(If you would like to receive Pastor Harris’ weekly sermons via e-mail, Click here)
Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
March 19, 2000
Judging Jesus Rightly
As we begin our study of John 7 this morning, we jump ahead in time from where we ended our study of John 6 last week. The "Bread of Life Discourse," as the end of John 6 is sometimes called, occurs about the time of Passover in 29 A.D. Chapter 7 begins with the following time indicators.
John 7:1 And after these things Jesus was walking in Galilee; for He was unwilling to walk in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. 2 Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was at hand.
Jesus was still in the region of Galilee, but it was now the Feast of Booths. Passover is in the Spring of the year, generally occurring in late March or early April. The Feast of Booths occurs in October, so it is now about six months later. The following time line should help you see the flow of time that John records.
The apostle John does not include the many things that happened during this time because they are already adequately covered in the other gospel accounts. John’s purpose is to pick out those things that clearly support his theme that Jesus is the Son of God and that believing in Him you might have eternal life (John 20:31). The Bread of Life discourse certainly did that and so will what Jesus teaches during this feast.
Let me catch you up very briefly on what has occurred between the end of John 6 and the beginning of John 7. After Jesus had finished His Bread of Life Discourse, a strong conflict arose between Himself and some of the Pharisees and Scribes over ceremonial cleansing. These religious leaders were very agitated as it was, so when they saw the disciples eating grain without first washing their hands, they were upset that Jesus was allowing the disciples to break the laws they had made up concerning ceremonial cleansing. Jesus used the opportunity to rebuke them quite strongly for "teaching as doctrines the precepts of men" (Matt. 15:2). God has little tolerance for those that claim authority from Him to teach their own thoughts.
Jesus then went northwest to Tyre and Sidon where He ministered to a bold, yet humble Sidonian woman who had great faith. He then traveled back southeast to the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee and down to the region of Decapolis where He fed over 4,000 with seven loaves and a few small fish. Jesus then went back across to the Western shore of the Sea of Galilee where there was another confrontation with some Pharisees and Sadducees. Then going back to the northeast shore at Bethsaida, Jesus healed a blind man, and then traveled north to Caesarea Philippi. From that time on Jesus began teaching His disciples about His coming crucifixion and resurrection as He began His journey back south to Judea.
It was during this time period that Peter declared Jesus to be "the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Mt. 16:16). On a mountain north of Galilee, Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John and they saw a glimpse of Jesus’ glory as He talked with Moses and Elijah. Jesus had taught the disciples about the importance of being a servant to others if they wanted to be great in His kingdom (Mark 9:35), as well as warning them about causing others to stumble and how to help those who sin (Mt. 18).
As John 7:1 points out, Jesus had not gone to Judea during this time because the Jews, here again referring to the Jewish religious leaders who were against Jesus, were so full of hatred against Jesus that they wanted to kill Him. That had been true since Jesus had healed the man at the pool of Bethesda on a Sabbath day a year earlier (John 5:18). Their antagonism against Jesus had only grown. But now it was the time of the Feast of the Booths, one of the important feasts in the Jewish calendar in which multitudes of people would travel to Jerusalem for the celebration. The question that was in the minds of many people was when Jesus would come.
That was a question in the minds of Jesus’ brothers too. Look at verse 3 & 4. 3His brothers therefore said to Him, "Depart from here, and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may behold Your works which You are doing. 4 "For no one does anything in secret, when he himself seeks to be [known] publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world."
Jesus’ brothers were antagonistic toward Him too, for as verse 5 points out, "For not even His brothers were believing in Him." Jesus’ brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas (Mt. 13:55) would later believe (Acts 1:14), but at this time they did not. Their statement to Jesus was pointing out what they thought was an inconsistency in Him. They were much like the rest of the people. They saw Him as someone who would gain high public office, perhaps even the overthrow of Roman oppression and reestablishment of Israel as an independent nation. They did not view Jesus as the Messiah, God in human flesh who had come to redeem them from their sins.
If Jesus was after high public office, then he should have jumped at the chance to go to Jerusalem where everyone was gathering and do some of His mighty works there. They reasoned that by publically demonstrating Himself in such a manner the people would acclaim Him and He would achieve His goals.
Please note that what Jesus’ brothers say attest to the reality of the miracles Jesus had been doing. They do not question that in the least and they do believe He can do them. What they do not believe is that Jesus is the promised Messiah who would redeem them from their sins. They do not believe He is the Son of God. To them, Jesus was just their older brother who was a powerful miracle worker, but who was also delusional (Mark 3:21).
