John – God Speaks!
Imagine growing up in a deeply religious family who are at their place of worship “every time the doors are open”. This family probably helps out those in their community, as long as they are part of their community. This family is so devout that they will travel at their own expense to the “big city” to attend religious conventions with other religious families of their faith. The family works hard to obey all the rules. This family believes in doing the right things no matter what.
Jesus grew up in a family like this. Jesus, Son of God, grew up with deeply religious brothers who did not believe He was indeed the Son of God, The Messiah, the One who would save the lost of this world…at least not yet.
The brothers are impressed at what He can do but do not believe the Truth of Who He is. They want their earthly brother to become famous, probably thinking they will bask in some of the notoriety, too.
Jesus knows their hearts. Jesus also knows the hearts of the crowd and the hearts of the religious elite who are in power. Jesus’ Father knows it is not time to reveal Jesus for Who He really is but speaks through Jesus at the event and at the synagogue. God’s word in Jesus who is the “word made flesh” speaks. Remember that thought.
Now, imagine walking into a crowd of people who do not know you well. What they do know they critically judge and surmise you are not worth hearing…until you speak.
John 7, New Living Translation
Jesus and His Brothers
After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. 2 But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, 3 and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! 4 You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” 5 For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.
6 Jesus replied, “Now is not the right time for me to go, but you can go anytime. 7 The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil. 8 You go on. I’m not going to this festival, because my time has not yet come.” 9 After saying these things, Jesus remained in Galilee.
Jesus Teaches Openly at the Temple
10 But after his brothers left for the festival, Jesus also went, though secretly, staying out of public view. 11 The Jewish leaders tried to find him at the festival and kept asking if anyone had seen him. 12 There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds. Some argued, “He’s a good man,” but others said, “He’s nothing but a fraud who deceives the people.” 13 But no one had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.
14 Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach. 15 The people were surprised when they heard him. “How does he know so much when he hasn’t been trained?” they asked.
16 So Jesus told them, “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. 17 Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. 18 Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies. 19 Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me.”
20 The crowd replied, “You’re demon possessed! Who’s trying to kill you?”
21 Jesus replied, “I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed. 22 But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses’ law of circumcision. (Actually, this tradition of circumcision began with the patriarchs, long before the law of Moses.) 23 For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? 24 Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”
Is Jesus the Messiah?
25 Some of the people who lived in Jerusalem started to ask each other, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 But here he is, speaking in public, and they say nothing to him. Could our leaders possibly believe that he is the Messiah? 27 But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.”
28 While Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he called out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I’m not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him. 29 But I know him because I come from him, and he sent me to you.” 30 Then the leaders tried to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come.
31 Many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him. “After all,” they said, “would you expect the Messiah to do more miraculous signs than this man has done?”
32 When the Pharisees heard that the crowds were whispering such things, they and the leading priests sent Temple guards to arrest Jesus. 33 But Jesus told them, “I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me. 34 You will search for me but not find me. And you cannot go where I am going.”
35 The Jewish leaders were puzzled by this statement. “Where is he planning to go?” they asked. “Is he thinking of leaving the country and going to the Jews in other lands? Maybe he will even teach the Greeks! 36 What does he mean when he says, ‘You will search for me but not find me,’ and ‘You cannot go where I am going’?”
If Jesus walked among us and entered a crowd of people standing around at church discussing life, would we listen?
Are we part of the tough crowd or part of the believing, no matter what, crowd?
Does the Truth in the Person of Jesus offend us or restore our relationship with the God who created us?
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
In our Lord’s actions, we see a beautiful illustration of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. The Father had a plan for His Son, and nothing could spoil that plan.
It requires spiritual discernment to know God’s timing.
NOTE: Many people in the crowd of festival attenders would not be influenced by the attitude of the religious leaders at Jerusalem. You will note in John 7:20 that “the people” were amazed that anybody would want to kill Jesus! They were not up to date on all the gossip in the city and had to learn the hard way that Jesus was considered a lawbreaker by the officials.
When Jesus began to teach openly in the temple, the debate shifted to His doctrine (John 7:14–19). Character and doctrine go together, of course. It would be foolish to trust the teachings of a liar!
The Jews depended on education and authorities and received their doctrine secondhand, but Jesus insisted that we experience the authority of truth personally.
Dr. G. Campbell Morgan said it perfectly: “When men are wholly, completely consecrated to the will of God and want to do that above everything else, then they find out that Christ’s teaching is divine, that it is the teaching of God.”
This was certainly a crisis hour in Jesus’ ministry, and some of the leaders tried to have Him arrested, but “his hour was not yet come.” Many of the pilgrims put their faith in Him. It was a faith based on miracles, but at least it was a beginning (see John 2:23; 6:2, 26).
Nicodemus first became interested in Jesus because of His miracles (John 3:1–2), and eventually he openly professed faith in Christ.
Where are we in our faith? Merely impressed or Wholly committed?
Father, Lord, and Savior,
I believe. Even when the crowd is tough, I will believe. Teach me. Restore me. Transform me. I’m yours. Your servant is listening.
In Jesus Name, Amen