ‘great day,’ which was marked by ceremonies of unusual solemnity and rejoicing, Jesus was again in the temple.”3
● The “living water” of which Jesus spoke was the Spirit, which is given to the righteous (John 7:37–38).
— Alfred Edersheim said, “Jesus stood and cried, ‘If any one thirst, let him come unto Me and drink!’ It must have been with special reference to the ceremony of the outpouring of the water, which .. was considered the central part of the service. Moreover, all would understand that His words must refer to the Holy Spirit, since the rite was universally regarded as symbolical of His outpouring.”4
● As Jesus taught, the people continued to be divided in their opinion of him (John 7:39–53). Nicodemus defended Jesus among the Sanhedrin.
A Woman Taken in Adultery Is Brought to Jesus
● We learn much about the Savior’s patterns of behavior from these verses (John 8:1–3).
● The scribes and Pharisees brought the adulterous woman to Jesus, hoping to trap Jesus into condemning the woman to death or contradicting the law of Moses (John 8:4–9).
— Jesus said that “he who is without sin” should cast the first stone.
— The hypocrisy of her accusers was that they themselves were adulterers
— They skulked away, convicted by their own consciences.
— Notice that the older men were the first to recognize their culpability
— The younger, more emotionally charged men were the last to admit guilt.
● Jesus did not approve of the woman’s sin, but he did not condemn her for it (John 8:10–11). President Spencer W. Kimball said, “Did the Lord forgive the woman? Could he forgive her? There seems to be no evidence of forgiveness. His command to her was, ‘Go, and sin no more.’ He was directing the sinful woman to go her way, abandon her evil life, commit no more sin, transform her life. He was saying, Go, woman, and start your repentance; and he was indicating to her the beginning step—to abandon her transgressions.”5
THE LIGHT, THE TRUTH, & THE GREAT “I AM”
“I Am the Light of the World”
● During the Feast of Tabernacles, the temple in Jerusalem was illuminated by flames from four huge (50 cubits high) candelabra which could be seen throughout the city.6
● Jesus took advantage of the situation to declare, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).
● Ways in which Christ is the “light of the world” (D&C 88:5–13).
Jesus Did Only His Father’s Will
● Jesus told the people in the temple that he always did the things that pleased his Father. As Jesus testified of his Father in Heaven, “many believed on him” (John 8:29–30).
● Bruce McConkie said, “Jesus was his own chief witness; again, and again, and again—both in figurative language known to and understood by his hearers, and in plain, unequivocal utterances as here—he proclaimed himself as the Messiah, the King of Israel, the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world. It is a strange thing that there are people in the world today who accept him as the greatest moral teacher of the ages and yet reject his divine Sonship. How could he be a great moral teacher, if he taught and lived a lie, if he openly proclaimed himself as the Only Begotten in the flesh without in fact being such?”7
Jesus Christ Is “The Truth”
● Jesus taught them that knowing the truth would make them free from sin (John 8:31–34).
— Elder David B. Haight, said, “You may feel at times that the Lord’s commandments restrict your freedom as compared with others. Freedom does not mean license, nor does it imply the absence of all restrictions and discipline. The Savior did not teach undisciplined, permissive-type freedom. When he said, ‘know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’ (John 8:32), he is telling us that his truth, if followed, would free us from falsity, from deception; that his gospel, if followed, would free us to gain eternal life. As the light of the gospel fills our souls, our abilities will increase. We will love our neighbors and be of sincere service in helping others.”8
● Jesus later called himself “the truth” (John 14:6 ). We know the truth by knowing the Savior.
Jesus Christ Is Jehovah
● Jesus told the unbelieving Jews that they were not children of Abraham because they did not believe or follow him, nor do the righteous works of Abraham (John 8:39–44).
● The Jews were upset by these comments about Abraham (John 8:51–53, 56–57).
● Jesus declared, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58; footnote 58b).
— I AM is the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 3:1,13–14).
— Jehovah, in Hebrew, is a variant form of I AM—they are the same being.
— Elder James E. Talmage said, “‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM.’ The true significance of this saying would be more plainly expressed were the sentence punctuated and pointed as follows: ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham, was I AM’; which means the same as had He said—‘Before Abraham, was I, Jehovah.’”9
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said:
“This is as blunt and pointed an affirmation of divinity as any person has or could make. ‘Before Abraham was I Jehovah.’ That is, ‘I am God Almighty, the Great I AM. I am the self-existent, Eternal One. I am the God of your fathers. My name is: I AM THAT I AM.’ “To Moses the Lord Jehovah had appeared, identified himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and said . . . ‘This is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.’ (Ex. 2:1–15) . . .
“That the Jews understood Jesus’ plainly stated claim to Messiahship is evident from their belligerent attempt to stone him—death by stoning being the penalty for blasphemy, a crime of which our Lord would have been guilty had not his assertions as to divinity been true. But Jesus, evidently exercising divine powers, passed unknown out of their midst.”10
● Paul explained the supremacy of Christ’s gospel to the Law of Moses by noting that the gospel of Jesus Christ was preached unto Abraham (Galatians 3:16–17).
1. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 1:439.
2. Bible Dictionary, “Feasts,” 673; Leviticus 23:34–43.
3. Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. , 402–403.
4. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah , 2:160.
5. The Miracle of Forgiveness , 165.
6. Bible Dictionary, “Feasts”.
7. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:154.
8. In Conference Report, Oct. 1973, 44; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, 41.
9. Jesus the Christ, 35.
10. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:464.