Jesus responds to them in verses 6-8. Jesus therefore said to them, "My time is not yet at hand, but your time is always opportune. 7 "The world cannot hate you; but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil. 8 "Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come." 9 And having said these things to them, He stayed in Galilee.
The word, "time," in verse 6 is kairoV (kairos) which refers to the proper or appropriate moment or opportunity as opposed to cronoV (xronos) which speaks about the chronological time of day, month or year. Jesus was very aware that He was living according to God’s schedule. This is part of what it meant for Jesus to do the Father’s will rather than His own. Jesus’ brothers could go to the feast in Jerusalem whenever they desired because they were living according to their own desires and schedule.
In addition, Jesus’ brothers were not facing the hatred of the world that Jesus was facing. They could go to Jerusalem and be paid little attention for they were no different than anyone else. But Jesus was hated by the world because His righteous life and righteous teaching condemned the evil ways of the world. Jesus was gentle and kind, but He was also straightforward about sin and particularly so with the hypocrisy of the Jewish religious leaders, and they hated Him for it. The same is still true today.
We are to speak the truth in love, but regardless of how loving you are, when you tell a person that they have a sin problem and are in need of a savior, they are either going to repent or they will hate you for it. People who like their sin do not want to be told that it is evil and brings about God’s condemnation. They would rather go merrily on their way to hell than have you warn them to flee the wrath of God that is to come. You often do not even need to say anything. Just your example of living righteously will convict them.
Of course this brings up a good point. If the world does not hate you, perhaps you should ask yourself why? Are you living righteously enough to have those in the world even notice? Or are you a spiritual schizophrenic who lives one way among Christians and another way among non-Christians? Be careful of wanting praise from the world, for it usually comes only after you compromise your faith.
Jesus told His brothers to go to the feast without Him. His time and not yet fully come. Jesus was fully aware that His enemies were looking for His arrival with evil intentions. If He went as part of the large crowd with His family and disciples, He would attract their attention immediately. Instead, Jesus stayed in Galilee awhile longer.
However, it was not very long before the Father did prompt Jesus to travel to Jerusalem. 10 But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as it were, in secret. Some have said verse 10 is a contradiction to verse 8 and a few have even said Jesus lied to His brothers. Such a statement says a lot about those commentators. I should point out that the KJV & NKJV translates verse 8 better by taking the alternate reading, "8 "You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come." This reading is attested to by many early manuscripts including one of the earliest, p66, and is the simplest solution. Jesus had not made a definite statement about not going to the feast, but had left the option open.
Jesus now does go to the feast, but as if in secret rather than publically. This is not to say that He tried to hide Himself, but rather that He did not seek to promote Himself and His arrival. This was opposite of what Jesus’ brothers had thought He should do. Jesus’ time had not come for a public arrival as the coming king. That was still six months away at the Triumphal entry just before the Passover.
Verses 11-13 give us the atmosphere in Jerusalem and people considered Jesus. 11 Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, "Where is He?" 12 And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, "He is good"; others said, "No, on the contrary, He deceives the people." 13 However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews.
The religious leaders were looking for Him, and their intentions were not good ones, as verse 1 has already indicated. Jesus would confront them on this when He did arrive. The general population was also expecting Him to come and were talking about it among themselves.
The Feast of Booths (or Tabernacles) was an important celebration in the Jewish nation. It was in one sense a thanksgiving festival but it also incorporated many important reminders of their heritage including God’s care for them in bringing them out of bondage in Egypt and through the wilderness wanderings to the promised land. In the coming weeks I will be pointing out many of these specific commemorations for Jesus will be using them to demonstrate truths about Himself. For now, please be aware that this was a feast that would be attended by those who were devout in their following after God if at all possible. This is a major reason everyone is expecting Jesus to come.
The word, "grumbling" or "complaining," here is the same one we saw last week in 6:41. It refers to murmuring and talking in low tones so as to not be overheard. The subject matter was the nature of Jesus. Was He a good man or a deceiver of some sort? The arguing was going back and forth, yet no one would say anything out loud because of their fear of the religious leaders. That says a lot about the power of these Jews over the people. If they did not like what you were saying and condemned you as being contrary to the Law of Moses, or at least their own twisted view of it, they could ban you from the Temple and synagogues. In that culture it would be a banishment from nearly all social life as well. You would instantly be an outcast of society.
