"Feast of Booths"
Jesus at the Feast of Booths (John 7: 1-24)
Over the last few weeks we have been studying some of the very deepest New Testament doctrine.
In our last study:
Jesus and the disciples had crossed over the Sea of Galilee, then miraculously fed what might have been 20,000 people with just a few small fish and bread. That night, as He crossed back again to the other side, He walked on water.
The next day the people followed, but they did not accept His teaching. Hundreds and possibly thousands of His Followers rejected and turned against Him.
Among those who stayed were the twelve disciples who stayed with Him to the end, except for Judas Iscariot.
This study, "The Feast of Booths," takes place a few months after our last study in Jerusalem, where Jesus has traveled from Galilee, some sixty to eighty miles to the north.
It takes place during the "Feast of Booths" or "Feasts of Tabernacles." Here we get a rare glimpse of Jesus' interaction and relationship with His family, as well as with the Jews.
Jesus is aware of the hostility and plots against Him by the Jewish Authorities.
Scripture: (John 7:1-24)
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 disciples leave, but many became hostile toward Him. And even before this the rulers of the Jews had wanted to kill Him.
And in that day Galilee, where Nazareth and Capernaum are located, and Judea, which included the city of Jerusalem were under separate jurisdictions. Anyone in trouble in one area would be safer to remain in the other.
At that time the Followers of Jesus were more concentrated in the Galilee and the rabbinic movement in Judea, which included Jerusalem. so, Jesus was safer to remain in Galilee.
VERSE 2 Now the Jew’s Feast of Booths was at hand."
My bible, the ESV, says "Feast of the Booths," some other translations, call it the "Feast of the Tabernacles." but they are one and the same. There is some disagreement in the chronological order, but this is possibly one year after the healing of the cripple at the Pool of Bethesda, which was also thought to be during a previous "Feast of Booths."
It was customary, even required that during the feast of booths, for the men to "camp out" in booths or tents, (temporary shelters) on the rooftops, during this feast, which was held each year and lasted for eight days. The "Feast of Booths" is still practiced by some today. It was to be a joyous occasion to commemorate God's faithfulness of when the people lived in the booths in the wilderness.
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. 4For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world." 5For not even his brothers believed in him.
On the one hand His brothers may have thought they were giving Him good advice and encouragement; because in that day most teachers taught in public places. Frank open speech was considered a virtue, and secret acts deceitful.
But it seems that even His brothers failed to grasp His true mission, because verse 5 says that not even His brothers believed Him, and they also seem to be taunting Him by saying "If you do these things..." (In verse 4).
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 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.
He was saying, your 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 you guys go on and have a good time, I'll be there when the right time for me.
Another reason the brothers might have wanted Him to go is that it was normal for families to travel together in those days, but it seems obvious that He fully intended to go, but that He would go in secret at first.
Regarding when He said: "my time has not fully come"
He was to be the Passover Lamb and didn't want to do anything that might allow His execution on the cross to be held apart from the appointed time.
Isn't this a classic example of how God's timing applies to us? and that we need to consider this in our prayers
VERSES 9-10 After saying this, he remained in Galilee. 10But 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 the men, but what aout Joseph? Does anyone have any verifiable information on what became of him, where he was during Jesus ministry, or if he had died?)
It's obvious that if Jesus had made Himself known the people would have surrounded Him and made a big issue of His presence, some needing healing, some wanting to know more; but some simply looking for more information to use against Him. Something He might say against the Law or that might be interpreted as His breaking the Law that might also carry the death sentence.
It says, "he also went up, not publicly but in private:"
It's clear that He didn't want to be recognized at this time, so He just sort of slipped in, as we might say, without any fanfare.
History records that it was common practice in that time for biographers to describe their subjects appearance in detail, including any unusual features, whether flattering or not. But none of the Gospels do. (wouldn't you think they would have told us something about His appearance, or at least something to give us an idea).
The fact that these details are not mentioned may be an indication that He was of average build and appearance in every way; some believe, (that aside from the power of God,) this may explain how He could pass through this crowd without being recognized.
In that time having a average Hebrew man's appearance would mean that He probably had curly black hair, brown skin, and was perhaps a little over five feet tall. The Palestinian coins of that period portray 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; and Jesus respected the Law and would go. So the people 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 divided opinions, the people didn't know who to believe; Jesus, who John the Baptist had told them was the Messiah, and who they had seen do at least one miracle; or their leaders and teachers of the Law, who were supposed to know all there was to know about God and His plan.
