Rivers of water coming out of a believer’s belly (7:38) is just a figure of speech! But what does it mean? Well, did you notice the Lord said that living water would come out of the believer’s belly? How’d it get in there? By believing (John 4:10,13,14). This living water was symbolic of eternal life (cf.Isa.12:3). And if gets in a believer by believing, it flows out of a believer when he shares the gospel.
Of course, the gospel didn’t exactly flow from the 12 apostles—until Pentecost! And that’s what the Lord goes on to say He was talking about (John 7:39). Why is the water said to flow from the believer’s belly? The belly is often a Bible name for the womb (cf.Jer.1:5), and just as a womb gives life, when you share the gospel others are born again and they are given eternal life. But this flowing would have to wait until the Lord was “glorified” (7:39) by God when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand (Acts 3:13).
Why would some think the Lord was the Prophet like unto Moses that Moses predicted would come (John 7:40 cf. Deut.18:15)? The Lord just said to come to Him if they thirsted (John 7:37), and when Israel thirsted in the wilderness, they came to Moses! Others thought He was Christ, not knowing that prophet would be Christ (7:41).
Still others doubted Christ could come out of Galilee (v.41), thinking He had to come from Bethlehem (v.42 cf. Micah 5:2), and they didn’t know He was born there. But they could have known Christ could come from Galilee from reading Isaiah (Mt.4:14-16).
There is always a “division” among people when the truth is preached (John 7:43), but that’s okay, the Lord came to cause divisions (Luke 12:51-53). Not intentionally, of course. He just intended to preach the truth, and knew it would divide those who believe it from those who don’t. If everyone likes what you say, you are probably a false prophet (Luke 6:26).
The “officers” the Pharisees sent to take the Lord (John 7:31,32) came back empty handed (7:45), saying no man ever spake like He spake (v.46). Isaiah 53:1,2 indicates they were not impressed by the sound of His words, but by the content of His doctrine. People were just as impressed with His words as they were with His miracles.
The Pharisees perceived the Lord as a threat to their position, so had probably sent the best officers of the best, and were understandably surprised when these good men were “deceived” by the Lord (John 7:47). They point out that none of Israel’s leaders had believed on Him (v.48). Grace believers are familiar with this argument! People ask us, “Do Charles Stanley or John Macarthur believe what you believe? If not, you must be deceived!” Of course, one of the “rulers” had believed on Him (Mt.9:18-26), and one of the Pharisees was considering it (John 3:1,2).
It wasn’t true that the people didn’t know the Law (John 7:49), for some knew He was the prophet Moses predicted, and others knew He was Christ! But even it if were true, this said more about the rulers than the people, for it was the job of the rulers to teach the people!
In John 3, Nicodemus questioned the Lord, here we see him speaking up for Him (7:50,51), and in John 19 we see him boldly standing for Him. After hearing his peers say the people didn’t know the Law, he wisely pointed out that their Law said they couldn’t judge Christ till they had heard Him! If they disagreed, it would show they didn’t know the law! Of course, they showed they didn’t know the Law when they said no prophet would arise out of Galilee (7:52), for Jonah rose out of Galilee (II Kings 14:25).
Every man went to his own home (John 7:53), but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives (8:1) because “the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head” (Mt.8:20). Think about that the next time you crawl into your sleep number bed and fire up the electric blanket!