The feast of tabernacles (John 7:2) was also known as the feast of booths. The Jews had to dwell in booths to memor-ialize how they dwelt in booths in the wilderness (Lev.23: 42,43). The Lord went up to Jerusalem in the “midst” of this 8 day feast (John 7:14). Why’d He wait 4 days?
To soften them up. Dwelling 4 nights in a booth reminded them of how they dwelt in booths in the wilderness because of their rebellion against the doctrine of Moses. He was hoping that once softened up, they wouldn’t rebel against His doctrine. Also, on the feast’s first day they offered 13 bullocks, on the second day 12, etc., God’s way of teaching them that by sacrificing less they should be sinning less. He hoped this might affect their plans to kill Him!
This was the Lord’s third trip to the temple. In the first trip, He cleansed the temple (John 2), in the second trip he healed a man (John 5), and now He was teaching. This is symbolic of how at His second coming He will cleanse the temple, then heal His people, then begin to teach them.
You used to hear about “a man of letters,” a man of education. Not knowing letters (7:15) meant the Lord hadn’t been to their schools, which only taught the traditions of the rabbis, their doctrine. That’s why the Lord replied, “My doctrine is not mine” (v.16). This statement should have identified Him as Messiah (Deut.18:18).
Some think only the elect will know if Christ’s doctrine is true, but John 17:17 says if any man will do His will, he’ll know if His doctrine is of God. The Lord’s message was “repent” (Mt.4:17). Men who thought they had nothing of which to repent rejected it. Men who were willing to do God’s will and repent recognized it as doctrine from God.
Preachers should not seek their own glory by preaching themselves, but the glory of the one who sent them (John 7:18cf.IICor.4:5). The Lord sought His Father’s glory (John 7:18). He was always saying that His Father did the works, not Him, and that His doctrine was God’s, not His own.
It was true that there was “no unrighteousness” in the Lord (7:18), but why would He say this? He was beginning to respond to their charge that it was unrighteous for Him to heal on the Sabbath (cf. v.23) as He had done in John 5.
Moses gave them the Law that said “thou shalt not kill,” but they didn’t keep it (John 7:19), they were trying to kill Him—for breaking the Law! The Lord brings this up here to point out their hypocrisy and inconsistency. They played dumb (v.20), saying he was possessed. Possessed people acted crazy (Mt.17:15; Mark 5:5), so they were saying He was crazy for thinking they were trying to kill Him.
The Lord had done many miracles, but only “one work” of which they disapproved (John 7:21), i.e. healing on the Sabbath. The Lord knew they thought Moses was better than Christ, since Christ admitted His doctrine was not His own. They thought Moses didn’t get anything from anyone, but the Lord points out that Moses got circumcision from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (John 7:22).
The Lord points out that He may have healed on the Sabbath, but they themselves circumcised babies on the Sabbath if it fell on the 8th day (7:23 cf. Mt.12:5). The Lord was pointing out they should have been more concerned with the spirit of the law than with the letter of it. Instead they judged Him according to the outward “appearance” of what He had done (v.24).
They denied trying to kill Him, but it was common knowledge (v.25). He spoke to the leaders like no one dared speak to them (v.26). Some of the people sounded like they believed on Him (v.26), “howbeit” they weren’t sure (v.27). They knew where Christ came from, and mistakenly thought that no one could know where Messiah would come from (cf. Mt.2:1-6; 19-23), so they figured He couldn’t be Messiah.
They knew where He came from, but they didn’t know who He came from (John 7:28). And they didn’t know the Lord (v.28), an expression that means they weren’t saved (ISam.2:12 cf. Jer.31:34).