Sunday, March 17, 2013

John 7 - Temple Teaching During the Feast of Tabernacles

LINK: John 7:1-52

BACKGROUND 

121. Jesus' (half) brothers ridicule him: John 7:1-9

Mary had other children with Joseph (Matthew 13:55-56; Mark 6:1-6). They were prodding Him to make an impressive appearance at the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths (one of three feast that required men to travel to Jerusalem) and manifest His power because Galilee was not the "happening" place for a Messiah. The tone is mocking because they were unbelievers (Mark 3:21, 31-25; 6:3; John 7:5) Even though they had grown up with Him, they did not understand Him, His purposes, and the timing of things.  Psalm 69:8 talks of their misunderstanding:  "I have become estranged from my brothers and an alien to my mother's sons."  It was not yet time for Him to go to the feast. He does eventually go, but He does not go on the command of His brothers. 


As you read this section, notice the contrasts that will be indicated by the words but, even though, much more, nevertheless, yet, although, then, and otherwise

123. Jesus teaches openly at the temple: John 7:10-31

Jesus did not go up to the Temple at the time and way His half-brothers wanted Him to go, but He went in the Father's timing and in secret, not making a grand entrance because the religious leaders were plotting to kill Him (John 7:1,25), but His time had not yet come.

There were three great feasts in which men were to travel to Jerusalem: Tabernacles (Booths), Passover (combined with the Feast of Unleavened Bread), and Pentecost (Shavuot). The Feast of Tabernacles was known as the holiest and greatest feast (The Antiquities of the Jews 8.4.1).  All the feasts are explained in Leviticus 23 in the Bible Book Club. 

Here are just a few contrasts in this section:
  • Do not go publicly, but in secret (7:10)
  • Some were saying He was a good man, but others were saying He leads the multitude astray (7:12)
  • Went up in secret, but went to the temple to teach publicly (7:14)
  • Not His teaching, but from the Father who sent Him (7:16, 17)
  • Seeking your own glory versus seeking the glory of the Father (7:18)
  • Speaking from yourself versus speaking from the Father (7:17, 18)
  • Moses gave you the Law yet none of you obey it (7:19)
(There are many more contrasts. Maybe you can observe more as you read John 7. Contrasts are important for making good observations. Here is a handout about making good observations, interpretations, and applications.)

By this stage in Jesus' ministry, there was great division over Him. No one spoke openly if they were for Him because they were afraid of the religious leaders. When He said they were trying to kill Him, I assume the majority of the people did not know about the plot. That is why they called Him demon-possessed.

Halfway through the feast (about three days), Jesus taught. The word here "denotes formal and continuous teaching, as distinguished from mere casual sayings" (Commentary Critical and Explanatory, John 7:14). The religious teachers were amazed at His spiritually deep teaching without formal education. Jesus claimed He was taught by God, and the goal of His teaching was to glorify the Father. In contrast, they had the Law of Moses, but they did not obey it. 

For example, circumcision was to be performed eight days after a baby was born (Genesis 17:9-14, Leviticus 12:3). It was done for the purpose of identifying Jewish males as part of God's covenant. It was allowed even on a Sabbath when there was to be no work. They allowed these kinds of exceptions but constantly hassled Jesus when He did acts of mercy on the Sabbath. 

It is interesting to see the different opinions of the crowd in this chapter. Was He a good man or a deceiver, sent from God or demon-possessed, the Christ and the Prophet or just the carpenter's son? (More contrasts!)

At all these things, Jesus "cried out" (1:15; 7:37; 12:44) that He was the Sent One of God (John 7:28). This caused some of them to believe but some of them to try to seize (arrest) Him, but His time had not yet come.

124. Religious leaders attempt to arrest Jesus: John 7:32-52

Jesus knew that, in a short while, He would return to the Father. The Jews would look for the Messiah, but realize they had missed Him (Zechariah 12:10-13; Revelation 1:7). Sadly, many just did not get it.

I discovered the deeper meaning of this section when celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles with a feast group back in 1992. Context is everything. Jesus made the proclamation, "If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scriptures said, 'From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water'" (John 7:37-38), on the "last and greatest day" of the feast. On this day there was a special water ceremony. The priests would go from the temple to the Pool of Siloam (storage area for the Gihon Spring and supplier of water to Jerusalem in ancient times).  They would dip a golden pitcher and draw water that was poured in a bowl on the altar.

What a word picture Jesus was giving the people! Here is more:
With the approach of the rainy season. Israel depended on God to send rain for the next season's crops. This was a time for serious praying, asking God to open the gates of heaven and send the necessary rain. As the priest poured out the water, he visually demonstrated God's continuing and faithful love in sending rain. Like so many other traditions, it carried another deeper spiritual meaning. This was a demonstration or sign of Israel's hope for the coming of the Messiah as they looked forward to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which God had promised. Jesus, knowing the drought that existed in their hearts, probably quoted the familiar words of the prophet Isaiah, "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters" (Isaiah 55:1). "And the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places . . . and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail" (Isaiah 58:11). "For I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants" (Isaiah 44:3). The concluding remarks of the officers who listened to His teaching are significant: "He says such wonderful things! . . . We've never heard anything like it" (John 7:46, TLB). 
(Celebrate the Feasts by Martha Zimmerman, p. 158).
In this passage, Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah! 

Of course, this caused additional debate and controversy. The crowd overlooked that although He was from Galilee (7:52), He was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-6 Micah 5:2) making Him the Promised One!

Note how Nicodemus, as a secret believer, sticks up for Jesus! 

REFLECTION


If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.
(John 7:17) 

If we do God's will and for His glory, our life will be blessed. Jesus left us an example of one who did the will of the Father.  
A principle of immense importance, showing, on the one hand, that singleness of desire to please God is the grand inlet to light on all questions vitally affecting one’s eternal interests, and on the other, that the want [lack of] of his [desire to please God], whether perceived or not, is the chief cause of infidelity amidst the light of revealed religion.  
(A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, Jn 7:17) 
Let's seek to do the will of the Father by listening to His voice and spending time in His Word rather than spouting off and acting on our own wisdom!


APPLICATION

Have you done the will of the Father today? Evaluate and talk to God about it. 

PRAYER
Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God;
Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
For the sake of Your name, O Lord, revive me.
In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble. (Psalm 143:10-11) 
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