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SF035 - CHRIST AND THE FEAST OF TABERNANCLES (John 7 1-13)

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Christ and the Feast of Tabernacles (7:1-13)

February 17, 2002

John 7:1-13

Introduction

John Chapter 7 begins a new section of this the Gospel of John.  Jesus has concluded His ministries in Galilee, although he will remain there for a time because of the Jewish leaders in Judea want to kill Him.

Today’s lesson centers on the fact that Jesus is God incarnate and therefore He followed perfectly God’s plan.  It also demonstrates the necessity of the new birth in that even His own brothers did not believe in Him.

1A.      The Setting (7:1-2)

1B.      The location – Galilee (7:1)

Because of Jesus “hard sayings” recorded in John 6, the enthusiastic crowds that had greeted Him in Galilee have thinned to only a few followers.  Jesus is still in Galilee but now He has only a handful of followers with Him.

2B.      The date

In chapter 6 we are told that the Passover is near (6:4.) in chapter 7 we are told that it is the time of the Feast of Tabernacles (7:2).  According to the Jewish calendar these two feasts are about six months apart.  Therefore there is a six-month time lapse between chapters 6 and 7.

3B.      The Feast of Tabernacles (see Leviticus 23:34-26, 39-44)

The Feast of Tabernacles was one of seven official feasts given to the Israelites.  It is one of three that required that all Jewish males travel to Jerusalem.

The particulars of the feast are as follows.  First, the Feast began on the fifteenth day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:34).  Second, it was a “holy convocation,” when Israel was to offer “an offering made by fire unto the Lord” (Leviticus 23:36).  Third, it lasted for eight days (Leviticus 23:39).  Fourth, those who celebrated this Feast were to take “the foliage of beautiful trees,” (Leviticus 23:40).  Fifth, they were to “rejoice before the Lord their God seven days” (Leviticus 23:40). Sixth, they were to “live in booths” (Leviticus 23:42).  Seventh, the purpose of this was to memorialize the fact that “Jehovah made their fathers to live in booths, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 23:43).

The significance of this feast is that it celebrates the harvest.  It symbolizes the coming day of the Lord when He will gather all His people to Himself.  (Revelation 1:7; 19).


2A.      The Lord and His Brothers (7:3-10)

1B.      His brothers’ request of Him (7:3-4)

They wanted Him to display His power and authority.  In verses 3-4 the Lord’s brothers try to force Him to follow the pattern of the world.  They wanted Him to go to Jerusalem and demonstrate His power to the world.

Pink makes an interesting comment concerning the use of the term “world” in verse 4.  “Here is a case in point where “the world” does not always signify the whole human race.  When these brethren of Christ said, “Go show thyself to the world,” it is evident that they did not mean, ‘Display yourself before all mankind.’  No, here, as frequently in this Gospel, “the world” is merely a general term, signifying all classes of men.”[1]

2B.      His brothers’ rejection of Him (7:5)

“See how perverse is the human heart.  These men might even live in close companionship with Christ, and even be nearly related to him after the flesh, and yet not be converted to him.  So the best of men need not wonder if they have unconverted relations, and we may not feel certain that there is any fault to be found in their example if others are not converted by it; for, certainly, there was no fault in the example of Christ, yet ‘neither did his brethren believe in him.’”[2]

2B.      The Lord’s response to them (7:6-10)

Jesus tells His brothers that His time is not yet come.  This phase has been interpreted to refer to one of two events:  either our Lord’s crucifixion or His second coming.  Pink prefers the second interpretation because of the connection with the Feast of Tabernacles.  “The three great Feasts which God required every male Israelite to observe annually in Jerusalem, were those of unleavened bread (inseparably connected with the Passover), of weeks (or Pentecost), and tabernacles.  The first has already received its antitypical accomplishment at the Cross.  The second began to receive its fulfillment on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), but was interrupted by the failure of the nation to repent (see Acts 3:1-21).  The third looks forward to the future.”[3]

Jesus condemns them because of their friendship with the world.  Indeed, if we are popular with the world it is because we are not like Him (1 John 2:15).

Jesus refused to join His brothers in their journey to Jerusalem, choosing rather to go to Jerusalem quietly and secretly.


3A.      The Confusion Concerning Jesus’ Identity (7:11-13)

James M. Boice in his commentary on this text notes that the Jews of that day held a variety of opinions concerning who Jesus was.  Boice draws a parallel between the confusion of the Jews and the variety of opinions that are espoused today.  Boice quotes C.S. Lewis concerning Jesus, “You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.  You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.  But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us.  He did not intend to.”[4]

Building on Lewis’ statement and the text Boice offers the following commentary concerning the three possible claims that are left to us regarding Jesus’ true identity.[5]

Claim 1:    Jesus was an egocentric megalomaniac.

However nothing in Jesus behavior or in the way others related to Him gives credence to this belief.  Indeed, everything about His behavior indicates He was the sanest and most balanced man to ever live.

Claim 2:    Jesus was a deceiver.

If this is true, then He was the best deceiver that ever lived because He was able to convince the fiercely monotheistic Jews that He was God in the flesh—even to the point that many years later many of them preferred death by torture to denial of His divinity.  But in a sense He was also the world’s most evil deceiver, because He claimed to be the savior of mankind when He was not.

Claim 3:    Jesus is who He said He is.

The first two claims do not hold water.  The inescapable conclusion is that Jesus is who He claimed to be: the Christ, is the Son of the living God.  That being so, we must follow Him.

Application

Simply put, who do you say Christ is?  Are you following Him?  If not, will you call upon Him this very hour?

Preparing for Next Week

Read John 7:14-31

1.      What is the relation of verse 17 to the context?

2.      What is the difference between “the law of Moses” (verse 23) and “the law of God” (Romans 7:22, 25)?

3.      What comforting truth is illustrated in verse 30?


----

[1] , Arthur W., Exposition of the Gospel of John, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975), 374.

[2] Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “The Education of the Sons of God,” Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 47 (Albany: Books for the Ages, 1997), 237.

[3] Pink, 372.

[4] Boice, James M., The Gospel of John, Volume 2, The Coming of the Light, John 5-8, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1985), 556.

[5] Boice, 554-58.

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