Jesus arrives without fanfare or any attention drawn to Himself sometime during the middle of the feast. He simple shows up and goes about the ministry He had been doing in Galilee the previous year and half. Verse 14 – But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and [began to] teach.
The religious leaders respond in verse 15 – The Jews therefore were marveling, saying, "How has this man become learned, having never been educated?" "Marveling" comes from a word meaning, "wonder," "amazement," "astonishment," or "surprise." They could not understand how Jesus could teach the way He did when He had not gone to any of the rabbinic schools. In other words, "how could Jesus teach when He does not have credentials from the right schools." The way in which they stated the question disparaged Jesus. The NKJV translates this more literally, "How does this Man know letters, having never studied?" They stated their question as if surprised that Jesus even knew how to read for Himself.
Jesus’ answer ignored their comment and went to the heart of the issues. 16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. Jesus’ teaching was not based on what previous Rabbis had said. He was not dependent on the commentaries as they were. Jesus’ teaching came directly from God and that is why it was the true explanation of Moses as contrasted to their speculations and twisting of the Law to their own desires. Jesus’ teaching was direct revelation from God the Father. But Jesus did not stop there. He went on to confront them directly about their inability to understand and receive what He was teaching.
John 7:17 "If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or [whether] I speak from Myself. If they were willing to do the will of God they would very easily know whether Jesus was speaking on His own or truly from God. This is still true today. Many people hear about Jesus or read about Him, yet reject His claims. Why? Primarily because they judge Jesus according to their own desires and not according to God’s revelation of Him. They do not compare Jesus with what God revealed in the Old Testament or what Jesus Himself taught in the New Testament. If they did, they would see the consistency. If they truly desired to do the Father’s will, then they would see that Jesus did the Father’s will. Instead, people compare Jesus to the writings and speculations of men or their own thoughts which they hold as superior to the Scriptures.
In verses 18 & 19 Jesus gives them a very practical example of this truth in action. 18 "He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. 19 "Did not Moses give you the Law, and [yet] none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?" First, Jesus demonstrates His own character as being consistent with someone who seeks God’s will. Then He demonstrates that their character is the opposite.
If Jesus had been someone who promoted Himself, then there would be validity to some of their accusations against Him. But the truth was that Jesus never promoted Himself or even spoke based on Himself. When He was accused of doing such, it was simply the projection of the accuser. Jesus always sought the glory of the Father and taught only what the Father revealed. In addition, Jesus consistently followed the Father’s will in humble obedience. This was in sharp contrast to the Jews who were opposing Him. And Jesus pointed this out in verse 19.
They claimed to be the keepers of the Mosaic Law, but they did not even follow it themselves. This fact proved they were not interested in doing the will of God and why they did not receive Jesus’ teaching. Jesus confronts them directly that they were plotting to kill Him which is directly against the Mosaic Law (Ex. 20:13).They had actually been plotting it for well over a year (Jn. 5:18; Mk 3:6).
Please note that it was to the Jews that Jesus was responding (vs. 15 & 16) and that here in verse 20 it is the multitude that responds to Jesus. The multitude answered, "You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?" There would have a lot of people in the temple during the Feast of Booths and the crowd around Jesus is a mixture. There are the Jews, who were hostile to Jesus, along with a mixture of pilgrims from all over who were present for the feast. As indicated in verse 12, these people were a mixture of both those for and against Jesus.
As is often the case, the people are not aware of what their leaders are actually plotting. Often they are surprised or disbelieving when the truth comes out. Many of these people are from far away and they are shocked at what Jesus says. Those who were already hostile are now indignant that He would make such an accusation. They respond by accusing Him of having a demon to make such an accusation. They may have been innocently unaware of what the leaders were already plotting, but they were responsible for their own responses. Jesus was well aware that in six months these same people would be shouting, "Crucify Him," "Crucify Him."
Jesus does not back down but is direct as to when this plot against Him began. 21 Jesus answered and said to them, "I did one deed, and you all marvel. 22 "On this account Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and on [the] Sabbath you circumcise a man. 23 "If a man receives circumcision on [the] Sabbath that the Law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on [the] Sabbath?
The event Jesus is referring to is what John recorded in 5:1-18 when Jesus healed the man at Bethesda who had been sick for 38 years. Jesus had healed the man on a Sabbath day and told the man to pick up his mat and walk. When the Jews saw the man carrying the mat they were outraged that he was so flagrantly breaking their Sabbath laws. When they found out it was Jesus that told him to do this, they ignored the miracle and attacked Jesus for breaking their Sabbath laws. Jesus was direct with them both then and in this passage that He had full authority to do this miracle on a Sabbath for it was not breaking God’s command. In fact, Jesus had used the opportunity to proclaim that He was in fact the Son of God and that was why He had such authority. From that time on they had been plotting His death (5:18). In this passage Jesus brings their attention back to that event and then goes on to give them a fuller explanation of the Sabbath using their own practices as the illustration.
