"The Feast of Booths"
John 7: 1-24
In this Study:
We get a rare glimpse of Jesus interacting with His family
Jesus attends the "Feast of Booths," also called, "Feasts of Tabernacles,"
Hostile plots are formed against Him.
"The Feast of Booths," is believed to have taken place a few months after our previous study. Jesus has traveled from Galilee, some sixty to eighty miles to the north, and is now in Jerusalem.
The "Feast of Booths" is still practiced today. It is celebrated as a joyous occasion to commemorate God's faithfulness when the Children of Israel were in the wilderness, and lived in booths.
In our previous study, "The Bread of Life," most of the people had refused Jesus' teaching, and possibly thousands had abandoned Him.
However, the twelve disciples, except for Judas, would stay to the end.
"Jesus at the Feast of Booths"
Verse 1: "After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him."
Not only did many of His Followers leave, many of them became hostile toward Him. Even before this, the rulers of the Jews had wanted to kill Him.
Galilee, (where Nazareth and Capernaum are
located), and Judea, (including the city of Jerusalem where the Feast of Booths was held), were under
Anyone in trouble in one area would be safer to remain in the other.
Most of Jesus' Followers were concentrated in Galilee. Therefore, Jesus was safer to remain in Galilee.
Verse 2: "Now the Jew’s Feast of Booths was at hand."
In my Bible, the "ESV" it is the "Feast of the Booths." In some translations it is the "Feast of Tabernacles," but they are one
and the same.
There is some disagreement on the chronological order of this study, but it is thought to be one year after the healing of the cripple at the Pool of Bethesda, (during the previous "Feast of Booths)."
It was customary, even required,
for the men to "camp out" on the roof tops in booths or tents, (temporary shelters) during the Feast of Booths. The Feast was held each year, and lasted for
Verses 3-5: "So his brothers said to him, "Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world." For not even his brothers believed in him."
In that day most teachers taught in public places. Frank open speech was considered a virtue, and secret acts deceitful. So His brothers may have thought they were giving Him good advice and encouragement.
However, by the above Scripture, "For not even his brothers believed in him," it seems that even His brothers failed to grasp His true mission, and were perhaps taunting Him by saying "If you do these things...".
Wouldn't you think His brothers would be at the top of the list of people He should have been able to trust. But most of His followers had turned against Him.
A few years back I wrote a short article on the importance of being Loyal and Faithful, and was amazed at the interest and response it attracted.
Verse 6: "Jesus said to them, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always here."
Jesus knew that He would attend the Feast of Booths, but He also had
a timetable that others couldn't understand. To His brothers, anytime
was right, but Jesus was saying:
"This is not the right time, I know what I need to do and when I need to do it, and it has nothing to do with your schedule."
Verse 7: "The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil."
Talking to His brothers Jesus said, You're no threat to the wrongly held beliefs of these people, so they're not out to get you. It' me they hate, because I tell them there is a better way and point out their evilness.
Verse 8: You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come."
Some references say "I am not going to the Feasts of Booths now." He might have said, go on and have a good time, I'll be there
when the time is right for me.
He obviously intended to go, but He would attend in secret, (at first).
Perhaps His brothers wanted Him to go with them simply because families normally traveled together.
Regarding: "My time has not fully come"
He was to be the Passover Lamb, and would allow nothing to interfere with the timing of His execution on the cross.
This is a great example of how God's timing applies to us!
Verses 9-10: "After saying this, he remained in Galilee. But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private."
So He sent His brothers on then later went up to the feast of
booths in private. (Women weren't required to stay in the booths, only
If Jesus had made Himself known, the people
would have surrounded Him and made a big issue of His presence. Some
needed healing, some wanting to know more.
Others were looking for something He might do or say against the Law, that would carry the death sentence.
"He also went up, not publicly but in private:"
He clearly did not want to be recognized at this time, so He just sort of slipped in without any fanfare.
History records that it was common practice for biographers to describe their subjects appearance in detail, including any unusual features, (whether flattering or not); however, none of the Gospels do.
I do not have the answer to this, but many believe the Apostle John left these details out because Jesus had no unusual features, (was of average build and appearance).
In that period, having an average Hebrew man's appearance would mean that He had curly black hair, brown skin, and was perhaps a little over five feet tall. The Palestinian coins portrayed the Jewish men with beards, and hair down to their shoulders.
Verse 11: "The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, "Where is he?"
Again, it was a Jewish requirement for the men to attend the Passover, Feast of Booths, and Pentecost. Jesus respected the Law and would go, and the people were expecting and actively looking for Him.
Verse 12: "And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, "He is a good man," others said, "No, he is leading the people astray."
The people were speculating. "There was much muttering," speaking lowly in indistinct tones) about Him.
There were so many opinions that the people didn't know who to believe.
Would they believe Jesus, whom John the Baptist said was the Messiah and that they had seen do miracles, or their leaders and teachers of the Law who were supposed to know all there was to know about God and His plan.
The Leaders were saying, "He is leading the people astray:"
Leading the people astray was a serious charge. It was against the Law to deceive the people and lead them into idolatry or another religion, and the penalty was death, (Deut 13).
These were tough laws weren't they? Some Jewish sources were still charging Jesus with this crime even into the second century.
Verse 13: "Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him."
