For six months Jesus remained in Galilee ministering to the people. Now it was time for the Feast of Tabernacles. (Leviticus 23:33-43) The Feast of Tabernacles came in the autumn and lasted for seven days. It was a time when the Jews thanked God for the harvest. The Jews also remembered when Moses led them through the wilderness and slept in tents. The Jewish people would make tents out of what they had and live in them during the Feast.
Because the Jewish leaders in Judea wanted to kill Jesus he had remained in Galilee during the six months between Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles. The brothers of Jesus had urged Him to go to the Feast in Jerusalem to publicly proclaim His Messiahship. His brothers still had no real faith in Him and wanted to have His claims tested, and if they were true, to have Jesus receive national recognition. Jesus answered them, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune.”
In this answer to His brothers John records more evidence of Jesus’ deity. Jesus shows here that He has divine knowledge in that He knew beforehand the exact time and nature of His death. Jesus did only the will of the Father and it was not His time to die. His death was to be at Passover and not the Feast of the Tabernacles. After the brothers of Jesus left for the Feast Jesus did secretly go but not for the purpose of proclaiming His Messiahship or to become the sacrificial lamb to take away the sin of the world.
It was a curious statement that His brother’s time is always opportune. Jesus was saying that their spirit and practices were of the world and they had nothing to fear from the world. Jesus had gained the world’s hatred by His witness against sin. Jesus’ brothers were not the only ones interested in His attendance at the Feast. Jesus had become a person of national interest and the claim He had been making could not be discarded. The Jewish rulers were watching for his appearance and the multitudes of people were also watching to see Jesus. The people were divided in their opinion of Him. Some saw Jesus as a good man while others said he leads the multitudes astray.
It is this way today that men are compelled to face the claims of Jesus. These claims of Jesus cannot be put aside and must be addressed.
In verse seven the people that Jesus is referring to are the unbelievers in this world. Most of the people today hate Jesus for the same reason that they hated Him when He walked the earth. They also hate His followers the Christians. They hated Jesus because He made them aware of their sins. Natural man loves his sinful nature because his heart is set on the desires of the flesh and the lust for this world. Jesus did not only reveal their sin but He also provided a solution to their sin problem. He did so by His work on the cross and as people see Him as the problem in truth Jesus is the solution.
After the Feast of the Tabernacles had begun Jesus appeared in the temple and began to teach. Jesus astonished the scribes and Pharisees with His teaching and they were asking how He was able to teach the scriptures with such knowledge and authority. Jesus replied to their question by saying, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.” The teachings of Jesus are of divine nature for He came from God His Father. He has come from and has existed in the Kingdom of Heaven. He is the author of the scriptures. Jesus is not teaching second hand lessons but teaching in the first person perspective. His teaching will be accepted by those who are in sympathy with the divine will. Faith is an instrument of the moral rather than the intellectual facilities. Faith is more of spiritual sympathy than external evidence. Those who are eager to do the will of God cannot fail to yield themselves to the Son of God.
The only crime the Scribes and Pharisees have against Jesus is that He healed a lame man on the Sabbath. Jesus defends His conduct by pointing out that the Mosaic Law itself justifies His reputed breach of the Law. The Law says that a boy must be circumcised on the eighth day after birth, even if that day falls on the Sabbath. Therefore it is not a violation for the priest to circumcise on the Sabbath. Jesus points out is it then a violation for a man to be made well on the Sabbath. Jesus then warns the Jews against foolish and superficial judgments.
The multitudes begin to question if Jesus is really the Messiah, they are puzzled that they know of His parents and their home and His early life. The coming of the Messiah was supposed to be a mystery. Then Jesus publicly claims that their belief of His origin is also superficial. Jesus tells them that His origin is from God and from Heaven and He soon will return there. Jesus states that soon He shall go away and they will not be able to find Him. Little did the multitudes understand the words that Jesus was speaking even though they are clear to us today.
