Jesus says confusing things. He is hard to comprehend. At the last Passover, about six months earlier, when so many had followed Him outside the city and then left Him because of the talk of eating His body and drinking His blood. They are still confused and pondering. This means they have been thinking for some time. Imagine being bugged all this time with a question like that! You have had this experience with Jesus out in the wilderness and were all fired up and then you left in confusion. Now you are back. Will He be here again? Will you be able to understand Him this time? So many thoughts and questions over the last months as you have contemplated the entire experience. The anticipation and emotions were hot. What a stew pot! No wonder Jesus had to come carefully into this kind of setting.
Yet when He comes, while not arriving with a retinue and not making a big entry, He does not stay in the background. He is there, once again, to stir the stew, to raise the stakes, to speak the truth for those who will choose to believe, to listen.
Jesus picks His timing. It is the last day of the feast of booths. It is the great day of the feast. It is the day the lights were set ablaze in the temple to remember the days when the presence of The Lord filled the temple. And then He enters.
“If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scripture said, ‘from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water‘” Jesus quotes Isaiah. Jesus speaks of a continuing coming to Him. My relationship is an ongoing thing, not a one time event. He teaches of the Holy Spirit, explains John. To believe, to come to Jesus is to drink and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Last time he spoke of being eaten. His flesh as true food and His blood as true drink. Now He speaks of thirst and drink. The time that has passed has deepened their thirst for truth.
Once again the effect of the teaching of Jesus is that the mob is divided.
- Truth draws.
- Truth divides.
- Truth confuses.
- Truth accepted, fills.
- Truth sets our hearts ablaze.
- Truth cannot be arrested.
It’s a process. It takes time.
- Am I patient with myself?
- With others?
- Am I willing to give the time to waiting?
- Do I allow myself and others the think and processing time that is needed?
- Do I thirst ?
- Do I come to Him for my true food and my true drink?
Jesus continued to confront and confound the multitudes who had come from all over the area and from many countries for the Passover. The discussions flew; point and counterpoint. There was no printed word for reference or research. They only had their teachers and each other. They were expecting a Messiah under certain circumstances, Bethlehem for one. They knew Jesus was from Galilee. People did not move from town to town then like now. They knew of the massacre of babies in Bethlehem but did not know His family had escaped nor of His time in Egypt. So they could not put what they thought they knew about the facts of Jesus’ ancestry together with their expectations of a Messiah. Thus, to counter that, they had the inner tug of recognition in every cell of their being as they responded to hearing the power and authority of His speaking. Their minds said He should be arrested, yet their bodies could not do so. The drawing power is irresistible and the choice to believe must be made over ones own understanding. Many made that choice. The arresting officers could not do their job. Not because of mob dangers, but because their own selves were responding to the power of truth emanating from Jesus as He spoke. Wow!
That is so encouraging. Be strong and courageous. Gods’ will and power cannot be circumvented. His will is being done. In the midst of the resistance from worldly authority, people believed and the power of man’s desires are thwarted by the power of God. Gods’ timing is Perfect and shall happen according to His will.
- Am I in His will?
- Do I fear persecution?
- Do I trust in the power of His truth?
Therefore, if I am in His perfect will, doing as He has called me to do, I can be strong and courageous to face whatever worldly power may seek to threaten me with bodily harm, confident that my bodily end shall come in His perfect time, His perfect place and in His perfect will for His perfect glory!
After responding to the questions of authority, John chooses to tell us of this teaching. He tells us how Jesus conducted Himself under the challenge to His authority. Jesus responds by a challenge to their authority. He goes into details with specifics. The law was given under Moses, but they are not keeping the law. What is the law in question? Sabbath rules and regulations. He also points out to them their own murderous intent, which shocks them, He reveals their own heart to them plainly and it brings them up short.
The Sabbath is for circumcision. It is a healing of the heart, as Jesus healed on the Sabbath, it was not law-breaking but law-fulfilling.
Jesus basic teaching is about discernment and judging. “Don’t judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”
- Do I search for the heart issue or am I swayed by the emotional onslaught? Look deeper.
- What are the “mob” issues today?
- What riles us up as a culture?
- What does the media stir up over?
- What judgments get passed by the media leaders and culture shapers?
- What issues does Jesus call me to see and witness and challenge me about today?
