Jesus in the Temple at Jerusalem – John 7:10-25

As we learned last time, Jesus turned down His brothers’ suggestion that He join them in Jerusalem for the Feast of Booths.  But once they are on their way, Jesus does follow them to the feast in secret. 10 But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as if in secret.

11 So the Jews were seeking Him at the feast and were saying, “Where is He?” (There must have been some rumor of Jesus’ arrival at the feast or just an expectation by the Jewish leaders that this is an event He would attend.  The “Jews” here are probably the Jewish religious leaders out to arrest Jesus.  They had no authority to arrest Jesus while He was in Galilee since it was under Herod’s rule.  But now, they suspect that Jesus is back on their turf, so to speak.)

12 There was much grumbling among the crowds concerning Him. Some were saying, “He is a good man.” Others were saying, “No, on the contrary, He leads the people astray.” (Jesus’ identity will be a dividing line from this day forward for the next 2000 years.) 13 Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews. (If anyone did know of Jesus’ whereabouts, they were keeping silent.  It was a well-known fact that Jesus was a wanted man.)

14 But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach. (It was a common practice for rabbis to go to the temple and set up shop in an area for teaching; to basically put on a teaching seminar.  So Jesus, following the rabbinical tradition, is about to begin a seminar of His own.) 15 The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated ?” (The Jewish leaders recognized that Jesus taught with a great command of the law and religious issues.  Given that Jesus was never trained in the rabbinical schools, the Jews cannot understand where this expertise came from.  We will see later that the soldiers were so impressed with His teaching that they refused to carry out their assignment to arrest Jesus.)

16 So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 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.” (Anyone who truly desires to do God’s will, will be able to judge the origin of Jesus’ teaching.)

18 “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory ; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. 19 Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” (Because there is no unrighteousness in Me, why do you seek to kill Me?) 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?” (The crowd makes the false assertion that no one is out to kill Jesus.)

21 Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel.” (I have done one controversial thing [Jesus is referring here to His healing a man on the Sabbath], and you get all bent out of shape.) 22 “For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath?” (You allow circumcision on the Sabbath and want to disallow Me to heal the entire man on the Sabbath.  You are now the ones not making sense.)

24 “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” 25 So some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is this not the man whom they are seeking to kill?”(The crowd is now in a total state of confusion.  Is Jesus a “good man”?  Or is He a “devil leading people astray?”  Are the religious leaders really out to kill Him?  What for?  Healing on the Sabbath?  That seems pretty minor.  Or is there something more in their pursuit of His death?  We will see how Jesus answers the crowd next time.)

“My Time Has Not Yet Come” – John 7:1-9

Moving now to John chapter 7, let’s take a quick review of our timeline so far.

  • Jesus heals a lame man on the Sabbath in Jerusalem.
  • Jesus claims to be the Son of God.
  • The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem seek to kill Jesus.
  • Jesus explains to the Jerusalem crowd His unique relationship with the Father.
  • Jesus supports His claim with several witnesses:  John the Baptist, Jesus’ supernatural works, the voice of God the Father, and the Old Testament scriptures (particularly the words of Moses)
  • Jesus goes to Galilee and feeds 5000 people.
  • Jesus rejects the attempt to be made king.
  • Jesus explains to the Capernaum crowd His identity as “the Bread of Life that came down from heaven.”
  • Jesus clearly presents the crux of the gospel:  “He who believes in Me has eternal life.”

John chapter 7 starts with Jesus still in Galilee.  Based on the timeline of the synoptic gospels, it has probably been about a year since the John chapter 5 experience of Jesus in Jerusalem.

John 7:1 After these things Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. (Jesus was not returning to Jerusalem because the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Him.  This is not because Jesus is afraid of them, it is more related to the fact that “His time has not yet come”.)

2 Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was near. (The feast of tabernacles or booths was held in the fall of the year to celebrate the fall harvest.  The name comes from the fact that people lived in makeshift shelters during the eight day festival .  This was one of the three great pilgrimage feasts that happened each year and brought people from all over the countryside into the city of Jerusalem.)

3 Therefore His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. 4 For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” (Jesus’ brothers were saying, “If you are indeed the Messiah, go up to Jerusalem, home of the big show, and be recognized publicly.”  It seemed incredible to them that Jesus – if He wanted to proclaim His identity as the Messiah – would make such an effort to avoid publicity; which is exactly what it appeared Jesus was doing by laying low, as it were, in Galilee.  “If you do these things – supporting your claim to be the Messiah- show yourself.”) 5 For not even His brothers were believing in Him. (Since His brothers did not believe in Him, we don’t totally know their motivation for encouraging Jesus to go up to Jerusalem.)

6 So Jesus said to them, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune. (Jesus answers the why of His not going to Jerusalem.  “My time is not yet here.  For you, my brothers, who are not following an intentional agenda, anytime is a good time to come and go.  But for me, the time is not right.”  Jesus’ reference to this not being the right time may refer to His final revelation to the crowds as the Messiah – which was still to come on Palm Sunday – or the time of His crucifixion – still to come on Good Friday.)

As an aside, throughout Jesus’ ministry He always carried an intentionality as to what He would do next.  Was it a rude, narrow schedule on Jesus’ part?  Not at all.  Jesus constantly responded to interruptions with compassion and action.  But in the midst of all the drama He faced, He seemed to always have a “holy must” about what He should do next.

