“Unit 14, Day 1: John 7,” New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2016)
“Unit 14, Day 1,” New Testament Study Guide
Jesus attended the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem and taught the people at the temple how they could receive a witness that His teachings were from God the Father. Because the people were contending about who He was, Jesus used images of water and light to testify of His divinity. He also taught them about the Holy Ghost.
Have you ever wondered if Jesus had brothers and sisters?
According to the scriptures, Joseph and Mary had children who were born after Jesus and who would have been raised in the same household with Him. However, because Jesus Christ was the son of Mary and God the Father, not Joseph, these individuals were Jesus’s half brothers and half sisters (see Matthew 13:55–56; Mark 6:3).
Ponder what it would have been like to grow up in the same home as Jesus.
Do you think it would be easier to believe in Him if you had grown up with Him? Why or why not?
Read John 7:1–5, looking for what John recorded about Jesus’s brethren.
Consider the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“A testimony of the divinity of Christ and of the saving power of his gospel is not bestowed automatically because of family relationship. It comes only by personal obedience to those eternal laws upon which its receipt is predicated. …
“Frequent special reference is made to the sons of Joseph and Mary as the ‘brethren’ of Jesus. … Though they were reared in the same household and came under the benign [caring] influence of Joseph and Mary, though they were aware of the teachings, ministry, and miracles of Jesus himself, yet these his close relatives had not so far accepted him as the Messiah” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:437).
Ponder the following question: How is it possible that some of Jesus’s own family members did not yet believe in Him, even though they were aware of His teachings and miracles?
After noting that at the time of the events recorded in John 7, Jesus’s brethren had not “accepted him as the Messiah,” Elder McConkie explained: “However, all of them, apparently, were converted later (Acts 1:14); one of them, identified by Paul as ‘James the Lord’s brother’ (Gal. 1:19), was to minister in the holy apostleship; and yet another, Judas, who calls himself, ‘Jude, the … brother of James’ (Jude 1), wrote the epistle of Jude” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:437).
John 7 records events that occurred during the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem (see John 7:2). During this feast, “reckoned by [the Jews] to be the greatest and most joyful of all” (Bible Dictionary, “Feasts”), many Jews traveled to Jerusalem to commemorate God’s blessings upon the children of Israel as they sojourned in the wilderness following their deliverance from slavery in Egypt (see Leviticus 23:39–43). They also celebrated and gave thanks for the yearly harvest of fruits and grains (see Exodus 23:16). This feast lasted eight days.
Notice in John 7:3–4 that Jesus’s brethren wanted Him to go to the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, apparently saying that if He really was the Messiah, He should go to Jerusalem and declare it to all the people there.
As recorded in John 7:6–10, Jesus decided to delay going to the feast, but He encouraged His brethren to go. Several days after the feast had started, He arrived in secret—knowing that some of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem wanted to kill him but that His time to die had not yet come.
Read John 7:11–13, looking for what the people in Jerusalem were saying about Jesus.
Just as in Jesus’s day, there are varying opinions of Jesus Christ in our day. Some people know and testify that He is the Son of God and Savior of all mankind. Others believe that He was a great teacher or prophet. However, other people reject the divinity of Jesus Christ and the truthfulness of His teachings or are afraid to follow Him openly. As you continue to study John 7, look for how you can know that Jesus Christ is your Savior and that His teachings are true.
The temple was the focal point of the celebrations that took place during the Feast of Tabernacles. Read John 7:14–15, looking for what Jesus did there. Consider marking in your scriptures the peoples’ reaction.
The Jews were astonished that Jesus could teach with such depth and wisdom without “letters,” or having been trained by the Jewish rabbis or attending their schools. Read John 7:16–18, looking for what Jesus said the people could do in order to know whether His doctrine, or teachings, were true. Consider highlighting who gave Jesus the doctrine He taught.
- Respond to the following in your scripture study journal:
How can someone know that Jesus Christ’s doctrine is truly from God?
From the Lord’s teachings in the temple, we learn that if we do Heavenly Father’s will, then we will receive a testimony of His doctrine. Explain why you think this principle is true.
President James E. Faust of the First Presidency said: “We acquire a testimony of the principles of the gospel by obediently trying to live them. Said the Savior, ‘If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine’ [John 7:17]. A testimony of the efficacy of prayer comes through humble and sincere prayer. A testimony of tithing comes by paying tithing” (“Lord, I Believe; Help Thou Mine Unbelief,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2003, 22).
What did President Faust teach that we must do to acquire a testimony of the principles of the gospel?
