This is the second of three times that Jesus spoke of Himself being ‘lifted up’ (1st – Jn. 3:14; 3rd – Jn. 12:32-33). As the scripture explains in John 12:33, this was a reference to crucifixion as the means of His death. The lifting up is speaking of being lifted up from the earth and suspended on a cross in crucifixion. The Jews understood that Jesus was speaking of death.
The crucifixion didn’t just happen. It was planned by God. Does this mean that God bears all responsibility and those who were actually instrumental in the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus are not guilty? Not at all. Jesus came to the earth to die in our place and thereby purchase redemption for us. That was His plan but He didn’t force anyone to fulfill it. His ministry and message placed Him in direct opposition with the devil and his followers. Their hatred for Jesus caused them of their own free will to crucify Jesus.
God, in all His wisdom, simply knew what man would do and He determined to use their rejection of His Son to accomplish His will. He never controls our will to accomplish His.
If a person truly understands the message of the cross, then he understands grace. Jesus didn’t just make a token sacrifice for us. He paid it all. There’s no sacrifice that we can make that will add to or replace the sacrifice of Christ. He did it all, and we can thank Him forever!
This was possibly the most potentially damaging temptation the scribes and Pharisees ever presented to Jesus. Much of Jesus’ widespread popularity with the people was because of His examples of and teachings about God’s mercy and forgiveness towards sinners. This was received with great enthusiasm by the people who, before this time had been presented with only a harsh, legalistic, judgmental picture of God.
The scribes and Pharisees had often tried to portray Jesus as condoning or practicing sin because of His association with sinners and His ministry to them when it violated Jewish traditions, such as the Sabbath. However, Jesus had successfully turned every attack into a victory for the side of grace and mercy.
This time, the Jews felt that they had Him ‘cornered.’ If Jesus held to His teachings of forgiveness and refused to stone this woman, He would be in direct rebellion to the law of Moses. This would give these Jews legal grounds to kill Jesus. On the other hand, if He stoned the woman as the law declared, the people would forsake Him. It looked like they had Him trapped either way He went.
As always, the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and Jesus rose to the occasion. He did not condone the sin nor disregard the law of Moses. He simply told the one who was without sin to cast the first stone. As the Holy Ghost began to convict them of their own sin, they all had to leave. They, therefore, could not fault Jesus for not stoning the woman. Jesus was justified in His forgiveness of this woman because He was operating under the dispensation of grace. Think about God’s grace today.
These rivers of living water are referring to the Holy Spirit and the effects He produces in the life of the believer. Galatians 5:22-23 says, ‘the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.’ These qualities should flow out of us as an artesian well. They should not have to be pumped. They will flow as we conform our thinking to God’s Word.
Jesus speaks of bearing fruit in John 15 and declares that ‘. . . without me ye can do nothing’ (Jn. 15:5). This fruit is the product of the Holy Spirit, not our effort. However, since ‘he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit’ (1 Cor. 6:17), then this fruit of the Spirit is also what our born- again spirit produces. Our spirit always has these attributes regardless of what we feel in our emotions. Failure to understand this has caused many Christians to think they would be hypocrites to express joy when the truth is, they are depressed. However, it’s only our soulish part that gets depressed. Our spirit is always bearing the fruit of ‘love, joy, peace, etc.’
For a person who is seeking to walk in the Spirit, it is actually hypocritical to let our soulish emotions dominate our spiritual emotions. The truth is, our spirit is never depressed, just our soul. Those who understand this have the choice of letting their soul depress them or letting the Holy Spirit, through their born-again spirit, release the joy and peace spoken of here.
The ‘fruit’ is not produced by the believer, but by the Holy Spirit, as we live in union with Him. Our part is to yield and trust; God’s part is to produce the fruit.