37 ¶ In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) 40 Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. 41 Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? 42 Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? 43 So there was a division among the people because of him. 44 And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him.
Leviticus 23:33 ¶ And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 34 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD. 35 On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 36 Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.
On the last day of the feast, Jesus stood and spoke when the maximum number of people would be there to hear Him, no man having arrested Him as the impulse to do that was denied by God due to His timetable. The officers themselves would not have known that it was God preventing them as they would have assumed they made their own decision but that is how God works in manipulating the hearts and minds of men to do His bidding while at other times influencing them and at other times giving them wisdom and understanding and then even at other times permitting their free will to exert its own weight in full.
With regard to verse 38, while there is no individual Scripture to be found regarding this it appears that Christ has drawn together several Scriptures to make this point. See all the Scriptures that compare what God has to give us with water. Examples are;
Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:
58: 11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
While it is certainly acceptable for the author of Scriptures to show us an application He intended by drawing together several passages to create a doctrine it is certainly questionable for a human preacher to take verses completely out of context to make a point not clearly presented in the context. We know God’s agenda in His ministry as Jesus but we do not know a human preacher’s agenda. If we are going to draw many verses together to reveal a doctrine it better be just what God has already revealed by His own clear statements or the clear statements of the writers to whom He has given certain inspiration.
John writes that Jesus is making this reference to the Holy Spirit which would come, filling His believers, and acting on the world through them. We are to be conduits for God’s will to flow using talents, skills, and abilities He has provided us to impact a lost world.
While some insist that this is the Prophet that Moses spoke of others acknowledge that He must be the expected Messiah, the Christ. Some, though, not realizing that He was born in Bethlehem, doubt simply because He had lived in and came from Nazareth of Galilee.
Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
People did not agree, then, on His legitimacy and while there were those who wanted to grab Him to shut Him up there was too much disagreement for anything to be done.
45 ¶ Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? 46 The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. 47 Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? 48 Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? 49 But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed. 50 Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them, 51 Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? 52 They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet. 53 And every man went unto his own house.
The officers sent by the chief priests then returned empty-handed. They were too impressed with Jesus’ gracious speech to be able to arrest Him. This is clearly the hand of God in preventing and arranging events. It is a rare occasion in history when police refuse to arrest someone just because they were impressed with his speech.
Nicodemus, if you remember from chapter 3, was a secret follower of Jesus within the leadership. He came to Jesus by night back in chapter 3, which this is a reference to and if your favorite Bible version leaves out the, “by night,” that is one more example that should cause you to question whether it is a version you should use. Just read John 3:1,2 and compare.
The last verse in this passage has everyone going home. This is the first verse of a disputed passage which I will discuss in the next chapter. It is disputed by scholars whose minds have been poisoned by the declarations of the Counter-Reformation, the Enlightenment, and apostate German theology of the eighteenth century. This thinking resulted in the Protestant Bibles we have today.