Yesterday we finished John chapter 6 and today we are going to start John chapter 7. The atmosphere around Jesus has become increasingly tense. Many of his followers had defected at the end of chapter 6, and chapter 7 opens with an account of the unbelief of Jesus’ brothers. Chapter 7 is the third account of Jesus during a Jewish festival. It is now the Festival of Tabernacles. Chapter 7 can be divided into three sections: the events preceding the festival and Jesus’ secret arrival (vv. 1-13), the events during the festival (vv. 14-36) and the events that took place on the final day (vv. 37-52). And we are going to cover the first section today.
After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.—7:1-5
Jesus had not been in Jerusalem since the healing of the lame man. He made a third trip to Jerusalem for the Festival of Tabernacles. This Festival was one of three Jewish pilgrimage festivals. The other two being Festival of Unleavened Bread, which included the Passover, and the Festival of Harvest, also called Weeks or Pentecost. The Festival of Tabernacles took place in the fall (September-October), about six months after Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread and about two months before the Festival of Dedication. The people lived in leafy shelters (tabernacles) throughout the festival to commemorate God’s faithfulness during the wilderness wanderings. It was also a time of celebration and gratitude for the harvest. There were elements that anticipated the blessings of the Messianic age.
Jesus had not returned to Jerusalem before this time because the religious leadership wanted to kill him. His brothers encouraged him to go to Jerusalem and miracles to gather more disciples. Yet Jesus’ brothers did not believe in him.
Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.
However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?”
Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.”
Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.—7:6-13
Jesus made it clear to his brothers that while they could go whenever they wanted, his schedule was determined by God. The world’s hatred of Jesus was because he spoke the truth. Jesus remained in Galilee after his brothers departed for the festival. The religious leaders were keeping an eye out for Jesus in Jerusalem, so he did not go publicly to the festival; later he went privately. Jesus was the topic of conversation and debate at the festival. The crowds were divided in their opinion of him, but their fear of the religious leadership kept them from speaking openly about him. And we will pick from here tomorrow, when we see Jesus make his public entrance into the festival.
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
1 Samuel 22-23, John 10:1-21, Psalm 115:1-18 and Proverbs 15:18-19
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