THE MEANING OF JOHN 7:39
When I was young, in my study of the Bible I was puzzled by John 7:39, which says: “(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)” (KJV). “Given,” we know because of its being italicized in the King James Version, was added by the translators. The literal rendering is: “…for the Spirit was not yet.” Why did John 7:39 say that the Spirit was not yet? He is mentioned over and over again in the Old Testament. For years this verse bothered me. I could see that “the Spirit was not yet” had something to do with Jesus’ being glorified, but this was only a hint of what was implied.
One day when I was reading in Exodus 30, this verse in John became clear to me. I could see that prior to Exodus 30 the oil was there, but the anointing ointment “was not yet.”
Philippians 1:19 speaks of the “bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Was the Spirit of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament? No, for He “was not yet”! In the Old Testament there was the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Jehovah. When Jesus was conceived, there was the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:20). The Spirit of Jesus Christ, however, “was not yet.” When the Lord spoke those words in John 7, prophesying that His disciples would receive the Spirit, He had not yet been crucified and resurrected. It was only after these two events, the death and resurrection of Christ, occurred, that these two principal spices could be added to the plain oil. How great was His death! How great was His resurrection! Nothing like them had ever happened before.
Perhaps I can impress you with their significance by telling you a little of my experience.
In the very year that I got saved, I found out from some books I read that according to Romans 6 I had been crucified with Christ. How much I appreciated my death with Christ! It is good to die! When we cannot overcome our besetting sin, we surely want to die. A dead person can never lose his temper, but a living person reacts to every situation. How wonderful to be victorious over sin by being dead and buried!
After reading these books, I looked forward to experiencing my union with Christ in death. I had died with Him and was buried with Him. As the situations came up, however, I found myself very much alive! The more I expected to be dead, the more I found myself reacting. How troubled I was! Eventually I concluded that Romans 6 does not work. The theory is right: to die is to be free from sin. But how could I die? I could not crucify myself. I could not commit suicide any other way. How was I to resolve this matter of dying with Christ?
As time went on and my reading of spiritual books continued, I learned of the power of the resurrection of Christ. Paul’s words, “To know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Phil. 3:10), stirred up my appetite. I surely desired to experience the power of resurrection. In this too I failed. Though I was born into organized Christianity and traveled through the Brethren, the inner life circle, and the Pentecostal movement, nowhere did I experience the power of resurrection.
Eventually I found out that both the death and resurrection of Christ are in the compound Spirit.
After Christ’s resurrection the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) became the Spirit of Jesus Christ. At that time there were added to the Holy Spirit the elements of Christ, of His death, of His resurrection, of the strength or effectiveness of His death, and of the power of His resurrection. All these elements are now compounded into the Spirit of God.
Surely you can see now the meaning of these four spices being added to the oil: the myrrh, speaking of His death; the cinnamon, speaking of the sweetness and strength of His death; the calamus, speaking of His resurrection; and the cassia, speaking of the resurrection power.
The numbers used in reference to the anointing ointment are also meaningful. Four, the number of spices, signifies the creatures and thus indicates the humanity of Christ. If we combine the middle two spices, we have three measures of five hundred shekels. The number three speaks of Christ’s divinity. It is the number of the Triune God—Father, Son, and Spirit. Why is the middle unit of five hundred shekels split? This indicates that the middle One of the Godhead was broken; the split into two units speaks of the cross.
All these items indicated by the spices and the measures have been compounded into this Spirit, this Spirit who “was not yet” before Christ’s resurrection. How can we practically apply them to us?
According to what we were told in the past, we experience the death of Christ and the power of His resurrection firstly by believing that we were crucified with Christ. This I did: I believed I had been crucified with Him. I thoroughly believed. Nonetheless, when the irritations came, I reacted. Then I was taught that believing is not adequate; I must also reckon. So I began, secondly, to reckon. Just as I reckoned on the fact that two and two are four, so I tried to reckon on the fact that I had died with Christ. I did a great deal of reckoning! I found that the more I reckoned, the less I experienced dying with Christ and the more alive I was.
How can we make the practical application? We must get this compound ointment!
(The Mending Ministry of John, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)