Although this chapter begins with the note that Jesus did not want to walk in Judea because the Jews sought to kill Him, the setting for the greater part of the chapter is in Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles. When Jesus’ brothers have gone up to the feast, Jesus also goes up. He teaches in the temple during the feast, and opinions about Him are sharply divided.
Did You Know...?
1 The Feast of Tabernacles (7:2) was one of three annual feasts in which all Israelite males were required to participate (Deut 16:16, 17). The feast was associated with the harvest at the end of the year (Ex 34:22). It lasted for one week, starting on the fifteenth of the seventh month (mid-October). It was a feast of rejoicing, and the people must live in booths for the entire week (Lev 23:40–42; Deut 16:14). The purpose of the feast was to teach future generations that the Lord made the children of Israel dwell in booths when He brought them out of the land of Egypt (Lev 23:43).
Why did the Jews seek to kill Jesus?
What were the brothers of Jesus urging Him to do?
How did their words show their disbelief?Hide Answer
Their words were sarcastic. They mistakenly thought that Jesus was seeking to be well known by performing all the works He had been doing. Seeing that Jesus chose to remain in Galilee, they challenged Him to make Himself known to a potentially greater audience in Jerusalem.
Explain Jesus’ response concerning “His time.”Hide Answer
Jesus would not make any decision on His own without submitting to the timing and arrangement of His Father. He would not go up to Jerusalem just to meet the challenge of His unbelieving brothers. God’s time had not fully come for Jesus to be delivered to those who were plotting for His life.
What do Jesus words say about the different principles believers and unbelievers operate by?Hide Answer
The time of unbelievers “is always ready” in the sense that they do as they wish without any respect for God’s will or guidance. The world also cannot hate them because they are in complete conformity with the sinful world. On the contrary, believers do not conduct their lives as they wish, but always seek the Lord’s will (Eph 5:17) and strive to carry out His will (
2 Cor 5:9; cf. 1 Cor 6:19, 20).
In what ways are believers of Christ today also hated by the world?
Why did Jesus go up to the feast, when He had just told His brothers that His time had not yet fully come?Hide Answer
According to verse 10, Jesus went up to the feast, not openly, but in secret. With this in mind, we may interpret Jesus’ words in verse 8 as indicating that He would not go up to the feast in the open, i.e., in a way to prove His worth to the world according to His brothers’ challenge. The time would eventually come when He would complete all His works before the people, leading up to His death. But that time foreordained by God had not yet come, and so He would not reveal Himself in Jerusalem in such a manner at this juncture. It was in this sense that Jesus said He was not going up to this feast (the word “yet” in verse 8, not found in some of the more reliable manuscripts, was probably the copyist’s addition in an attempt to resolve the apparent inconsistency with verse 10).
What did the Jews’ question in verse 15 say about them?Hide Answer
Rather than pay attention to the message of Jesus’ teaching, they only cared about His credentials. The fact that they marveled at Jesus’ abilities tells us that outward performance was important to them. If the “Jews” here refers to the religious leaders, they probably also felt threatened that someone who had not been trained in the rabbinical school like them was able to teach with such power.
What did Jesus say here about Him and the One who sent Him?Hide Answer
As someone who was sent on a mission, Jesus was faithful to the One who sent Him. He only taught according to what His Father had willed for Him to speak. He also only sought the glory of His Father, not His own glory. Because of His complete submission to and dependence on His Father in both the content of His teaching and in His motivation, His teachings were trustworthy.
How can we apply Jesus’ words about discerning God’s words versus man’s words?Hide Answer
In verse 17, the Lord gives us a crucial principle in discerning whether a teaching is the word of God. The condition for knowing whether a teaching is from God is that we ourselves resolve to do the Heavenly Father’s will. This pure and sincere desire to obey God enables us to know the voice of God when we hear it (cf. Jn 10:1–5). Therefore, having the heart to obey God is the surest way to understanding the will of God.
What did Jesus teach about keeping the law?Hide Answer
1. In verse 19, the Lord Jesus exposes the irony of those who claimed to be heirs of the law but do not practice the law. Those who accused and persecuted Jesus seemed to be zealous for God, but their murderous intent shows that God’s law was not truly in them. God cares much more about how we live by His commandments than about how much we claim to know His law. 2. From verses 22 and 23, we learn that if a person ignores God’s intent behind His laws, he may misapply God’s laws. For example, God gave the Sabbath commandment to man for his good. So when Jesus made a man completely well, it was in agreement with the spirit of the law of the Sabbath (cf. Mt 12:11, 12). The Jews, who considered it acceptable to circumcise a child on the Sabbath so that the law of circumcision would not be broken, neglected God’s law of love and condemned Jesus’ healing as a violation of the law. Therefore, while it is important for us to observe every detail of God’s law, it is also important to know the purpose and spirit of God’s law so that we do not act in ignorance against God’s intent.
What did He teach about judging?Hide Answer
The Lord teaches us not to judge according to appearance, but to judge with righteous judgment. This reinforces the need for us to understand the heart of God and live by God’s will. Only if we always make it our goal to conform to God’s righteousness can we make a righteous judgment. That means we discern from God’s perspective, not man’s perspective. Man looks at appearance and judges based on appearance, but God looks at the heart (
1 Sam 16:7). Judging things by external criteria may earn us respect or popularity, but only if we judge them from a heart that is true to God can we please God. The Jews condemned Jesus for healing the man on the Sabbath. Their zeal helped boost their position as religious authorities, but they did not have the heart of God to show the slightest concern for the sick man. Their judgment about Jesus, therefore, was based on outward appearance, not on God’s righteousness.