People today do not reject Jesus on such trivial grounds or because of superficial reasoning. People know this and they know that about Jesus and have rejected Him because of other conjectured excuses. What did Jesus really do, what did He really say, who can find blame with His life, and what were His claims? Pilate said, “I find no guilt in Him.”
Is it not only “a little while,” that we have opportunity to accept Him. Time is a fleeting thing and quickly is gone and lost opportunity will only bring remorse and regret, when the hour has past, the day is done, and life has past us by, and we no longer have opportunity to receive and follow Him.
On this the last day of the Festival Jesus made His supreme claim, and gave the climax to His teaching about the life that would result from faith in Him. Jesus declared that He fulfilled all the Festival symbolized and His followers would receive all the blessedness and joy that the Festival typified. The Festival of Tabernacles commemorated life in the wilderness of during the time between their freedom of bondage in Egypt and possession of The Promised Land. Each morning in the temple the priest would pour out water bringing to mind the water Moses had brought forth from the rock. On the last day of the feast, the eighth day, this practice was omitted. The priest withheld the pouring out of the water either to suggest Israel had received the blessing when entering The Promised Land, or to indicate the thirst from greater spiritual blessings which the prophets had spoken of had not been realized. Perhaps this is what Jesus saw, a people that were still thirsty in their spirits and distressed. In His love for the people Jesus cried, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.”
In the Old Testament there are many passages that speak of the blessings that the Messiah would bring. Jesus alluded to this practice of the priest by saying that any who had spiritual thirst could come to Him and He would satisfy their spiritual thirst. This is the same message that Jesus had taught the woman at the well in Samaria in John 4:10. “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” When Jesus was speaking to the woman at the well His words “living water” He was speaking about eternal life. In the passage from the Festival His words “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink,” refers to the Holy Spirit. Both uses would be correct because when we receive the Holy Spirit He brings eternal life. The Holy Spirit empowers us to do God’s work. The Holy Spirit is like a fountain that flows always inside our hearts and our spirits.
Jesus was speaking before His death as the Holy Spirit was not given until after Jesus had been glorified. Like the Father and the Son the Holy Spirit has always existed. The Holy Spirit is God, as the Father and the Son is God. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the three persons of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit was present with the Father and the Son when the world was created. (Genesis 1:2) The Holy Spirit has always been working in this world. (Psalms 139:7 2Peter 1:21)
After Jesus had spoken to the people they had differing opinions of who He was. Some were saying that He was “The Prophet or “The Messiah”, which in this case meant the same. Others said He could not be the Messiah as He was from Nazareth. They did not realize that He was born in Bethlehem. So in fact the prophecy of Micah 5:2 did point to Jesus.
The Jewish leaders had sent officers to arrest Jesus and they were unable to find fault with Him and returned back to the Jewish Leaders without making the arrest. The crowds were divided but many believed in Jesus. Without finding a solid reason to arrest Him the officers could not oppose so many people. Jesus spoke with so much authority and in a manner they had never heard before and they had a fear of arresting him.
The Jewish leaders were angered with the officers and said only hopeless ignorance could accept the claims of Jesus. The Pharisees spent many years studying the Law of Moses and believed the people to be ignorant and unlearned and willing to believe anything.
Nicodemus, the one who had come to Jesus in the night, declares that the law does not permit them to find guilt with Jesus without hearing His words and knowing what He is doing. Nicodemus made a weak defense and lacks moral courage for Jesus but he does display a growing faith.
Where there is no self pride of intellect the truth of Jesus and His words find a welcome. People such as this welcome the promises of Jesus. Those who oppose Jesus usually reject Jesus without reason. They seldom listen allowing Him to fully present His claims. They may have a mind full of the knowledge of law and human wisdom but refuse to honestly face His words and works. Nicodemus is facing the light and seeking the truth. Through Nicodemus is of a timid temperament at last he will be a disciple of Jesus. Nicodemus will bring his hundredweight of spices to the tomb to show his devotion to the Lord he really loved.
Leviticus 23:33-43, John 18:38, 2Peter 1:21, Micah 5:2