John’s Gospel has moved us quickly through Jesus’ ministry with his selected signs and encounters. We are now in the last 6 months of Jesus’ earthly ministry. We read: “After this Jesus went around Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews were waiting to take his life.” The KJV says ‘he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.’ There is a gathering storm in the life of Jesus, but the Gospel of John has given us a sub-theme of which Jesus had spoken of since the wedding in Cana about a divine time schedule in which ‘ his time had not yet come.’ Verse 2 tells us the feast of tabernacles was at hand. Along with the Passover and the Pentecost, the Feasts of Tabernacle was one of the three feasts every Jewish male was required to attend. It was also probably the most fun of the three feasts. It celebrated Israel’s deliverance out of Egypt. They camped out for a week in booths. They had parades of torches at night to commemorate the Lord leading them with a pillar of fire at night. The also brought water from the pool of Siloam and poured out water to remind them of the Lord provided water from the rock. On the last day of the feast, they would pour out a double portion.
John 7 is divided into three sections: before the festival, in the middle of the festival and the last day of the festival.
HIS BROTHERS’ ADVICE
Ever have people offer you advice, you did not ask for? Of course you have. They view your situation from the outside and offer their advice as to what you should do, although they do not understand or know all the facts regarding your situation. Their motives might be well-meaning, but often there is an undertone of criticism that says you are not doing the right thing. Jesus had already turned down the crowd’s desire to make him king. He was a celebrity. He was one of – if not the best known person, in the area. Many had seen his miracles, or had first- hand accounts of those who had seen his miracles and heard his teaching. He was a phenomenon who had created a flurry of activity and talk, while undermining the traditions of the Jewish religious leaders. Now against his backdrop, Jesus is at home and his brothers, who do NOT yet believe in him. They are offering advice on what he should do, and how he should act and take advantage of the large crowd gathered for the feast of tabernacles in Jerusalem. “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles 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 brothers did not believe in him. (Mary had four sons: James, Joseph, Simon and Judas. James would write the book of James and Judas, the book of Jude. But they did not at this time believe in him.) Their advice, I believe, was given with an underlying tone of sarcasm. If he really was who everyone was claiming he was, he should go right up to Jerusalem and do some miracles and take over. They did not have all the facts.
JESUS’ REPLY TO HIS BROTHERS
Again we hear Jesus refer to his divine time schedule he is following. “The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right.” Jesus says any time is right for you because you come and go at your own desires. They were not depending on their Heavenly Father or living in harmony with His will. We are surrounded today by people who go where they want to go when they want to go without ever considering the Lord’s will. It is interesting this unbelief of Jesus’ half-brothers was prophesied in Psalm 69:8: “I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children.” Psalm 37 begins by telling us not fret because of evil-doers ,nor be envious of those who do wrong, for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Later on, in that same Psalm, we read: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and He delighted in his way.” Do we wait on the Lord’s timing or get ahead of Him and do what we want to do, when we want to do it? Do we fret about evil-doers, or even more likely are we envious of the rich and famous? If we are honest with ourselves, we are often envious of the rich and famous- of their magnificent homes and possessions and the ease with which they travel in luxury? John writes in I John 5, ‘the whole world is under the control of the evil one.’ The world system is the enemy of God. The sinner and the wicked feel at home here, it is their den. But for the saint, the world system and culture is a lure and temptation for the saint. Remember our enemies and the enemy of God are threefold: the world, the flesh (old nature) and the devil. It is the ‘prince of this world’ who manipulates this system with its motivating factors: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. These three factors are determining the steps of the majority, their direction in life. The majority has entered the wide gate and the broad way. Jesus said many enter there. It is a way which seems right to man, but the end is death. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He is the narrow way and the strait gate, few enter there, yet it leads to the abundant life. The rich man in Luke 16 had an abundant life. His decades on earth were lived in ease and luxury as he received the good things, while Lazarus received the bad things. Sometimes our lives, as good as they are, appear to be as troubled and lacking as Lazarus’ life when compared to the rich. You must also realize the rich man in Luke 16, saw Lazarus every day and did nothing to comfort or help him. Remember how Jesus started His Sermon on the Mount? “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.”(Matthew 5) Jesus also reminds us when He comes to establish his kingdom in Matthew 25, he will bless and reward those who fed the hungry, gave drink too the thirsty, clothed the naked, looked in on the sick and visited those in prison. Jesus also said it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into heaven. Yet he said all things were possible through God. Perhaps his brothers at this time were jealous of the attention their brother was getting. And they were getting nothing out of it. Their advice was based on a worldly view. Satan is still trying to tempt Jesus and uses his family to tempt him.
THE MIDDLE OF THE FESTIVAL
We read in verse 14 after his brothers had left: “Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to temple courts and begin to teach.” His timing and sudden appearance in the temple in the middle of the festival week was in God’s perfect timing as prophesied by Malachi: “Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple…” (Malachi 3) Notice the reaction of the Jews, the religious leaders, to Jesus’ teaching: “The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning, without having studied?” (how knoweth this man letters, having never learned? KJV) Intellectual snobbery is still with us today, especially in religious circles. Churches seek those with letters after their names.