7 “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.” (This may be an allusion to the fact that the Jews in Jerusalem are out to kill Him.) 8 “Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.” 9 Having said these things to them, He stayed in Galilee. (Jesus again explains that His time has not yet come, so his brothers go up to the feast without Him.  But Jesus does have a secret plan to show up on the scene, a plan we will investigate next time.)

Words of Eternal Life – John 6:66-69

Returning now to the narrative of John chapter 6, Jesus has concluded His discussion about true food and true drink with the following result.  John 6:66 As a result of this (the confusion over Jesus’ explanation of the spiritual meaning of the true “food”, and possibly His claim to be the Christ) many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. (The followers who withdrew were not true disciples in the spiritual sense.  They were followers in the material sense.  It appears that they were attracted to Jesus by the signs and miracles; wonders performed in the material world.  His true disciples embraced the spiritual significance of the signs.  But now the crowd has diminished dramatically and Jesus turns His attention to the twelve apostles.)

67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” (Peter recognized that Jesus indeed had the words of eternal life.  The words of Christ are not merely words of wisdom, not only moral platitudes, not just a higher ethic; they are words of eternal life.  At their very core, the words of Christ are the words of life itself.  Beginning in chapter 5, Jesus has used the words “eternal life” [or in some cases, just the word “life” to refer to eternal life] over and over again, well over a dozen times in these two chapters.  And that message has not been lost on Peter.  In fact, he confirms his belief and appears to speak for the group as well in the next verse.)

69 “We have believed (met the requirement for eternal life, see John 6:40) and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” (and the basis for our belief is your identity as the Christ, the Holy One of God.)

Think about the apostles’ progression of belief.  Early on, the apostles lacked insight into Jesus’ true identity. Look at their reaction when Jesus calmed the stormy sea, “Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened” (Mk 6:551-52).

Fast forward to Matthew chapter 16, “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’  And Jesus said to Him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven’ ” (Mt 16:16-17).  They went from hardened hearts to soft hearts that embraced God’s revelation concerning the identity of His Son.

Peter’s answer, “We have wholeheartedly placed our faith in your claim to be the Holy One of God” is a perfect capstone to this chapter.  Is faith in Jesus the only way to heaven?  Jesus has said so Himself at least a dozen times in our study and we still have a chapter to go.

The Father Draws His Own – John 6:64-65

John 6:64 “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” (In the midst of His hearers’ confusion, Jesus explains that only those chosen by the Father can grasp the spiritual significance of what is going on here.  This text harkens back to John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”)

The idea of God choosing and our responsibility in salvation is just as confusing today.  Here is the short answer as I understand it.  If you scour the New Testament for every occasion where the Greek word for “choose” or “elect” is used, there is such a preponderance of use with God as the subject doing the choosing that there can be no doubt that God has chosen you to join His family.

Having said that, you also have a requirement to respond to God’s choice by faith.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one can boast.”  We almost always focus on the words grace, gift, and works in this salvation passage and almost never on the word faith.  Based on this passage and others, somehow our faith matters.  Our faith is of great importance.  Yes, salvation is by grace and we contribute nothing to this grace.  It is the free gift of God.  But to lay hold of this grace – this gift – faith is required.  So there actually is one “work” that is required of us to be saved; the “work” of faith.

This blends right in with the teaching of Jesus in John chapter 6.  “They said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?”  Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (Jn 6:28-29).  There is one “work” required of us.  It is the work of faith.  It is the work of “believing in Him [Jesus Christ] whom God has sent.”

The idea that God does the choosing and we respond in faith gives us great courage in evangelism.  We have the opportunity to join God in something He is already doing, drawing men and women to Himself.  We are not responsible to make belief happen.  This gives us tremendous freedom when we face rejection.  It is not our message that is being rejected, it is the message of Jesus Christ.  If the message of Christ is being rejected, it is because it has not been revealed by God to the hearer.  It is not because we muddled the message, did not say exactly the right words, or somehow goofed up the presentation.

The idea that God chooses does not hinder evangelism, it frees us up to plant as many seeds as possible without fear because we do not know the whole story of what God is doing next in a person’s life.  We can’t see below the surface and know where the good soil is.  Our responsibility is to plant and water, and “God causes the growth” (I Cor 3:7).  “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father” (Jn 6:65).

True Food and True Drink – John 6:55-65

As we ended last time, Jesus was explaining the spiritual significance of His “eating My flesh and drinking My blood” metaphor.  Eating the flesh of Christ and drinking the blood of Christ is a metaphor for appropriating Christ by faith, embracing the message of Christ.  It is the same as believing in Christ.  It is meant to be understood in the spiritual realm, not the physical realm.

55 “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.” (Eating is a word picture for belief in Christ.  Eating leads to eternal life.) 58 “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” (Unlike those who ate the manna in the wilderness, he who eats this bread will live forever.) 59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. (This discourse, which began in verse 26, took place as Jesus was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.)

60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” (Who can accept these difficult teachings?  They are even a challenge to His closest followers.) 61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? 62 What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?” (If I were to disappear into heaven, then would you realize that I am speaking in the heavenly realm, the spiritual side of life?)

63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (True life is given by God’s Spirit and is found in the spiritual realm.  The flesh in this discussion represents the material world.  You are not going to find your answers to life’s big questions in the material world.  An important principle of the Christian message is that there is an unseen spiritual aspect to our existence that is just as real as the material world that we see, smell, hear, and touch.  Just because we cannot experience it with our senses does not make it less real.  It exists!)

64 “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”

The idea that only those chosen by the Father can grasp the spiritual significance of what is going on here is such a weighty topic that we will give it our full consideration next post.