But others said "He is leading the people astray:" Leading the people astray was a serious charge. It was against the Law to decieve the people and to lead them into idolatry, or into another religion. Deut 13 prescribes death as the penalty.
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.
At this point in the Feast of Booths, because of the Jewish authorities, neither Jesus or the people could be completely open.
The Jews spoken of here were clearly the 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.
Many of the people believed in Jesus and were supportive, but "no one spoke openly of Him" for fear of the authorities.
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 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 it says the He went up into the temple. Teaching in that day was often done in the temple and temple courts where 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 couldn't write.
So the question was not that Jesus could read, but that He was able to expound as well as any of the scholars even though He had never formally studied Scripture with an advanced teacher.
VERSES 16 So Jesus answered them, "My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.
The answer Jesus gave them was simple and straight forward, "it's not my teaching, but God's, the One who sent me."
God had taught Jesus, that's what He says.
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.
As we have seen in the previous verses, the people at the Feast of Booths were confused, and Jesus knowing this, says:
If anyone's heart is sincerely right with God and his intent is to do His will, he will be able to discern whether my words are from God, or only from my 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, like Moses, were to be followed.
The bible and history indicates that 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 would make them shine.
The people were already under terrible stress and burdens from the Roman government and harsh way of life. These rulers even intruded on their private lives and placed even more pressure on them by forcing them to abide by the laws they themselves had added. The people should have been able to trust these leaders, but they were not trustworthy.
It happens today, and this is where the false churches come from, and the Jim Jones, and Heavens Gates people. (I don't normally mention names, but I dont' think there is any more damage can be done to these people.) These people seem to get away from the scriptures and in effect, yes, I know the word says that, but this is what God told me. And the people who follow them are at their mercy if they don't know the word themselves.
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 that we are already ahead of the Jim Jones and Heaven's Gates people? So, be careful who you follow, 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?"
You have the Law that Moses and God gave you, but none of you keep it, so what's your reason for wanting to kill me?
To those gathered at the Feast of booths it may have seemed that He asked this question out of the blue, for no apparent reason. But this is the "Searcher of Hearts" the One who knows the heart of man.
He knew that even at this joyous festival of the feast of booths, the Jews were plotting to have Him killed.
By saying "none of you keep the law" He wasn't saying they had neglected the law, but had not grasped the true purpose of the law. Jesus could see beyond their pretense to honor the law, that even though the law condemns murder they were there at the feast of booths plotting to kill Him. (which they eventually did. (in Ex 20:13)
Even under the Jewish Law, what they did to Jesus on the cross was murder).
VERSE 20 The crowd answered, "You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?"
It's possible that some there at the feast of booths did not know of the murderous intentions of the authorities? In any event, the crowd evidently thought Jesus is 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 most believe that in the above Scripture refers 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. 23If 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 in spite of the Law against work, was seen as perfecting the child. Jesus was saying that to heal and make a person whole accomplished the same purpose.
He was encouraging them to reason by asking why, if circumcision, and the slaying of the lamb for Passover, had precedence over the Sabbath, (which they did) then why would His supernatural healing, the restoring of a persons whole life, not also have precedence over the Sabbath as well?
This is another example of how the Jewish teachers of the Law had twisted and stretched it's meaning to the point of confusion. It has become so distorted that the people could not trust themselves to interpret it's meaning without the input of these teachers and leaders.
The Law of Moses had slowly become, their law, and as Jesus had said in verse 19 "Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law."
But Jesus knew and as we have seen, the law they were teaching had been contaminated by man's opinion and sinful desires for 'self fulfillment' to the detriment of both the law of Moses and the people.
And the last verse in our study of the "Feast of Booths:" In verse 24 Jesus simply says:
VERSE 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment."
Jesus was asking them to seek the truth, (truth to me means "the fact of a matter regardless of appearances.")
Jesus said they were judging by appearance and were not searching for the truth. He asks the crowd to render fair and sound judgment, which was considered to be as important in the Jewish community as was sound Jewish teaching.
Did You know?
(The common language in Israel, during Jesus' time, and the language Jesus spoke was not Hebrew, but Aramaic (ar-a-ma-ic)
"The Feast of Booths"
So, next week, we can read (John 7: 25-52) which should be very interesting. The people are debating among themselves as to whether Jesus could actually be the Messiah, (Christ). Jesus deals with the Pharisee's and promises the Holy Sprit, but, as we could guess, is again rejected by the authorities.
"Feast of Booths"
Gospel of John Bible Study
Feast of Booths