“Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? And here He is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to Him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where He comes from.” So Jesus proclaimed, as He taught in the temple, “You know Me, and you know where I come from. But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent Me is true, and Him you do not know. I know Him, for I come from Him, and He sent me.” So they were seeking to arrest Him, but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. Yet many of the people believed in Him. They said, “When the Christ appears, will He do more signs than this man has done?”” (John 7:25–31, ESV) (Caps added to pronouns in ESV referring to God the Father, Son, and Spirit)
Imagine the crowd realizing that the man standing before them speaking in the open was the very man that the Jewish leaders were seeking to kill. Rather than running to hide, He boldly taught in the temple right under their noses. And beyond that the ones who were seeking after Him stood there motionless in regard to taking any action. They said nothing to Him. When He wasn’t there they were aggressively pursuing Him, but when He stood right in their midst they said and did nothing. Thinking on this some of them began to wonder if maybe those who had been seeking after Jesus really knew that He was the Christ, and as such were afraid to take any action.
This was likely quite perplexing to them. On the one hand His knowledge of Scripture and His ability to speak about the things of God evidenced learning far beyond what they could imagine Him having. His works were undeniably works that exceeded the abilities of a mere man. There truly was something special about this man. But on the other hand, they knew where He was from and they knew His common upbringing. These opposing things did not add up to them. Add to that, some rabbis were teaching that no one would know who the Messiah was or where He would come from until He appeared on the scene to establish His salvation (ESV Study Bible). This view may have grown from a misunderstanding of Scriptures (Isaiah 53:9 and Malachi 3:1, MacArthur Study Bible).
I wondered about this statement, “when the Christ appears, no one will know where He comes from.” Having been to many Christmas programs, read through our daily advent calendar year after year, and teaching children the Christmas story, I had no doubt where Jesus would come from. After all, I read Micah 5:2 which says, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for Me One who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” (Micah 5:2, ESV) Jesus was going to be born in Bethlehem, and of course we read in Scripture that He was. This is one of those amazing fulfilled prophecies of Scripture.
While there were those in the crowd who did not know these words of Micah, we do know from the Bible that there were others who did, and they were awaiting His coming with great anticipation. But at this moment with these people, this humble man didn’t fit the mold they had formed, and in their understanding it didn’t seem likely that they could squeeze Him into it.
In response to their concerns we read, So Jesus proclaimed, as He taught in the temple, “You know Me, and you know where I come from. But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent Me is true, and Him you do not know. I know Him, for I come from Him, and He sent me.” The question had been asked if He might truly be the Christ, and Jesus responded by telling them that while they know Him in human terms, He was truly sent by One who they did not know—who is God the Father. Jesus went on to tell them that while they had not met Him (God) in the way that they meet others, Jesus did know Him, and that He indeed had come from God the Father who had sent Him. He affirmed what He had said earlier that His origin was from heaven and that His purpose was to do the will of the Father. In doing this, He answered the question that they had raised as to whether or not He was the Christ. The answer was a resounding “Yes!”
We read that those who were seeking to arrest Him did not lay a hand on Him. Their inability or refusal to take hold of Him gave cause to the people to truly wonder if the Jews knew who He really was and were afraid to touch Him because they feared Him. But as we read in these later verses we know the reason they did not touch Him was that it was not the right time. “His hour had not yet come.” He was protected by God and they were unable to take Him captive until the time was right. Jesus knew why He was there and He knew that in the right time He would be handed over to them. But He also knew until that time there was nothing they could do that would violate the perfect plan of the Father. This is a pretty amazing statement. Our God is all powerful and totally sovereign. He knows the beginning from the end, and He will do what He intends perfectly. There is nothing that man can do to thwart God’s plan or to force His hand.
Some of the crowd grasped that Jesus was something special. As they considered what He had said and what He had done they answered for themselves the question, “When the Christ appears, will He do more signs than this man has done?” Their answer was that He must be the One. There is none other that could surpass what they have already seen and heard. There was no reason to look any further, and they believed.
That question, “When the Christ appears, will He do more signs than this man has done?” is an interesting question. It might even be one that we could use as we challenge people today with believing in Jesus for their own salvation. Is there really anything else that you would expect or hope from in one who came to redeem you and to give you new life? He did not demand that you become perfect. He did not demand that you do a long list of works in order to prove yourself worthy. He came with verified power and worked incredible works in the presence of many. All of these authenticate and prove His claim of heavenly origin as the Son sent by the Father. Having come, He willingly laid down His life to pay the penalty for the things which we have done wrong, and then He took His life back up again and returned to the Father until such time that He comes again. What He expects of us in return is to believe and trust.
There will continue to be those who will not believe and who are not saved as a result. For them the only outcome is eternal judgment. We have no control over this. The amazing thing is that this is not our responsibility or even under our control. We are to be living testimonies who speak truth, who reason and plead with people, and who proclaim salvation in Christ alone. The Holy Spirit does the incredible work of opening hearts and minds to give understanding, and somehow God works this in accord with the will of man such that people respond and believe. I do not pretend to understand exactly how God does this. What I do know is that He knows everyone who is His from before time, that He calls them unto Himself, and that everyone who He calls will respond. God is so loving and gracious. There is not a single one of us that deserves anything from Him but judgment. Yet because of His great love He sent His Son to redeem us from our sins and to give us eternal life. There is no greater gift.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:4–9, ESV)