Jesus answers their question: “My teaching is not my own. It comes from Him who sent me.” Jesus is making it clear his doctrine comes from his Father. He then makes this statement of how to prove he is teaching the truth. “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” Jesus is saying by obeying what God tells us to do, God’s Word will prove itself true to those who sincerely seek to do it. First we must hear the word, for faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God. The incorruptible seed is cast; this is how it is heard. The parable of the seed and the sower describes the types of heart which it lands upon. What Jesus is saying you must choose to do God’s will. We are not to be hearers only, but doers. Here is an example of how this works: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there might be food in my house. Test me in this says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing you will not have room enough for it.”(Malachi 3) Now you can hear this bold claim of the Lord’s but until you actually do it, you cannot test it. Study how the tithe is to be given and the do so according to all the Lord has told you. We know the tithe must be the first portion, the first fruits. You are not to wait until you have paid all others then pay the Lord what is left over. The first tenth belongs to the Lord. You give the first as an act of obedience and trust. Cain’s offering was not accepted. Not because it did not contain blood, because the tithe does not have anything to do with forgiveness of sin which requires blood. Notice what it says in Genesis 4: “And in the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground as offering, unto the Lord.” He did not bring the first fruits. He brought it when it was convenient for him, when perhaps he had gathered all the fruit and then sure he had enough, he brought it later. We bring the first- so it can redeem the latter. God did not accept Cain’s offering, NOT because it was plant – but because it was given in a careless, disobedient and selfish manner. I believe this verse tells us Cain did not bring the first fruits, thus recognizing the whole harvest belonged to the Lord and all productivity came from Him. Cain gave it when he was ready, and when he had collected all the harvest. We must trust the Lord’s faithfulness, and money and possessions is one of the areas in which we are tested. Everyone’s teaching stands or falls by the fruit it produces in the lives of those who embrace it and base their lives upon it. Over forty years ago as young man of 31, I put the Lord’s teaching to the test. It makes the drunkard- sober, the hopeless- hopeful, the crooked- straight. It transforms. The Word of God is life giving, life changing and life sustaining.
Every person comes to base their life and life decisions based on something they believe to be true. If they believe there is no God, and the Bible is only an ancient book written by men whose motive was to control others, then they will do what is right in their own eyes. The natural man who cannot understand spiritual truths will base his decision on superficial judgements because they do not have all the facts. This is what Jesus says to his enemies, his critics in verse 24: “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgement.
THE QUESTION: IS JESUS THE CHRIST?
Notice the question 2000 years ago on this very day Jesus is teaching in the temple, it is the same today. Is Jesus the Christ? “Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Christ?” And the debated continued: “But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.” Jesus’ response: “Then Jesus still teaching in the temple courts cried out: “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own, but He who sent me is true. You do not know Him, but I know Him, because I am from Him and He sent me.” At this they tried to seize Jesus, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. But the Pharisees sent for the temple guard to arrest him. He was disturbing their peace!
THE LAST DAY OF THE FESTIVAL.
The very last day of the festival would be the seventh day. On this day the priests would march around the altar and draw water and pour it out. Water they poured out was symbolic of the water Moses drew from the rock. * Water for drinking is one of the symbols of the Holy Spirit in the Bible. Water for cleansing or washing is a symbol of the Word of God.*
On this last day when the poured out the water, Jesus cried out with a loud voice: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” Do you hear the longing of the Savior’s heart in this invitation? John tells us, by this living water reference, Jesus meant the Holy Spirit.
Moses smote the rock and from it came water. The Lord Jesus was smitten at the cross. After His resurrection and resurrection ministry, Jesus ascended to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to earth to take His place. The Holy Spirit has been flowing all over the world since that day at Pentecost centuries ago. The flowing of the Spirit does not stop. The Spirit is filling men and women, boys and girls from every nation on the face of the earth. Mightier than any river from the Amazon, the Mississippi, the Nile or the mighty roaring Niagara Falls, the Sprit is the greatest power on earth. And to know that this power which raised up Jesus , this incomparable power in the third person of the God Head, the Holy Spirit is in each of us who believe is all the more remarkable. How can we take Him for granted? How can we not be consciously aware of Him at all times? He fills every believer in every way. We have all of Him- the question is does He have all of you?
Today, the question is still debated: Who is this Jesus? Some thought that day, he was a prophet. Others believe He was the Christ. But for others, Jesus was a problem. He was a threat to their way of life. Thus the people were divided then as they are now.
The temple guards who were sent to arrest Jesus came by to the Jewish leaders – empty-handed. They had not arrested Jesus or taken him into custody. When asked why they had not arrested Jesus, the temple guards replied: “No one ever spoke the way this man does.” And may I add, no one ever will. No one will ever love me like Jesus.
Nicodemus speaks up for Jesus. John refers to Nicodemus as the one who came to Jesus at night. Nicodemus had been drawn to Jesus by his teaching and his miraculous signs. I believe after his visit with Jesus in John 3, Nicodemus must have been studying the scriptures to see what they said about the Messiah, the Christ. He wanted to have Jesus come speak to the group. If any of them who continued to talk about Jesus being from Nazareth, from Galilee and therefore not qualified to be the Messiah according to scripture, they could have checked the records and discovered Jesus was born in Bethlehem and was a descendant of the house of David. Genealogy records were kept in the temple. The Jews had their own form of Ancestry.com. Their knowledge of Jesus was based on half-truths and ignorance. The half-truth- he was from Nazareth of Galilee. Ignorance- they had not looked at the birth records to see where he was born and from the house of David. Now the Sanhedrin and these supposedly learned men are baffled. When they asked the soldiers, these temple guards why they had not arrested Jesus, they said they had never heard a man speak like him. When one cannot come up with an answer to the argument, they attack the speaker with ridicule. To the temple guards they say, ‘are you deceived too? ‘ When Nicodemus suggest they proceed according to their law, which is to hear a man first before condemning him, they laugh at Nicodemus and say are you from Galilee too?
Guess what? They did not have all the facts! They did not want to know the truth. So it is today, people do not want to know the truth. It is inconvenient. It is a threat to their lifestyle. It interferes with their pleasures. They will not listen and learn.