"The Jews," were clearly Jerusalem authorities whose responsibilities included repressing the Christian view, (or any other religion that competed with their own); and the people were afraid of them.
"No one spoke openly of Him" for fear of the authorities.
The Feast of Booths was to be a happy joyous occasion, but because of the Jewish authorities, neither Jesus or the people could be completely open.
Verse 14: "About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching"
The "Feast of Booths" lasted around 8 days, so Jesus probably waited three or four days before going, and when He arrived He began to teach.
Don't you know He would! He wasn't afraid of them or the consequences of His teaching, He had simply been waiting for Gods' perfect timing.
And "He went up into the temple."
Teaching in that day was often done in the temple and temple courts, and there would often be large crowds.
Verse 15: "The Jews therefore marveled, saying, "How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?"
Many of the Greco-Romans couldn't afford even a primary education, but the Jewish children, except for the very poor, (which a carpenters family was not) would learn how to read and recite the Bible even if they could not write.
The "marvel" was not that Jesus could read, but that even though He had never formally studied Scripture with an advanced teacher, He could expound as well as any of the scholars,
Verse 16: "So Jesus answered them, "My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me."
The answer Jesus gave was simple and straight forward, "it's not my teaching, but God's, the One who sent Me." God had taught Jesus!
Verse 17: "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".
The people at the Feast of Booths were confused, and Jesus, knowing this goes on to explain that:
If anyone's heart is sincerely right with God and his intent is to do His will, he will be able to discern whether Jesus' Words were from God, or from His natural abilities and knowledge, (Jesus was both God and man).
Verse 18: "The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood."
Although false prophets were to be executed, true prophets were to be followed.
According to the Bible, and history, many of the Jewish leaders
and authorities were prideful glory seekers. In this verse Jesus said
they were speaking on their "own authority," meaning it was not
something God had told them.
It was just something that would give them control over others, and bring themselves prestige and glory.
The people were already under stress and burdens from the Roman government, and harsh way of life.
These rulers intruded
even on their private lives, and forced
them to abide by laws they themselves had added.
The people should have been able to trust their leaders, but they were not trustworthy.
It happens today, and is the origin of false churches, such as, Jim Jones, and Heavens Gates. Concerning the Scripture they say, I know what the Word says, but this is what God told me.
God's Word and His Spirit are powerful and wonderful! He places
no limits on how far we can go with Him. He can take us far beyond
anything we can dream up of ourselves.
Wouldn't you say we are already ahead of the Jim Jones and Heaven's Gates people? Be careful who you follow, and don't blindly follow any man. God's Word is the ultimate answer.
Verse 19: "Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?"
To paraphrase, "You have the Law Moses and God gave you, but none of you keep it, so what's your reason for wanting to kill me?"
It may have seemed to the people at the Feast of Booths that He asked this question for no apparent reason.
However, this is the "Searcher of Hearts," the One who knows the heart of man. He knew that even at this joyous festival, the Feast of Booths, the Jews were plotting to have Him killed.
In saying, "none of you keep the law," He wasn't saying they had
neglected the law, but that they had not grasped the true purpose of the law.
Jesus could see beyond their pretense to honor the law, and knew that even though the law condemns murder, they were plotting to kill Him, (which they eventually did). (Ex 20:13)
What the Rulers of the Jews did to Jesus, even under the Jewish Law, was murder.
Verse 20: "The crowd answered, "You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?"
Apparently the crowd, unaware of the murderous intentions of the authorities; thought that Jesus was paranoid, insane, or possibly a false prophet.
Verse 21: "Jesus answered them, "I did one work, and you all marvel at it."
Determining the chronological order is very difficult, but the above Scripture is perhaps referring to the Healing of the Cripple
at the Pool of Bethesda.
He seems to be amazed that they would marvel so over one miracle.
Verses 22-23: "Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well?"
The Jewish custom of circumcision on the Sabbath was seen as perfecting the child, and Jesus was saying that to heal and make a person whole accomplished the same purpose.
Jesus challenged their Godly knowledge and reasoning by was asking why, "If circumcision and the slaying of the lamb for Passover had precedence over the Sabbath, would His supernatural healing not also have precedence over the Sabbath?
The Jewish teachers of the Law had twisted and stretched the meaning of "The Law" to the point of confusion. It had become so distorted that only these unfaithful leaders could interpret it's meaning.
The Law of Moses had slowly become their law, and, as Jesus said in verse 19, "Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law."
"The Law" had been contaminated by man's opinion, sinful desires, and 'self fulfillment.' Their version of the law had become a blemish on the true "Law of Moses."
Verse 24: "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment."
Fair and sound judgment was considered to be as important in the Jewish community as was sound Jewish teaching.
Jesus was asking the people to seek the truth. In this case, (The fact of a matter regardless of appearances).
However, they were judging by appearance, and ignoring the truth.
As you probably know: During Jesus' time the common language in Israel, and the language Jesus spoke, was not Hebrew, but Aramaic (ar-a-ma-ic)
This concludes our study of, "The Feast of Booths"
In our next study,
"Can This be the Christ?"
John 7: 25-52,
The people are wondering if Jesus could actually be the Messiah (Christ) - Jesus again debates with the Pharisee's - Promises the Holy Spirit.