Lesson 72: Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome! This is lesson # 72. Jesus traveled to Jerusalem in a secretive way by passing through Samaria where more disciples offered to follow him. Jesus warned them that to be his disciple, they must be willing to give up all. But, when Jesus got to Jerusalem it would seem he laid aside all secrecy and went boldly into the temple and taught. Let's read John 7:11-24. Are you ready? Beginning in John 7:11. "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. Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? 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? 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."
Alright, some think it had been 18 months since Jesus had been to Jerusalem; that he did not attend the passover of AD 32. This MAY or MAY NOT be true. We have no statement either way. The Sanhedrin had not acted to give a resolution as to the official position of the Jewish religion on Jesus' claim to be the messiah. Thus, many of the common people camping out there at Jerusalem were in a quandary on this point. So, a lot of discussion was being batted back and forth in those little huts (v.1*1-12-13). Then suddenly "about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught." The Jews marveled at his speech and even Jesus' enemies were impressed. Their question about LETTERS in v. 15 means simply that Jesus had not attended any of the Rabbinical Schools in Jerusalem and yet he spoke about the written law and the unwritten traditions and those thing that were ordinarily taught to the scribes. Jesus assured them in v.16; he did not learn those things in their schools. He said, "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me", i.e. Jesus came from God and his doctrine likewise came from God. In v.17, Jesus said that "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine..." In other words; if they would follow God strictly they could affirm what Jesus said as scriptural.
In v.18-23, there seems to be a reference back to what happened in the first 18 verses of John ch. 5; when Jesus healed the man by the pool of Bethesda and told him, "Take up thy bed, and walk." The Jews were upset because Jesus healed on the sabbath day and thus perverted the sabbath. John 5:18 said, "the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making him equal with God." The point is in John 7:19 that the very fact that they sought to kill Jesus indicated they were NOT keeping the Law of Moses which said, "Thou shalt not kill." Some answered and said, "Thou hast a devil...", i.e. they accused Jesus of making a false claim. And then they asked, "who goeth about to kill thee?" Now, whether these were Jews unaware of the plot 18 months earlier or whether this was said in an attempt to cover up their intent is not clear. But, the fact that Jesus continued the argument that brought on the threats a year and a half earlier seems to confirm the latter. Jesus affirmed in v.22 it was a common practice for them to circumcise on the sabbath. Thus, Jesus asked them if it was not as lawful to "make a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?" Look at what Jesus taught in v.24. Rather Jesus said, "judge", yes; but, "judge righteous judgment." Do you remember the first two verses in Matt. ch. 7, part of the sermon on the mount? Jesus said, "with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged..." Thus, we learn that making a judgment is not unscriptural as some think. But, when we make a judgment; we must judge with righteous judgment, John 7:24.
Let's read some more, John 7:25 beginning. We'll read thru v.31. Are you ready? "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. Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not. But I know him; for I am from him, and he hath sent me. Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come. And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles that these which this man hath done?" In v.25, it would seem that some Jews remembered the plot a year and a half earlier. And if this be the connection, then this had undoubtedly been talked up by many and i;as a widely know plot to kill Jesus. Thus, this helps us to better see the need for such precautions as Jesus had exercised in the intervening months. But, the publicity from that undoubtedly confused many. Did the rulers know this, some wondered? If Jesus was the impostor the Jewish leaders claimed he was; why did the leaders not act to take him? Maybe the leaders knew he was the Christ! Some had a question about Jesus' origin and tried to build an argument based on prophecy. But, Jesus said they were ignorant on the subject and He declared he was from God. This infuriated some, v.30; but, they were unable to carry out their plot because it was too public. But, these very things plus the many miracles they had seen of Jesus caused yet others to believe that Jesus was the messiah. So, some asked in v.31, "When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?" When the Jewish leaders heard some were making such arguments they decided to act quickly by taking Jesus into custody.
Let's read v.32-36. Are you ready? Beginning in John 7:32. "The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him. Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come. Then said the Jews 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? What manner of saying is this that he said, Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come?" The officers sent were Levites that served at the temple. Luke referred to the captain of the temple in Acts 5:24. In other words they were the local temple guard or police. But, Jesus looked them straight in the eye and told them the time was not yet right to carry out their plot. For some reason their conscience did not permit tnem to arrest Jesus.