Remember that some of Jesus’s brethren did not yet believe He was the promised Messiah, but later they gained testimonies and were converted. How might the principle above have helped those family members gain testimonies of Jesus Christ and His teachings?
After quoting John 7:17, Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president, taught: “Sometimes we try to do it backward. For example, we may take this approach: I will be happy to live the law of tithing, but first I need to know that it’s true. Maybe we even pray to gain a testimony of the law of tithing and hope the Lord will bless us with that testimony before we have ever filled out a tithing slip. It just doesn’t work that way. The Lord expects us to exercise faith. We have to consistently pay a full and honest tithe in order to gain a testimony of tithing. This same pattern applies to all the principles of the gospel, whether it is the law of chastity, the principle of modesty, the Word of Wisdom, or the law of the fast” (“Be Ye Converted,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 77).
For either or both of the next two assignments, if what you feel inspired to write is too private, you may write your response in your personal journal or on a separate piece of paper and write in your scripture study journal that you completed the assignment.
- Complete the following statement in your scripture study journal by writing about a gospel commandment or principle you have come to know is true through your efforts to live it: I know is true because as I have lived it I have . Consider sharing what you wrote with someone who you think could grow by hearing your testimony.
- In your scripture study journal, write a gospel truth, commandment, or teaching that you would like to receive a stronger testimony of. Then write what you will do to receive a greater testimony of that truth, commandment, or teaching by applying the principle you learned in John 7:17.
John 7:19–36 explains that Jesus rebuked the Jewish leaders for rejecting His teachings and miracles and seeking to kill Him. These verses also relate that many people wondered if He was the Messiah and that the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to take Him.
Think of a time when you have been thirsty. Imagine that you held in your hand an empty cup. Would the empty cup satisfy your thirst? What else would you need?
Take a moment and get a drink of water. As you do, consider how necessary water is in your life. You might offer a prayer of gratitude to Heavenly Father for providing water for you and your family.
The land of Israel did not have a large supply of fresh water to meet the people’s needs. Life could only be sustained through rainfall replenishing their water supplies. Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained how water was part of “one of the most solemn and dramatic moments of Jewish worship” during the celebration that was going on:
“On each of the eight days of the feast of Tabernacles, … it was the custom, for the priest as part of the temple service, to take water in golden vessels [pitchers] from the stream of Siloam, which flowed under the temple-mountain, and pour it upon the altar. Then the words of Isaiah were sung: ‘With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.’ (Isa. 12:3.) And it was at this very moment of religious climax that Jesus stepped forth and offered draughts [drinks] of living refreshment which would satisfy the deepest spiritual cravings of the thirsty soul” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:446).
Read John 7:37–39, looking for what the Savior offered the people.
The Joseph Smith Translation of John 7:39 states that “the Holy Ghost was promised unto them who believe, after that Jesus was glorified” (Joseph Smith Translation, John 7:39 [in John 7:39, footnote b]; italics added).
The phrase “out of his belly” (John 7:38) suggests that the living water will be within and flow from the believer, rather than coming from an outside source. Consider marking in John 7:39 what the living water represents.
The Bible Dictionary explains that “for some reason not fully explained in the scriptures, the Holy Ghost did not operate in the fulness among the Jews during the years of Jesus’ mortal sojourn (John 7:39; 16:7). Statements to the effect that the Holy Ghost did not come until after Jesus was resurrected must of necessity refer to that particular dispensation only, for it is abundantly clear that the Holy Ghost was operative in earlier dispensations. Furthermore, it has reference only to the gift of the Holy Ghost not being present, since the power of the Holy Ghost was operative during the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus; otherwise no one would have received a testimony of the truths that these men taught (Matt. 16:16–17; see also 1 Cor. 12:3)” (Bible Dictionary, “Holy Ghost”).
Based on the Savior’s teachings in John 7:37–39, we learn that if we come unto Jesus Christ and believe on Him, then we will be filled with the Holy Ghost. Those filled with the Holy Ghost are able to influence others for good.
- In your scripture study journal, describe a time when you were influenced by (or filled with) the Holy Ghost and, as a result, were able to influence someone else for good.
In John 7:40–53 we read that the Pharisees again desired to have Jesus arrested. The officers who were sent to take Him heard Jesus preach. They returned without arresting Him and told the Pharisees they had never heard anyone preach as the Savior had, which angered the Pharisees. Nicodemus, the Pharisee who had come to the Savior by night (see John 3:1–2), reminded his fellow Pharisees and the chief priests that their own law would not allow an individual to be condemned until he or she was given a chance to be heard.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied John 7 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: