Lectio notes: Jn 7:31-53

Ezekiel 47

In yesterday's section of Chapter 7 of St John's Gospel, Christ arrived very discretely in Jerusalem, but nonetheless caused waves when he started teaching.  Today's section records that many were impressed with what he was saying, even including those sent by the Temple authorities to arrest him; as a result, the Pharisees are becoming more and more agitated.  In verses 31 to 53, in response to questioning by the Pharisees we are presented with important imagery drawn from Ezekiel 47, of Christ as the Temple from whom rivers of the living water flow.

Read

You can find the Greek, Latin and English here.  The Latin is read aloud here (from 3.25) and the Greek here (from 3.29).

The Latin:

31 De turba autem multi crediderunt in eum, et dicebant: Christus cum venerit, numquid plura signa faciet quam quæ hic facit? 32 Audierunt pharisæi turbam murmurantem de illo hæc: et miserunt principes et pharisæi ministros ut apprehenderent eum. 33 Dixit ergo eis Jesus: Adhuc modicum tempus vobiscum sum: et vado ad eum qui me misit. 34 Quæretis me, et non invenietis: et ubi ego sum, vos non potestis venire. 35 Dixerunt ergo Judæi ad semetipsos: Quo hic iturus est, quia non inveniemus eum? numquid in dispersionem gentium iturus est, et docturus gentes? 36 quis est hic sermo, quem dixit: Quæretis me, et non invenietis: et ubi sum ego, vos non potestis venire?37 In novissimo autem die magno festivitatis stabat Jesus, et clamabat dicens: Si quis sitit, veniat ad me et bibat. 38 Qui credit in me, sicut dicit Scriptura, flumina de ventre ejus fluent aquæ vivæ. 39 Hoc autem dixit de Spiritu, quem accepturi erant credentes in eum: nondum enim erat Spiritus datus, quia Jesus nondum erat glorificatus. 40 Ex illa ergo turba cum audissent hos sermones ejus, dicebant: Hic est vere propheta. 41 Alii dicebant: Hic est Christus. Quidam autem dicebant: Numquid a Galilæa venit Christus? 42 nonne Scriptura dicit: Quia ex semine David, et de Bethlehem castello, ubi erat David, venit Christus? 43 Dissensio itaque facta est in turba propter eum. 44 Quidam autem ex ipsis volebant apprehendere eum: sed nemo misit super eum manus.45 Venerunt ergo ministri ad pontifices et pharisæos. Et dixerunt eis illi: Quare non adduxistis illum? 46 Responderunt ministri: Numquam sic locutus est homo, sicut hic homo. 47 Responderunt ergo eis pharisæi: Numquid et vos seducti estis? 48 numquid ex principibus aliquis credidit in eum, aut ex pharisæis? 49 sed turba hæc, quæ non novit legem, maledicti sunt. 50 Dixit Nicodemus ad eos, ille qui venit ad eum nocte, qui unus erat ex ipsis: 51 Numquid lex nostra judicat hominem, nisi prius audierit ab ipso, et cognoverit quid faciat? 52 Responderunt, et dixerunt ei: Numquid et tu Galilæus es? scrutare Scripturas, et vide quia a Galilæa propheta non surgit. 53 Et reversi sunt unusquisque in domum suam.

The English:

31 But of the people many believed in him, and said: When the Christ cometh, shall he do more miracles, than these which this man doth? [32] The Pharisees heard the people murmuring these things concerning him: and the rulers and Pharisees sent ministers to apprehend him. [33] Jesus therefore said to them: Yet a little while I am with you: and then I go to him that sent me. [34] You shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither you cannot come. [35] The Jews therefore said among themselves: Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?[36] What is this saying that he hath said: You shall seek me, and shall not find me; and where I am, you cannot come? [37] And on the last, and great day of the festivity, Jesus stood and cried, saying: If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink. [38] He that believeth in me, as the scripture saith, Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. [39] Now this he said of the Spirit which they should receive, who believed in him: for as yet the Spirit was not given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. [40] Of that multitude therefore, when they had heard these words of his, some said: This is the prophet indeed. [41] Others said: This is the Christ. But some said: Doth the Christ come out of Galilee? [42] Doth not the scripture say: That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and from Bethlehem the town where David was? [43] So there arose a dissension among the people because of him. [44] And some of them would have apprehended him: but no man laid hands on him. [45] The ministers therefore came to the chief priests and the Pharisees. And they said to them: Why have you not brought him?[46] The ministers answered: Never did man speak like this man. [47] The Pharisees therefore answered them: Are you also seduced? [48] Hath any one of the rulers believed in him, or of the Pharisees? [49] But this multitude, that knoweth not the law, are accursed. [50] Nicodemus said to them, (he that came to him by night, who was one of them:) [51] Doth our law judge any man, unless it first hear him, and know what he doth? [52] They answered, and said to him: Art thou also a Galilean? Search the scriptures, and see, that out of Galilee a prophet riseth not. [53] And every man returned to his own house.

