Study Notes

John 7:1-13

Although we're only in chapter 7 of John's 21-chapter book, we are already to the last six months of Jesus' earthly ministry. John has chosen to focus the majority of his gospel on these last six months.

7:1 Unwilling

Remember when we learned about Samaria, that you could basically divide Israel into three parts - Galilee to the north, Samaria in the center, and Judea in the south.

The Jews were seeking to kill Jesus because in He was breaking their interpretation of the Sabbath Laws, and making Himself equal with God. So Jesus was staying out of Judea - He was concentrating on ministering around Galilee, and even went into Samaria. But He stayed out of Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him.

It comes to mind that Jesus has instructed us in a perfect balance between the idea of life and death. Remember that He has taught us,

Luke 12:4 "And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.

Jesus didn't fear death, but He also didn't pursue it. We are not to fear death, but neither are we to seek it. Remember the apostle Paul's dilemma,

Phil. 1:20-25 ...Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if {I am} to live {on} in the flesh, this {will mean} fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both {directions,} having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for {that} is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. And convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith,

Paul certainly did not fear death, but he would not seek it either. When our time comes, let us greet death with open arms, knowing that we will be going to be with the Lord. But let us not put God to the test by placing ourselves in deadly circumstances and situations.

7:2 The Feast of Booths

We first learn about the Feast of Booths in the 23rd chapter of Leviticus. God commanded that there be a week-long observance beginning on the 15th day of the 7th month. This year, that equates to October 5th at sundown. He said,

Lev. 23:40 'Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.

They were to make shelters, lean-to's, covered with the branches they'd collected. And He told them,

Lev. 23:42-43 'You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.'"

So this was to be an annual reminder of God's deliverance of the Israelites out of Egypt and into the wilderness, when they lived in tents for 40 years.

This feast, here called the feast of Booths, was also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of the Ingathering. It was one of three feasts that required the attendance of all able-bodied Jewish men. In Exodus 23, God commanded,

Exod. 23:17 "Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD."

So, although Jesus was trying to avoid that area, the command of God was that He go up to Jerusalem for the feast.

7:3-5 Not Even His Brothers

We know from Scripture who Jesus' brothers were. After the miraculous virgin birth, Mary and Joseph had other children. In Nazareth, the people asked incredulously,

Mark 6:2-3 ..."Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?" And they took offense at Him.

Jesus' brothers had grown up with Him. They surely must have noticed that He never sinned. He never lied to get them in trouble, never snuck out after curfew, never stole their stuff. Plus, they'd seen His incredible works. But they still don't believe in Him. This was prophesied in the great messianic Psalm 69,

Ps. 69:7-8 Because for Thy sake I have borne reproach; Dishonor has covered my face. I have become estranged from my brothers, And an alien to my mother's sons.

It won't be until after the resurrection that they believe in Him. And once they believe, they will become leaders in the church. Remember when Paul told the Galatians of his trip to Jerusalem, he said,

Gal. 1:19 ...I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord's brother.

Another brother was named Judas, or Jude. The epistle of Jude was written by...

Jude 1 Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James...

So it would seem that he, too, was a half-brother of Jesus. Paul says, in 1Corinthians 9,

1Cor. 9:5 Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?

This shows us that the brothers became very active in their faith, even to the point of being traveling evangelists and missionaries.

A Silent Witness?

So Jesus' brothers saw Him living a sinless life, but didn't believe until they were witness to the resurrection. What does that say to us? It says that the Christian concept of simply being a "silent witness" is unbiblical. Somewhere along the lines, someone decided that you didn't have to say anything to preach the gospel. That if you were just a smiley, friendly, happy person, then people would get saved by watching you. Well, I hate to break the news to you, but there's always going to be some unsaved person that's smilier, friendlier, and happier than you. Jesus never gave the great commission as "Go into all the world and be friendly to all creation."

Mark 16:15 ...He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Paul never said, "I presumed to do nothing among you but smile and be happy." No, he said,

1Cor. 2:2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

Jesus friendly, happy, good-natured life didn't get His brothers saved. It was His crucifixion. John Courson says, "You can wave to your neighbor for twenty years and wave him right into hell." If you're not preaching the gospel, they're not hearing the gospel.