Now, let's read v.37-44, same chapter. Are you ready, beginning in v.37. "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his telly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, this is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the Scripture said, that Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So there was a division among the people because of him. And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him." O.K. John, our writer, now moves to the last day of the feast which was a holy convocation. It is said by some that one of the activities on that day involved the priests using a golden pitcher to bring water from the pool of Siloam there in Jerusalem which was said to be the water from the rock which Moses struck in the wilderness. It is believed that this is the basis for Jesus' metaphors on this occasion. "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." Then Jesus showed a contrast between that water that people drank in the wilderness and then died; with what Jesus called "living water" in v.38, very much like what he said to the Samaritan woman back in John 4:10. Then John, our writer, explained in the parenthesis which is v.39; that Jesus spoke of the things that happened in Acts ch. 2. However even on that last day of the feast some were convince and believe in Jesus; but others did not believe. Some played up the argument about Jesus' origin, i.e. they said Jesus did not fulfill prophecy as to his place of origin, (v.41-42)
Now, let's read v.45-52, eight more verses. Beginning in John 7:45, let's read. "Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed. Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet." As we said before those Levite officers just didn't have the heart to arrest Jesus even though they were instructed to do so by the Jewish leaders. Part of this had to do with the crowd, no doubt. But, they also recognized something different about Jesus. They said, "Never man spake like this man." But, the Phariseeiac leaders who prided themselves on knowing the Law said in effect that these officers just didn't know the scriptures. They were deluded and cursed because they were ignorant of the O.T. Their argument in v.48 was that if they observed those that knew the scriptures; such did not believe on Jesus. But, Nicodemus spoke up and said they were acting hastily because they had not really given Jesus a fair hearing. I trust you remember Nicodemus, the Pharisee, who wanted to know about the kingdom; John called to our attention in the parenthesis that this was the same Nicodemus that came to Jesus by night (John 3:2). Nicodemus, who had interviewed Jesus personally undoubtedly thought if they would give Jesus a hearing they might identify a little more closely with those officers who had refused to arrest Jesus. The Sanhedrin was divided and some taunted Nicodemus using the origin argument.
We're going to read some more starting in John 7:53. Twelve more verses. Let's read. "And every man went unto his own house. Jesus went unto the mount of Olives, and early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down,- and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him,that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." First, I should tell you, this is a disputed passage. By that, I mean that some older manuscripts do not include John 8:1-11. But, I trust you understand that is not necessarily a conclusive argument. However, we won't get into all that. So, back to Jerusalem. The festival ended and the crowds began returning to their own communities. It is usually thought that Jesus visited his friend Lazarus that night who lived in Bethany only a mile or two from the temple. We'll meet Lazarus later in this study. But, Jesus was back in the temple early the next morning teaching the local people. Now, the point about the woman taken in adultery is that the Jewish leadership themselves were faced with a dilemma. The Law of Moses stated clearly in Deut. 22:22 that adulters were to be stoned to death. But, the dilemma involved the Roman government which reserved the right to handle all capital punishment cases. Thus, the Jewish leadership were prevented by the Romans from carrying out the Mosaic Code. What the scribes and Pharisees were trying to do, that morning, was to set up Jesus against the Romans and then let the Romans kill Jesus. They wanted to lure Jesus into defying the Romans and then they would deliver Jesus to the Romans. That's the idea in v.6 where John said plainly, "This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him." So, they in a very crude way, paraded the woman and demanded Jesus make a judgment. But, where was the man? Did you know it take two to commit adultery? And you can't catch one in the act without the other. But, notice how Jesus handled this. Study Jesus' body language as he used the truth, part of the very law they were demanding, to convict their own conscience. The law required two witnesses which they claimed to have. But, apparently they had over looked in their moment of anxiety that the law also required those two witnesses throw the first stone. So, Jesus gave the impression he himself was muddled momentarily; allowing the leaders to increase their demand. Then, Jesus arose and very quietly said in effect, O.K. let's do it by the book as you've demanded. It was then he reminded them that the witnesses had to go first; but, he stated that requirement like this, "He that is without sin among you, let HIM first cast a stone." Then, when Jesus had tossed that hot potato back into their court, so-to-speak, he stooped down again and allowed them to leave one by one without taunting them into killing the woman. There's a powerful lot of psychology in Jesus' actions. If he had looked them in the eye and forced the issue; they probably would have killed her. This does not mean that Jesus condones adultery, certainly not, we learned that in Matt. 5:28. Until our next lesson, have a good day!