One characteristic of Jesus’ ministry is that a lot of people didn’t know what to think of Him. He defied expectations and shattered preconceived notions. One out of many examples is that Jesus didn’t drive the Romans out of Jerusalem, but drove the Jews out of the Temple. Speaking of defying expectations, the Galileans were upset and frustrated because He wouldn’t become their king and give them their daily bread. The Jewish religious leaders persecuted Jesus because He healed on the Sabbath. They wanted to kill Him because He spoke of God as His Father. They reasoned that Jesus couldn’t be the Messiah because He was not doing things the way they thought they ought to be done. With this in mind, we turn to John 7:1-36 and observe a contentious debate between Jesus and a crowd in Jerusalem during the Feast of Booths.
You are Hiding! (7:1-13)
The first attack came from His own brothers who accused Him of hiding. They said, “Leave here and go to Judea so Your disciples can see Your works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he’s seeking public recognition. If you do these things, show Yourself to the world” (7:3-4). This was a rebuke to Jesus because “not even His brothers believed in Him” (7:5). How tragic that those closest to Jesus did not believe that He is the Messiah.
They accused Jesus of hiding out of fear, but Jesus told them that He is not hiding but is working according to His Father’s schedule. Jesus replied, “My time has not yet arrived…” (7:6). All things are moving according to plan. He told them that “your time is always at hand” (7:6). What does Jesus mean? He explains, “The world cannot hate you, but it does hate Me because I testify about it–that its deeds are evil” (7:7). Jesus’ teaching elicits anger and hatred from those who are not being drawn by the Father (6:44). The angry crowd wants to kill Jesus (and they will), but it wasn’t the proper time for it to happen. Jesus did not go to the feast with His brothers, but came secretly (7:10). Jesus overheard the discussion the people were having about Him. Some said, “He’s a good man” (7:12) while others said, “He’s deceiving the people” (7:12) All of them were fearful “because they feared the Jews” (7:13). Jesus did not reply to them at this time but waited for the proper time.
You are a Heel! (7:14-19)
The second attack came from the crowd who accused Him of being a phony. At the midpoint of the 7-day festival, “Jesus went up into the temple complex and began to teach” (7:14). The time was right to begin teaching and “the Jews were amazed and said, ‘How does He know the Scriptures, since He hasn’t been trained?’” (7:15). They are amazed Jesus knows the Scriptures and they charge Him with false teaching and speaking contrary to the Law of Moses. One main issue they had with Jesus was His healing on the Sabbath. Jesus replied, “My teaching isn’t Mine, but is from the One who sent Me. If anyone wants to do His will, he will understand the teaching is from God or if I am speaking on My own” (7:17). Jesus makes it clear that His teaching is from God. The Jews claimed to obey the Law of Moses, yet they reject Jesus’ teaching. Jesus’ teaching does not contradict or conflict with the Law of Moses. He adds, “Didn’t Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the Law! Why do you want to kill Me?” (7:19).
You are Hysterical! (7:20-24)
The third attack from the crowd was the charge that Jesus is demon possessed. When Jesus mentioned that there were those who wanted to kill Him, the crowd responded: “You have a demon! Who wants to kill You?” (7:20). There may have been some in the crowd surprised to hear this, but we were already told in John 7:1 that the “Jews were trying to kill Him.” Also, in John 5:18 we were told, “This is why the Jews began trying all the more to kill Him: not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” Jesus replied, “I did one work, and you are all amazed” (7:21). Responding to their charge of breaking the Law, Jesus said: “Consider this…if a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses won’t be broken, are you angry at Me because I made a man entirely well on the Sabbath? Stop judging according to outward appearances; rather judge according to righteous judgment” (7:23-24). Jesus is doing His Father’s will and His teaching is from God. If anyone has a demon, it isn’t Jesus!
You are a Hoax! (7:25-36)
The people do not know what to make of Jesus at this point. They think He is hysterical because He said the Jews want to kill Him. Then they are amazed that the One the Jews want to kill is speaking publicly. They also made a very confusing statement: “We know where this man [Jesus] is from. When the Messiah comes, nobody will know where He is from” (7:27). Micah prophesied that the Messiah would be from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) so why would the crowd not know where the Messiah is from? This was most likely based on a misunderstanding of Malachi 3:1, “The Lord you seek will suddenly come to His temple…”.
Jesus once again reiterated that He has been sent by God the Father (7:29). Upon hearing this, the crowd tried to seize Him but “no one laid a hand on Him because His hour had not yet come” (7:30). Some in the crowd believed He is the Messiah, and the Pharisees sought to arrest Him but were unable. Jesus announced “I am only with you for a short time. Then I’m going to the One who sent Me. You will look for Me, but you will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come” (7:33-34). Jesus was speaking of ascending into heaven but the crowd did not understand His words.
You are the Holy One of God!
The crowd did not know what to believe about Jesus. No one spoke like He did. No one performed the signs He did. He didn’t do things exactly the way the Jewish religious leaders wanted them to be done and many people did not follow Him. This section of the Gospel of John is difficult because it describes a tense time in Jesus’ ministry. In fact, from John 5:1 through 12:50 there is ongoing conflict between the Jewish people and leaders with Jesus. Jesus was not surprised by this. In John 12:46 Jesus summarized His mission: “I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me would not remain in darkness.” Do not be stiff-necked and hard-hearted. Believe that Jesus is the Holy One of God!
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