What a context! Everyone is afraid of the religious authorities. Everyone wants to talk about Jesus but they are very careful with who they discuss Him. The society, the culture is not open and it is not safe – just as it is in many places today. Taboo. Politically incorrect. Physically dangerous. Potential martyrdom. It depends on where you live.
Yet half way through the festival, into this boiling caldron of emotion, enters Jesus. The feast of booths, or tabernacles, a feast that celebrates water and light and lasts seven days.
How does Jesus respond to this kind of mob of discordant confusion and argumentative emotions? He brings them out of the hidden conversations and addresses it publicly. To teach them truth. Some want to hear, others want to argue. Jesus ignored those who were haters and condemners and taught to the teachable in the midst of the mob. Some were scoffers. They could not understand the voice of authority he clearly spoke with, so they threw darts of doubt at it. They would not have bothered with an attack of this nature if His words were not full of genuine authority and power. How does the enemy attack truth? By casting doubt. Like fly fishing. Don’t bite at the doubt. Think about how true His words of power had to be so that they provoked such attack. Be encouraged in the truth.
Also, Jesus countered their attack by not falling to the temptation to claim personal power and authority but to give the glory to God the Father. This temptation of pride was in the scoffers attack as well.
- Jesus was willing to do the work of His Father. He was willing. We must be wiling and seek to discern if what we are doing is from God or not. Am I seeking personal glory?
- Is there unrighteousness in my motives and words?
- Jesus is from God, His words are truth and glorify the name of His Father. How are my words these days?
I like to read in various translations and pick up different nuances that way. A key verse that strikes me today is verse 17. “If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of Father whether I speak from myself.” I notice that the first part of that statement, the subject of the sentence is “any man”. The prerequisite to knowing the source of the teaching, discerning if it is of God or of self, is the willingness to obey- to “do His will”.
Well, I stuck my foot in it yesterday. It happened at the end of a long and tiring day, when I had no dinner and no plan except go do this social thing. Out of my mouth tumbled a people pleasing response that did not honor my Lord. See how easy it is to succumb to the worlds temptation? I hope I find that person today so I can correct my response.
Jesus is so much stronger than I. He had the pressure not only of the world directly clamoring for Him, but he also had His family. How did He deal with family pressure and expectations? Families with mixed motives (like mine last night), He simply said to them to go without Him. At first read, I thought He lied. Because I implied that He said He would not go. But that is not what He said. He said, “you go without me. Now is not the right time.” So what was wrong with the timing? It involved His family. Ouch. But I guess the truth is, families can carry baggage of their own, yet it is not to get in the way of what God has planned. Jesus had to go without His brothers. He knew that there were some seeking to kill Him even now. Perhaps it was also protection for His brothers. It must have been awkward for the brothers when Jesus did show up and they heard about it. I wonder how they took it? I expect some folk had asked them about their brother along the way. Did they answer “He is not coming this year” or did they say “we left without Him and we don’t know when He is coming” or something else?
- Do I get in God’s way sometime by my own enthusiasm on something?
For sure. Or even my own lack of enthusiasm as in last night. Mixed motives leads to bad timing, and bad timing is going it alone. I can’t go under my own power. I need food. I need rest. I need balance. I need proper perspective. Yesterday was also the day I missed spending deeper time in His Word. Seems kind of obvious now as I sit here this morning.
My previous observation on this section notes that we can do the wrong thing at any time. Sin is always ready and eager to take action. All that family urging can be dangerous. Know when to step back and let the crowd go. It’s OK to fly solo, stay behind sometimes. Wait for His timing.
How younger siblings will talk! They encouraged Jesus the way family will do. From a worldly perspective which is all they have. Jesus- show yourself! Let everyone see the wonders you do! It’s great to see that Jesus was close to His siblings. Wow. That must have been hard for them. Imagine having Jesus for your older brother!
Yet Jesus did not fall to this lovingly intended temptation of pride. He sent them off to do what every good Jew would do, then He chose to follow by Himself. Set apart. To worship and honor His Father.
Jesus understood the importance of timing. He would not, could not, be pushed.
- Is there a plan I know God has for me?
- For something to happen – even if I am not sure what and certainly not sure of the when?
I choose today to trust God for His perfect timing on His perfect plans. In the mean time, I shall honor Him in all I do. Today Lord, this day is for YOU!