Lesson 34: John 7:1-13 – Murder or Manslaughter?

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

You're listening to Lesson 34 from the sermon series "The Gospel of John" by Pastor Ricky Kurth. When you're done, explore more sermons from this series.



The nation of Israel was obviously guilty of pre-meditated murder (7:1), but Peter reduced their charge to manslaugh-ter (Acts 3:17). But how could he do this, when Israel was so obviously guilty of murder? The law said murderers must die (Num.35:16), and not even God can bend the rules

Peter was employing a legal loophole. His use of the word “ignorantly” reminds us of Deuteronomy 19:4, where God draws a difference between murder and manslaughter (v.1-13). But how could Peter say they killed the Lord ignorant-ly? Israel’s law said blasphemers must die, and they thought He was blaspheming saying He was God. They could have known He was God from the prophets, and indeed should have known, but the fact is they didn’t know, and so Peter allowed that they killed Him in “ignorance.”

What should Israel have done in response to this reduced charge? Well, under the Law, a manslayer was to “flee” to a city of “refuge” (Num. 35:10-12). Hebrews 6:18-20 speaks of Hebrews who had “fled for refuge” to Christ. The Old Testament cities of refuge were types of Christ. He prayed “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”—in other words, they killed Him ignorantly! Usually the defense looks for loopholes like this, but with Christ, the murder victim looked for the loophole.

The Greek word for “Jewry” (7:1) is usually translated Judaea, and is a term of derision (Dan.5:13). Because Jerusalem Jews were trying to kill the Lord, God used this term of her. The name Judaea is taken from Judah, which means “he shall be praised,” but there was nothing praiseworthy about trying to kill the Lord. Since they weren’t living up to their great name, God changed it here.

Tabernacles (7:2) was one of the 3 feasts each adult male Jew was required to attend. The Lord’s half brothers told Him to go show His miracles to Jerusalem disciples, since all His local disciples left Him (7:3 cf. 6:66). They argued that no man who wants to be famous or “known openly” does miracles in secret in Galilee (7:4). They thought the Lord wanted to be famous, and showing miracles in the spiritual headquarters of the world would be showing them “to the world” (7:4). But they said this not to be helpful, but because they didn’t believe on Him (7:5). They perhaps thought the sophisticated Jerusalem leaders would see through His “fake” miracles. Or if He succeeded, they could capitalize on His fame.

When the Lord spoke of His “hour” He meant the cross, but when He said “My time is not yet come” (7:6), in context He meant the time for Him to be “known openly” in the kingdom. He told His unsaved family “your time is always ready” because unbelievers are always ready to be famous!

The world hated Him because He told the world of its sins (7:7). But how could He not go to the required feast (7:8,9)? Ah, He said He wasn’t going “yet,” perhaps fearing His brethren would sell Him out as Joseph’s brethren did. He knew Joseph was a type of Himself.

When He said His time was not yet “full come” for Him to be famous, it had kind of come. Tabernacles (7:2) was Israel’s last feast, a type of the last number on her program, the kingdom. It had come in type, but not in full. Later when it says “the day of Pentecost had fully come” (Acts 2:1), it meant the fulfillment of all previous Pentecosts had come when the Spirit came. But while the feast of Tabernacles had come, it was not yet fully time for the kingdom.

The Lord of course finally went to the feast (7:10) because to not go would be disobedience to the Law He was made under (Gal.4:4). The Jews who were looking to kill Him (John 7:1) were looking for Him when He got there (7:11). They knew He had to come to the feast, so thought they had him for sure, as Saul thought he had David, who he thought had to come to the new moon (I Samuel 20).

Christ always divided men into those who believed on Him, and those who didn’t (7:12). At this point in time, some believers feared to speak of Him (7:13), but denying Him later would cost them their souls (Luke 12:9 cf. Pr.29:25).

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