First, Jesus reminds them that the law of circumcision predated Moses and went back to the practice of the Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 17:9-14). He also pointed out that they themselves would circumcise a baby on the Sabbath. In Leviticus 12:3 Moses codified that the practice of circumcision was to be performed on the 8th day after birth. If that happened to fall on the Sabbath, the baby was still to be circumcised.
If these Jews were consistent, they would have seen that this was breaking their Sabbath practices. But they were not consistent. They did properly understand that to keep Mosaic Law which required the circumcision to take place they would have to suspend their own Sabbath regulations. They correctly understood that their own practices had to be subject to the Law itself. Jesus uses this against them by pointing out that He was keeping the Mosaic commandments that were superior to the regulations they had created.
Circumcision was a rite of identification of the Jewish baby boy with his covenant heritage with God. It did not make the child right with God, but it was a starting point of bringing that child into a proper relationship with God the Father for it was also an act of ceremonial cleansing for the child. How then could they be so upset with Jesus when He did more than what circumcision could do and made the entire man well. The man’s body had been healed and implied is that this man’s soul had also been cleansed. Even if they did not understand that, they could have seen that the physical healing allowed the man to join in the Temple worship again. Did they really have just cause for being so angry with Jesus that they wanted to kill Him?
Jesus concludes by challenging them, 24 "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."
Next week we will look at their response to this challenge, but this is a challenge for all of us.
For those of you who have yet to place your faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation from your sin, it is a challenge for you to properly consider Jesus’ claims. Righteous judgement is concerned with truth, not appearances. How well have you considered Jesus’ claims? How well do you know the truth? Are you judging Jesus based on your own limited understanding of the world or perhaps the teaching of someone else? Are you striving to find your own way to heaven and rejecting Jesus statement that He is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6)? Perhaps you struggle with Jesus’ claim to be God in human flesh or perhaps God appears unfair to you? Do you appear to be good to yourself? What is the truth? Are you going to make your decisions based on appearances or will you strive to go beyond the surface and discover the truth and then respond accordingly? God will not judge you based upon appearance, but upon the very deeds you have done. It will not be a matter of how good or bad you were, but of whether you are guilty of breaking any of His commandments.
For those of us that have placed our faith in Jesus, we must also be careful for too often we can judge based on appearance instead of truth. That is true in our relationship with the Lord and with others.
Be careful of judging the Lord’s goodness to you by whether you get what you want or not. Like a loving parent, God our Father gives us what we need, not what we want, and sometimes what we need is not at all what we want.
We also must be careful of judging one another by appearance. God looks at the heart, we must learn to discern the same.
Sermon Study Sheets
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times "Feast" is said. 2) Discuss the Feast of Booths with your parents and why it was important.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
When did chapter 6 end? When does chapter 7 begin? What are some of the significant events that occur between them? What did Jesus brothers think of Jesus at this time? Why did they think He should go to the Feast? Why didn’t Jesus go with them? Why were "the Jews" seeking Jesus? Where were the opinions of the people about Jesus? Why did the Jews marvel at Jesus teaching in the temple? How can a person know if Jesus’ (or someone else’s) teaching is from God or not? Could "the Jews " have known? Why or why not? Why did the multitude respond so strongly against Jesus accusation that "the Jews" were trying to kill Him? Were these Jews consistent in the application of their own Sabbath rules? Were they right to be angry with Jesus? What does it mean to "not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement." How can you put that principle into practice in your own life? Have you wrongly judged someone by appearance? What will you do to correct it?
Sermon Notes – 3/19/2000 a.m.
Judging Jesus Rightly – John 7:1-24
Matthew 15:1 – 18:35
Mark 7:1 – 9:50
Luke 9:18 – 9:50
JESUS IN GALILEE (7:1-9)
His Brothers’ Proposal (3-5)
His Answer (6-9)
JESUS AT THE FEAST (7:10-24)
Jesus’ Departure (10)
The People at the Feast (11-13)
Jesus Teaching in the Temple (14-24)
Response of the Jews (15)
Response to the Jews (16-19)
Response of the People (20)
Response to the People (21-24)
For comments, please e-mail Church office