We join Jesus today as He attends the Feast of Booths in Jerusalem. He comes to it quietly but about midway through He steps back into the spotlight and firefight.
John starts his story about this event by talking about Jesus’ brothers. Jesus’ life is being sought by the Jewish leadership. They are NOT pleased with His teachings. They want Him dead. I’m pretty sure Jesus’ brothers knew this too. I don’t believe it was a secret from anyone. So what do His brothers do? They try to goad Him into going to Jerusalem. “No one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world” (verse 4). But Jesus wouldn’t be goaded into rash actions. He would go in His own time. Jesus’ family goes on without Him. He followed later, in secret. No sense making it too easy for the Jewish rulers.
I was curious about this festival so I googled it. I already knew a little about it, like that the people had to live in temporary shelters during the weeklong festival. But there was much more that I didn’t know. I found two links that I enjoyed reading. The first is a Jewish link from Judaism 101. The second is from a Reformed Judaism website. Bottom line is that the celebration is in memory of the 40 years of wandering and living in “booths” that the nation of Israel did following their exodus from Egypt. It also celebrates the fall harvest and prays for the coming rainy season.
So it would have been pretty easy for Jesus to arrive unnoticed in all the goings on in Jerusalem. Everyone was looking for Him though. There was talk about Him all over, but it was kept quiet for fear of the religious leaders. There were mixed feelings about Who He was.
Half way through the week Jesus reveals Himself by going to the temple and teaching. I wonder why He revealed Himself. Was it because of the talk of the people? Were they saying things He felt needed correcting? Or was it to keep the religious leaders stirred up for God’s plan?
We are not told what Jesus is teaching either, but we get to see the religious leaders’ reaction to it. Jesus is teaching with astounding knowledge and understanding. The religious leaders can’t find any flaws in His teaching or even anything to argue with Him about. Instead they wanted to know how He got so smart. “How is it that this man has learning, when He has never studied?” (verse 15).
I LOVE Jesus’ response to that question. “My teaching is not mine, but His who sent me” (verse 16). Jesus is part of the Godhead and therefore has full understanding of EVERYTHING about God, but He laid that aside to be with us in the flesh. He didn’t lose His understanding, but put His will in submission to the Father’s and His glory below the Father’s. So the “teaching” He received came directly from the Father and He shared it freely with any who would listen.
Jesus also threw a challenge out to the religious leaders. In an off handed way, He asked them if they were really seeking to do God’s will. “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority” (verse 17). This should have answered their question later on in Jesus’ ministry. If the religious leaders were REALLY trying to do God’s will, they would have recognized and acknowledged the truth. We see from their behavior that they were seeking their own glory, not the Father’s.
Jesus then asks the crowd surrounding Him, point blank, why they are trying to kill Him. I’m not sure how to take their answer. When they said Jesus had “a demon” were they meaning it literally or were they saying, “You’re crazy”? We say someone is “crazy” when they have a wild idea that we have no idea where it came from. We also say someone is “crazy” when they have some form of mental disorder. It’s all in the inflection. I wish we could read inflections. We can a little more in our writings now with underline, all caps, and bold. But God didn’t include those in His directions through the Holy Spirit. I guess that’s one more bench question to add to my list.
Whatever their meaning of, “You have a demon!”, we know their next remark was meant to deflect any guilt away from themselves. “Who is seeking to kill You?” Yah, like you don’t know. Jesus didn’t let them off the hook either. He addressed their first charge against Him beautifully. The charge was healing on the Sabbath. Even Moses prescribed the work of God, circumcision, could be done on the Sabbath. “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (verse). Words we ALL need to live by.
Father God, thank You for Your teachings and Your knowledge. Thank You that You share Your knowledge, in smaller measures, when I come to You each time. Please help me ALWAYS share only what You share with me and share for YOUR glory, not my own.
Jesus I’m really looking forward to gaining a LOT more knowledge when we stand face to face. I don’t know how many of the questions that have popped up in me will even be worthy of raising with You, but for now, I love thinking about them. I believe You placed that questioning and longing for more in me for a reason. Could this be the reason? Thank You for the curious and imaginative spirit You gave me. Please help me use it for Your glory.