III. A Mixed Response (vv. 25-36)
a. Belief and Conviction (v. 31)
In the previous verses Jesus made it clear that if the people would submit to the Father, and judge righteously then they would know that Jesus is the Messiah. The response to this message was mixed. Many of the people remained confused, and did not believe the claims that Jesus made. Despite the large number of people who continued in unbelief, there were those who did believe in Jesus. Verse 31 tells us that there were many who believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah. These people recognized that the works of Jesus had to be from the Father, and they were willing to submit themselves to the truth of God’s will. Sarcastically, these believers asked “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs that this man has done?” The answer that they were implying was no. Jesus was the Christ, He fulfilled all the prophecy from the Old Testament, and the signs that He did proved that He was from the Father.
b. Unbelief and Confusion (vv. 25-30; 32-36)
Some of the people who remained confused apparently knew that “the Jews” desired to kill Jesus (these people were probably from Jerusalem), and they wondered why no one had arrested Him. These people clearly did not believe, in fact they thought that because they knew where Jesus was from He couldn’t be the Messiah. Jesus responded to this additional attempt to discredit His message, and in the process got right to the heart of the matter.
The people may have thought that they knew where Jesus was from, however Jesus makes it clear that they had no idea where He was from. Jesus, almost sarcastically, remarks, “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.” They were concerned about what region of Palestine that Jesus was from when they should have been concerned with whether or not He was from God. Consequently, the people completely missed the fact that Jesus had been sent by the Father. Ultimately, the crowd’s confusion was the result of their unbelief. They did not accept Jesus because they did not know the Father.
Can you imagine the reaction of the religious leaders when Jesus said this? John tells us that they were trying to arrest Him, however it was not yet time for Him to be arrested and crucified. The Pharisees did not know this – they didn’t even know the Father – and so they sent officers to try and arrest Jesus. As we will see later the Pharisees did not want to start a riot, and so they did not just want the officers to go and grab Jesus. Instead, they wanted the officers to wait until Jesus said something that would justify His arrest. In other words, they sent the officers to wait for Jesus to slip up. But as usual the Pharisees underestimated Jesus.
Jesus continued to openly teach, and in verses 33-34 He alludes to the fact that He will soon be crucified. In just a few months it would be Passover and Jesus would publicly enter the city to the joy of the people. They would cry out “Hosanna!” and usher Jesus into the city. However, within days the people would turn on Jesus, and cry out “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!” Jesus had to die as a sacrifice for sinners. This was the only was to purchase redemption, and Jesus was willing to go to this great length in submission to the Father. But “the Jews” did not understand this. Even thought the Old Testament is filled with passages that predict the suffering that Jesus would have to face these religious leaders had no idea what Jesus was talking about. Surely the “educated” religious leaders should have remember Isaiah 53:4-7 which says,
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
However, they were so confused that they thought that Jesus was going to go and teach among the Gentiles. These people remained confused because of their unbelief. They were not willing to submit to the Father (v. 17), they did not judge righteously (v. 23), and they did not know the Father (v. 28). These people are a perfect example of Romans 1:21. There it says:
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.