Jesus’ Life and Ministry
At the Festival of Tabernacles
JESUS has become famous during the nearly three years since his baptism. Many thousands have seen his miracles, and reports about his activities have spread throughout the country. Now, as the people gather for the Festival of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, they look for him there. “Where is that man?” they want to know.
Jesus has become a subject of controversy. “He is a good man,” some say. “He is not, but he misleads the crowd,” others assert. There is a lot of subdued talk of this sort during the opening days of the festival. Yet no one has the courage to speak out publicly in Jesus’ behalf. This is because the people fear reprisal from the Jewish leaders.
When the festival is half over, Jesus arrives. He goes up to the temple, where the people are amazed at his marvelous teaching ability. Since Jesus never attended the rabbinical schools, the Jews fall to wondering: “How does this man have a knowledge of letters, when he has not studied at the schools?”
“What I teach is not mine,” Jesus explains, “but belongs to him that sent me. If anyone desires to do His will, he will know concerning the teaching whether it is from God or I speak of my own originality.” Jesus’ teaching holds closely to God’s law. Thus, it should be obvious that he is seeking God’s glory, not his own. “Moses gave you the Law, did he not?” Jesus asks. And by way of rebuke, he went on to say: “Not one of you obeys the Law.”
“Why are you seeking to kill me?” Jesus then asks.
The crowd, probably visitors to the festival, is unaware of such efforts. They consider it inconceivable that anyone would want to kill such a wonderful teacher. So they believe that something must be wrong with Jesus for him to think this. “You have a demon,” they say. “Who is seeking to kill you?”
The Jewish leaders want Jesus killed, even though the crowd may not realize it. When Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath a year and a half before, the leaders tried to kill him. So Jesus now points up their unreasonableness by asking them: “If a man receives circumcision on a sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you violently angry at me because I made a man completely sound in health on a sabbath? Stop judging from the outward appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
Inhabitants of Jerusalem, who are aware of the situation, now say: “This is the man they are seeking to kill, is it not? And yet, see! he is speaking in public, and they say nothing to him. The rulers have not come to know for a certainty that this is the Christ, have they?” These residents of Jerusalem explain why they do not believe that Jesus is the Christ: “We know where this man is from; yet when the Christ comes, no one is to know where he is from.”
Jesus answers: “You both know me and know where I am from. Also, I have not come of my own initiative, but he that sent me is real, and you do not know him. I know him, because I am a representative from him, and that One sent me forth.” At this they try to lay hold on him, perhaps to put him in prison or to have him killed. Yet they do not succeed because it is not time for Jesus to die.
Still, many put faith in Jesus, as indeed they should. Why, he has walked on water, calmed the winds, quieted stormy seas, miraculously fed thousands on a few loaves and fishes, cured the sick, made the lame walk, opened the eyes of the blind, cured lepers, and even raised the dead. So they ask: “When the Christ arrives, he will not perform more signs than this man has performed, will he?”
When the Pharisees hear the crowd murmuring these things, they and the chief priests send out officers to arrest Jesus. John 7:11-32.
◆ When does Jesus arrive at the festival, and what talk is there about him?
◆ Why may it be that some say Jesus has a demon?
◆ What view of Jesus do inhabitants of Jerusalem have?
◆ Why do many put faith in Jesus?