And of course, this doesn't discount the fact that we must ALSO consider our silent witness. If we're verbally witnessing of Christ, but in life are living like the world, we'll negate the message.

7:6-9 Its Deeds Are Evil

Jesus had chosen not to go to the feast with His brothers, or to show up to the festival publicly. His brothers could go anytime they wanted - they weren't in any danger. The Jewish leadership didn't have it out for them like they did for Jesus.

But if Jesus was such a good guy, why did, and does, the world really hate Jesus? He said,

John 7:7 "...It hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil."

Jesus testified of the world's wickedness. He is the Light of the world who exposes the darkness. He said in John 3,

John 3:19-21 "And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."

The light of Jesus exposes the darkness of the world. Are you aligned with Jesus on this point? Do you call evil, "evil" and good, "good?"

Isa. 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Be warned, calling evil, "evil" is a sure-fire way to make you unpopular. When you dare to expose the fruitless deeds of darkness, there will be plenty of people that hate you for it.

But Matthew Henry writes, "It is better to incur the world's hatred, by testifying against its wickedness, than gain its goodwill by going down the stream with it." So when you do make a stand for righteousness, you'll be in good company! When the Galatians got upset with Paul, he asked,

Gal. 4:16 Have I therefore become your enemy by telling you the truth?

If you refuse to compromise the truth of God so that people can feel good about their sin, you'll make some enemies. But you'll also provoke others to righteous living before God.

7:10-11 Where Is He?

Although He was being obedient to the law of God which commanded that He show up at the feast, Jesus took the low road with a low profile.

But the Jews knew He had to be there. Though they outwardly hated Him, they knew in their hearts that He was righteous and would obey the Law of God that commanded He be there. So they're looking around, saying, "Where is He?"

You might get flack from folks at school or work for living righteously. They might hate you and come down on you for your faith, but inwardly, they know in their hearts that you're doing right. And you might spend ten years being put down for your Christianity, but one day, when someone has a spiritual crisis, who are they going to turn to? You, because you've faithfully endured and shown by living righteously that you know Jesus Christ personally. That's why Peter tells us to live righteously and be prepared,

1Pet. 3:14-16 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, {you are} blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always {being} ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

How glorious it is when an unbeliever says, "Hey, Christian. Tell me about this Jesus guy."

7:12 Who Is Jesus?

Jesus was the talk of the town - "Who is this guy?" Some were saying, "He's a good man." Others were saying "He's leading people astray."

The same discussion still takes place every day. "Jesus was a good moral teacher, but He isn't God." "Jesus was a prophet, but He wasn't the Messiah." "Jesus was just one of many religious leaders, but He's not the only way to heaven."

Who is Jesus? First, we must examine who He Himself claimed to be...

John 8:24 "...Unless you believe that I am, you shall die in your sins."

John 14:6 ..."I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.

John 6:40 "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."

John 3:36 "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

Now, because He claimed to be God, because He claimed to be the only way anyone could make it to heaven, we can absolutely conclude that He is one of three things: He is either Lord, lunatic, or liar.

You see, when Jesus claimed to be God and the only way of salvation, He either knew it was true, was nutty enough to believe it was true, or knew it wasn't true. So you must decide who you believe Jesus is. He never left room for us to say, "He's a good moral teacher, one of many religious leaders, possibly even a prophet." We must absolutely believe that He was lying through His teeth when He made these claims, that He was delusionally psychopathic when He made these claims, or that they are absolutely true.

7:13 Speaking Openly

In spite of their strong feelings about who Jesus was, no one would talk of Him openly and publicly, because they were afraid of the Jews. Why? John tells us that,

John 9:22 ...the Jews had already agreed, that if anyone should confess Him to be Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

Put out of the synagogue! That was the religious and social center of a Jew's life. If anyone were removed from the synagogue, it would mean social and financial devastation. Maybe that's the reason you don't speak openly about Jesus to people at work or school. You don't want to be ostracized. You don't want to be uncool. You don't want to lose that client or that job. But Jesus said,

Mark 8:35-38 "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."

Is your financial and social status so important to you so as to be ashamed of Jesus Christ? May it never be.

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