Monday, November 16, 2015
At The Feast Of Tabernacles
“After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him. Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand. His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, show thyself to the world. For neither did his brethren believe in him.” (John 7:1-5)
Twice Jesus had gone to Jerusalem for Passover and at for some of the other feasts. The Jewish leadership in Jerusalem had become very upset during visits and after the latest visit for Passover, were actively seeking his death. Six months later, when the Feast of Tabernacles, the national camp out celebrating the forty years in the wilderness, came. Jesus considered it too risky to go early and make public appearances in Judea.
Though they supported his efforts to reach the people, his own brothers did not believe he was truly the Messiah. They were convinced he was overstating the danger. They told him that if he wanted the people to follow him he needed to go on tour publicize his teaching. The only way to get national attention would be through a good publicity campaign. It is the way Politicians get a large following, and musicians popularize their recordings, and has gained large followings for the leaders of various religions, and they thought it would work for him.
“Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready. The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast: for my time is not yet full come.” (John 7:6-8)
Jesus said they did not understand. He came to die, but first he had to fulfill the prophecies. To be killed at that time would have prevented his being able to be our savior. Because they thought of him as just their older brother, they didn’t understand the hatred of the people as a result of Satan’s influence. He was different from the world and it is natural for people to hate those who are different, especially if the difference calls attention to their own deficiencies, and Jesus did point out their sin. To go early would give his enemies an opportunity to kill him. The publicity would work against what God had planned. He encouraged his brothers to go ahead, saying he would come later.
“When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee. But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. Then the Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he? And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people. Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews.” (John 7:9-13)
After his brothers left, Jesus went to the Feast anonymously. The people were expecting to see him as the law required every man to celebrate the feast, and were actively seeking him. Some believed he was teaching the truth while others thought he was just another would be cult leader. Because of the threats by the religious leaders, they did not dare hold a public discussion of his teachings, however.
“Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” (John 7:14-15)
The Feast of Tabernacles lasts a full week, and when Jesus had not made an appearance for the first few days, the Jewish leaders assumed he wasn’t there and let down their guard. Jesus went into the temple and began teaching. The Jews in Jerusalem considered people from Galilee uneducated and ignorant, and could not believe a person from there could understand the scriptures like he did, since he had never earned a doctoral degree from one of their accredited colleges.
“Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?” (John 7:16-19)
Jesus said he was not teaching his own understandings but what God had told him. Anyone who cared enough about pleasing God to see what he said would be able tell whether it came from God or not. As he said, a person who teaches his own ideas and principles is trying to build his own reputation, but a person who speaks God’s word can be trusted. Though they had had the law since Moses time. Some sixteen hundred years before, they were not keeping it and as a result they were trying to have him killed.
“The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?
Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel. Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. “(John 7:21-24)
Some of the people accused Jesus of having a demon that caused him to be paranoid and think the leaders were trying to kill him, but as we have seen, the crowds were afraid to talk about him because they feared retaliation by the Jews.
The only legal basis for having Jesus executed was for healing the man at the pool on the Sabbath, which the claimed broke the Sabbath. Jesus pointed out that since the Mosaic law required that a child be circumcised when he was eight days old, they thought nothing of performing the circumcision on the Sabbath. If it was okay to perform elective surgery on the Sabbath it should also be okay to heal a person. They needed to focus less on the ritual actions and be fair in their judgment.
“Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ? Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is.” (John 7:25-27)
The people from Jerusalem knew the Jews had ordered Jesus arrested and killed for breaking the Sabbath. They couldn’t understand why they hadn’t already arrested him unless they believed he was the Messiah. They were sure he couldn’t be the Messiah because they knew where Jesus was from. And didn’t think anyone would know where the Messiah would come from. After all they had been taught about Messiah’s coming by the experts, the scribes and Pharisees, the doctors and religious leaders of the day. They ignored the fact that the prophecies said Jesu would be from Nazareth, that his family would originally be from Bethlehem, that he would be a descendant of David, and various other prophecies. They were accepting the “experts” interpretation of the scripture as more important than what they read for themselves.