But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name.John 20:31
I don’t know about you, but there’s a gracious plenty on my calendar. I have plans for my days, weeks, months, and even years. But do I always accomplish the goals I set? In truth, rarely. Quite often things happen that are beyond my control. You can say the same, can’t you? We make plans, then life happens. It’s good to have goals, as long as we realize that we’re not in control of our lives. There was one man, however, who was in complete control of His life. He had one goal, and He accomplished it right on schedule. That Man was Jesus.
Always on Schedule (vv. 1-10).
The events of John 7 occurred about seven months after those of John 6. John 6 was the climax of Christ’s public ministry. During the seven months between the chapters, He spent most of His time training the twelve. The other gospels fill in the blanks.
Now it was time for the Feast of Tabernacles, one of the three main feasts that the Jews observed in Jerusalem. Jesus had never missed a feast, and the people expected to see Him at this one as well. But things had changed: now the religious leaders wanted Him dead. Would Jesus come? And if so, would He be walking into a trap?
His brothers asked Him if He were going to attend the feast, for they hoped to see more of His miracles. They did not yet believe on Him, but I think perhaps they wanted to. They would believe on Him after the resurrection, but at this point their hearts were still seeking the truth.
Jesus sent them on ahead, and then took a shortcut through Samaria to reach the feast without being noticed, for it was not yet time to present Himself as their Messiah.
Who Is He (vv. 11-30)?
Jerusalem was filled with commotion about Jesus. If you had seen Him on the street, He would’ve looked like any other man because His deity was concealed. But He made claims that no one else could. Jesus claimed that:
- He came down from heaven (Jn 3:13; 6:33, 38, 50-51, 58).
- He is the only source of everlasting life (Jn 3:16, 36; 4:14; 5:24; 6:27, 40, 47; 12:50).
- He is the only way to God (Jn 14:6).
- He is worthy to receive worship (Jn 9:38).
- He is equal with God (Jn 5:18; Phil. 2:6).
- He has power to give life and raise the dead, including Himself (Jn. 5:26; 6:33, 39-40; 10:17; 17:2).
- He is the main subject of the Old Testament writers (Lu. 4:21; Jn 5:46).
- He is the supreme Judge (Jn 5:30; 8:16, 26).
- He is without sin (Jn 8:46).
- He holds all authority in heaven and earth (Mt 7:29; 21:23-24; 28:18; Jn. 5:27; 17:2).
- He has power and authority to forgive sin (Mt. 9:6; Mr. 2:10; 5:24).
- He can answer prayer (Mt. 21:22).
- He is greater than the temple (Mt. 12:16), Jonah (Mt. 12:41), Solomon (Mt. 12:42), Jacob (Jn. 4:12), and Abraham (Jn. 8:53).
- He was alive before Abraham was born (Jn. 8:58).
- He is Christ the Messiah (Mr. 8:29; Lu. 9:20).
The Great Warning (vv. 33-36).
More and more people wanted Jesus dead—well, at least among the religious ones. Why? Because He was turning their world upside down. For generations they had held their traditions in higher esteem than the Law itself, and Jesus had eroded this way of thinking to show them that they could not keep the Law. And He spoke with authority. They weren’t used to this. Other teachers would quote the rabbis, but Jesus quoted only the Scriptures. And what’s more, He claimed to be the Author of the Scriptures.
Now Jesus tells them, perhaps sadly, “Pretty soon I’ll be out of your hair. You’ll look for Me, but you won’t find Me,” then added, “and where I’m going, you cannot come.” Why was He sad? Not because He was going away, but because He wanted them—all of them—to be there with Him in heaven, and yet He knew that most of them would never believe the truth.
Again they whispered among themselves, “Where is He going? Why can’t we follow Him?” They thought perhaps He was planning to go to the Jews that were dispersed among the Gentiles. If so, He was right, for they wouldn’t dare soil their feet with pagan dust. But that’s not what He meant at all.
Isaiah spoke of this day hundreds of years earlier, when he said,
Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near.Isaiah 55:6
Now Jesus is saying, “Here I am, but I won’t be here much longer.”
After death, there are only two choices: Either you go to heaven to be with Jesus forever, or you go to hell to forever be without Him. Hell is real, folks. And it’s not a party.
- truth discovered too late
- suffering for sin
- eternal regret
Hell is not where Christ is forgotten; it is where He is unavailable.
The Great Invitation (vv. 37-39).
How do I know Jesus wanted everyone in heaven with Him? Because right on the heels of His warning, He invited them all to receive His gift of salvation. He was still speaking to the same crowd. In fact, Jesus likely invited people every day to receive salvation, for it was His purpose to provide redemption from sin for everyone.
We’ve now come to the last day of the feast. On this day, the people were to bring branches and create a booth, representing the time they spent wandering and living in tents, without a permanent home. The high priest would fill a pitcher with water from the Pool of Siloam and pour it out on the altar while the people recited Isaiah chapter 12.
Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.Isaiah 12:3
The whole ceremony is symbolic of salvation. They would then sing the Hallel found in Psalms 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, and 118.
Divided Response (vv. 5, 11-13, 20-27, 31-32, 40-53).
Confusion — The response to Jesus was varied. Most judged Him to be insane, a blasphemer, or a false teacher. They wondered why the rulers didn’t stop Him. They thought they knew Jesus, the carpenter’s son from Nazareth in Galilee. But to know the common stories about Jesus is to know nothing about Him at all. They believed that no prophet ever came from Galilee. Evidently revisionist history is not a new thing. If the people had just studied their history instead of letting others tell them what to believe, they would have realized that Jonah, Nahum, and Hosea all came from Galilee. But even that misses the point. The people had only to examine the public records at the temple to know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The facts were available, but they did not want to believe them. (Sound familiar?)
Rejection — The rulers wanted to seize Him, but didn’t. Why not? Humanly speaking, Jesus was very powerful, very strong, and very influential. But ultimately they were paralyzed supernaturally because His time was not yet come.
Whether you reject Christ out of hatred or confusion, the result is the same. “Where I go, you cannot come.”
Acceptance — Some believed He was the Christ. Among the early believers were John the Baptist, Andrew, Philip, Nicodemus, the Samaritans, and Peter. And let’s not forget the women. His mother believed, as did Elisabeth, Mary Magdalene, and the sisters Mary and Martha. Unnamed people who were present at the feast also believed. The division among them proved the genuineness of their faith. They were willing to stand for their faith.
Admiring Jesus isn’t enough. Dear Reader, what will you do with His invitation?
This week’s reading:
NOTE: I use the term “week” rather loosely here. Due to my schedule, I’ve come to find out that I cannot write every week. But I’ll write as often as I can, for this message is important. Please comment below with your own thoughts on this subject. I would love to know where you stand in your relationship with Christ, and if what I have written has helped you in any way. Until next time, may God richly bless you!
This week’s memory verse
Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.John 8:11b
Photo taken at Princess Beach in Destin, Florida, 2019
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