Rev. Haak is pastor of Bethel Protestant Reformed Church in Itasca, Illinois.
After the rejection in Caper-naum, the Lord retired from the multitudes and went about Galilee in an almost secretive way, spending time instructing His disciples concerning His coming sufferings (see Mark 7-9). This was frustrating to His brethren, who believed that it was in His best interest to draw attention to Himself and His mighty works. They did not at that time believe in Him as the Messiah sent down from God. Instead, they saw Him in an earthly and material sense as one having great potential for advance and honor in this life. To them the Feast of the Tabernacles was an excellent opportunity for Him to show Himself in Jerusalem and gain popularity. They urged Him to go down and make Himself known openly.
The Feast of Tabernacles lasted seven days (see Lev. 23:33, 34; Num. 29). The children of Israel were to dwell in “booths” (tents made out of palm branches) in remembrance of their deliverance from Egypt. Also associated with this feast was thanksgiving for the completed fall harvest. Various activities reminding Israel of their life in the wilderness would be performed in the temple throughout the week — for example, pouring out water from the pool of Siloam in remembrance of the water which flowed from the rock.
Our Lord would have nothing to do with an open and dramatic campaign to gain earthly popularity. Ever before His mind was the Father’s divine program for His sufferings. Jesus knew that the attitude of the world towards Him as the Messiah could never be one of acceptance and honor, but one of hatred because He was the one who revealed their words as evil. He waited for His brethren to go up to the feast and then, approximately in midweek, followed “as it were in secret.”
There is great anticipation among the people over whether or not He will appear at the feast. The division among the people over Him produces a hushed debate over whether He is a deceiver or a true man of God. The hatred of the religious leaders looms over the scene as none feels free to express himself openly concerning Him. Into this scene the Lord arrives and enters the temple to teach the people.
Immediately, and with some amazement over Jesus’ boldness to engage in public teaching, the Jews seek to discredit His teaching. “How can an uneducated man teach anything of worth? Being unlearned Himself, all that He teaches must be wrong!”
In response the Lord penetrates to the heart of the matter that He has come to address and which is essential to knowing Him as the Son of God, the Messiah. “I am sent from God! My doctrine is not mine but His that sent me!” What we must see unfolding before us in the passage is that the Lord insists that it is both known and manifested that He is uniquely sent of God as the One with Him from the beginning (see Prov. 8:22ff.; Heb. 3:1-3). Further, if one is truly desirous to obey the will of God as expressed in the Scriptures, one will know the certainty of both the doctrine and identity of Jesus Christ. But the Jews who rejected the revelation through Moses also rejected the revelation through the Son and sought to kill Him.
This they vehemently deny. “Who seeks to kill thee?” The Lord corrects this temporary lapse of memory by reminding them of the events of His last visit to Judea. When He had healed on the Sabbath day (John 5:1-18) they had indeed sought to kill Him, as was also public knowledge among the people. The people remember this, yet they still stumble over His identity as the One sent of God. “Do we not know His origins? Is not the Christ One who will mysteriously come down from heaven?”
This is the moment for the Son to make a clear proclamation of the truth: “I am not come of myself. He hath sent me!” This Jesus cries in the temple; for it is the very heart of the gospel, namely, the call to believe the record that God gave of His Son! (See I John 5:9, 10, 20.) This call results in a twofold fruit: some sought to lay hands on Him … other believed on Him.
1.Jesus refuses to go up to the feast openly (vv. 1-10).
2.The debate among the people at the feast, over whether Jesus is a deceiver or not (vv. 11-13).
3.The Jews’ accusation that the Lord’s teaching is false, and the Lord’s response that He and His doctrine come down from God (vv. 14-24).
4.The division among the people on the question of His true identity (vv. 25-27).
5.Jesus’ proclamation that He is sent of the Father as His unique and only Son (vv. 28, 29).
6.The twofold response to the Lord’s proclamation (vv. 30, 31).
1.What do you know about the Feast of Tabernacles? Old Testament references? What is the significance of Jesus’ going up to Jerusalem for this particular feast?
2.Explain why His brethren wanted Jesus to show Himself openly at this time. Why does the Lord refuse? Does the Lord deceive them into thinking that He had no intention whatsoever of going up to this feast?
3.What was the spiritual climate in Jerusalem when Jesus arrived? What were the people wondering about and debating among themselves?
4.Explain the tactics of the Jews in attempting to discredit the Lord’s teaching and in preventing the people from listening to Him.
5.How does a person know of the certainty of the Lord’s doctrines and His very identity as the Son of God?
6.Show how the Lord brings out that the Jews’ problem was unbelief and hatred of Him as the One sent of the Father.
7.How does verse 24 fit in?
8.How did the Jews expect the Messiah to appear?
9.Explain the significance of Jesus’ cry in verses 28 and 29.
10.Discuss the twofold response to the call of the gospel. Bring other Scriptures to bear on this point. How do we account for this difference among men? How is the Lord’s cry in verses 28 and 29 different from what is understood as the free offer of the Gospel, and how is it instead the open proclamation of the particular promise and grace of God?