Feasting in Tents
When chapter 7 of John opens, we find that it is time for another Jewish festival: the Feast of Booths. This particular feast was a fun time for the Jews. They lived in tents remembering the time when the Israelites lived in the wilderness and dwelt in tents. The Feast of Booths is a time for celebration and thanksgiving for God’s provision. Little did they know that they had something even better to celebrate and be grateful for living among them.
As everyone gets ready for the Feast, we see that Jesus’s household is also getting ready to go to the Feast in Jerusalem. And then Jesus’s brothers make a statement in verse 3 and 4 that breaks my heart because of what it reveals about His own kin.
“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'” (John 7:3-4 ESV).
The next verse is the heart-breaker:
“For not even his brothers believed in him” (John 7:5 ESV).
Not even His own brothers. His family. Those He had grown up with. Not even them.
To see that not even His own brothers believed Him implies that He really did have an unremarkable childhood. Nothing about Him pre-ministry (aside from His birth) even hinted that He was anything special, nevermind the Savior of mankind.
“For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2 ESV).
Jesus’s brothers, like many others, wanted Him to “prove” who He was with great signs. The problem with “proving it” is that it negates faith. It’s easy to believe in something when you have the proof in front of you. In many of the stories of healing and such in John you can see that when Jesus chooses to do a sign, the faith has to come first, not the other way around.
Matthew Henry, a bible commentator, had this to say about Jesus’s family:
“It was an honor to be the kindred of Christ, by no saving honor; they that hear His word and keep it are the kindred He values.”
You would think that of all people, His own family should have believed in Him (especially considering all the events surrounding His birth…did they forget?). Just being related to Christ did not mean much in the Kingdom of God. It was faith that mattered and obedience driven by that faith.
I think what is interesting about Christ’s brothers is that where their fault lay is not in what they thought they knew about Christ, but in what they didn’t know about Him. Growing up with Him, they thought they knew all there was to know about Jesus, but they allowed their familiarity with Him to trip them up, namely to mask His divinity with His humanity. Do we often do that with God’s Word? Have we too become too familiar with God or His Word that we think we know all there is to know? What vast wealth of knowledge do we miss with this attitude? Are we also missing our Savior altogether?
Do we often do that with God’s Word? Have we too become too familiar with God or His Word that we think we know all there is to know? What vast wealth of knowledge do we miss with this attitude? Are we also missing our Savior altogether? Something to think about. We should never allow our familiarity with God blind us to what He reveals to us day by day.
Jesus does eventually go up to Judea for the Festival (however, He goes in secret, the opposite of what His brothers urged Him to do). Even though Jesus refused to make a spectacle of Himself, He could not cease to be noticeably extraordinary, in spite of His ordinary childhood.
“The Jews therefore marveled…” (John 7:15 ESV)
Christ doesn’t seek to glorify Himself, but in His act of glorifying His Father, the Father glorifies Him.
Can This be the Christ?
Just like Jesus’s brother’s these Jews at the festival allow what they think they “know” get in the way of really knowing the Messiah.
“But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from” (John 7:27 ESV).
On the last day of the Feast, Jesus makes a promise:
“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”.’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given,because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:37-39 ESV)
Jesus promises the coming of the Holy Spirit who fills our hearts with “living water” that continues to quench our thirst. Thank God for that precious gift!
How does this contrast with Matthew 15:18-19?
“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”
Obviously, we want a heart filled with the Holy Spirit!
After all this at the feast, the people are once again divided. Some believed in Him. Some want to arrest Him. And the Pharisees make an interesting statement:
“Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee” (John 7:52 ESV)
Not only are they allowing what the “know” trip them up, but interestingly enough, this statement is not exactly true. Both Jonah (2 Kings 14:25) and Nahum (Nahum 1:1) and possibly Elijah (one of Israel’s most celebrated prophets) were all from Galilee. It’s possible they meant no “current” prophet comes from Galilee or maybe they were not expecting one from come from Galilee or maybe they simply allowed their current prejudices towards Galilee to cloud their memories. Either way, they were very proud in their “knowledge” forgetting that there is always more to learn. The day we stop learning at the feet of the Messiah is the day we lose ourselves.