Study

The image of the living water, flowing freely as a river in the streets is an important one, calling to mind the image of Ezekiel 47, where water gushes from the Temple, an image that should suggest the operation of grace and the Holy Spirit for us:

CHRYS. The feast being over, and the people about to return home, our Lord gives them provisions for the way: On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink...

AUG. For there is an inner thirst, because there is an inner man: and the inner man of a certainty loves more than the outer. So then if we thirst, let us go not on our feet, but on our affections, not by change of place, but by love.

CHRYS. He is speaking of spiritual drink, as His next words show: He that believes in Me, as the Scripture truth said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But where here does the Scripture say this? No where. What then? We should read, He that believes in Me, as said the Scripture, putting the stop here; and then, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water: the meaning being, that that was a right kind of belief, which was formed on the evidence of Scripture, not of miracles. Search the Scriptures, he had said before. 

JEROME. Or this testimony is taken from the Proverbs, where it is said, Let your fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.

AUG. The belly of the inner man, is the heart's conscience. Let him drink from that water, and his conscience is quickened and purified; he drinks in the whole fountain, nay, becomes the very fountain itself. But what is that fountain, and what is that river, which flows from the belly of the inner man? The love of his neighbor. If any one, who drinks of the water, thinks that it is meant to satisfy himself alone, out of his belly there does not flow living water. But if he does good to his neighbor, the stream is not dried up, but flows.

GREG. When sacred preaching flows from the soul of the faithful, rivers of living water, as it were, run down from the bellies of believers. For what are the entrails of the belly but the inner part of the mind; i.e. a right intention, a holy desire, humility towards God, mercy toward man.

CHRYS. He says, rivers, not river, to show the copious and overflowing power of grace: and living water, i.e. always moving; for when the grace of the Spirit has entered into and settled in the mind, it flows freer than any fountain, and neither fails, nor empties, nor stagnates. The wisdom of Stephen, the tongue of Peter, the strength of Paul, are evidences of this. Nothing hindered them; but, like impetuous torrents, they went on, carrying every thing along with them.

AUG. What kind of drink it was, to which our Lord invited them, the Evangelist next explains; But this He spoke of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive. Whom does the Spirit mean, but the Holy Spirit; For every man has within him his own spirit.

AUG. Our Lord having invited those, who believed in Him, to drink of the Holy Spirit, a dissension arose among the multitude: Many of the people therefore, when they heart these saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet.

THEOPHYL. The one, that is, who was expected. Others, i.e. the people said, This is the Christ.

ALCUIN. These had now begun to drink in that spiritual thirst, and had laid aside the unbelieving thirst. But others still remained dried up in their unbelief: But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said, That Christ comes of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? They knew what were the predictions of the Prophets respecting Christ, but knew not that they all were fulfilled in Him. They knew that He had been brought up at Nazareth, but the place of His birth they did not know; and did not believe that it answered to the prophecies.

This section also sees the return of the Pharisee supporter of Jesus, Nicodemus:

CHRYS. As they said that none of the rulers believed on Him, the Evangelist contradicts them: Nicodemus said to them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them.)

AUG. He was not unbelieving, but fearful; and therefore came by night to the light, wishing to be enlightened, but afraid of being known to go. He replies, Does our law judge any man before it hear him, and know what he does? He thought that, if they would only hear Him patiently, they would be overcome, as the officers had been. But they preferred obstinately condemning Him, to knowing the truth.

AUG. He calls the law of God, our law; because it was given to men.

CHRYS. Nicodemus shows that they knew the law, and did not act according to the law. They, instead of disproving this, take to rude and angry contradiction: They answered and said to him, Are you also of Galilee?

The next set of lectio notes can be found here.

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