Studies in the Gospel of John
Jesus made a surprising statement in Matthew 10:34: He said, “I came not to bring peace, but a sword.” Now to most of us that sounds like the opposite of what He came to do. And in a sense it is. Ultimately, when god the Father’s plan is completed there will be peace throughout the earth throughout eternity. But Jesus wanted His disciples (including you and me) to know that while the plan of the Father was working its way through the human race there would be much misunderstanding of the plan and much rejection of it. A good example of the “sword” brought by Jesus is John chapter 7. This is the story of the yearly Feast of Tabernacles that took place as Jesus’ life on earth was at about its mid-point. And the entire chapter revolves around conflict. In verses 1 through 13 there is conflict before the feast. Then in verses 14 through 36 there is conflict during the feast In verses 37 through 44 there is conflict at the end of the feast. And verses 45 through 53 there is conflict with the leaders of the feast!
So let’s begin our study of the chapter with the conflict that took place before the feast. The setting for the conflict is in verses 1 and 2:
After these things Jesus walked in Galilee, for He did not want to walk in Judea because the Jews sought to kill Him. (2) Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand.”
(By the way, in verse one we have one of those examples of the combination of deity and humanity that characterize the life of the Lord Jesus Christ here on earth. It is very interesting to notice that He made a decision about where He would go and where He would not go, based on concern for His life. Does this mean that Jesus was afraid of the Jews? Of course not! We know that Jesus never did any sin. Sin was not found in Him. On the other hand, it does mean that as a human being Jesus made realistic decisions about how He was going to take care of the responsibilities that God had given Him. Jesus’ primary responsibility was to die. But He was to die in a specific way and a specific time and a specific place. At the right time; at the perfect time, God brought His Son into the world.
Not one moment before the right time, Christ died on the cross for our sins. Satan, throughout Christ’s lifetime tried to put Him to death, He tried to bring about that death before the cross so that his death would not accomplish the sacrifice that God designed it to accomplish. Jesus had to be very careful to during His lifetime that He avoided those threats to His life that Satan attempted,
The atmosphere is demonstrated in the very first verse – the general animosity of the Jewish religious leaders, which had started in chapter 5 with Jesus’ statements about His deity. And this conflict was exacerbated by the feast. It took place in the Fall, and it was the most popular of all of the various feasts that were celebrated throughout the year. It is described in detail in Leviticus chapter 23, numbers 29 and Deuteronomy 16, and it commemorated the 40 years of wilderness wanderings before Joshua led them into the promised land. In the week before the feast the people would make “booths” or “stalls” of branches on the flat rooftops of their homes, in the parks, and in any clearing that they might find, then, then they would basically “camp out” in them. during the week of the feast. The ceremonies that took place during the week commemorated various aspects of the wanderings. Every morning the priests would pour out water on the ground as a reminder of the water that God provided when Moses struck the rock and water poured out as described in Exodus 17:5 and 6. Then every evening they would light the candelabra throughout the city as a reminder of the pillar of fire that led them at night that is described in Exodus 13. At the end of the seven days of celebration they would hold a “solemn assembly on the 8th day.
So all of that is “the setting for the conflict” that took place before the Feast. But in verses 3 through 9 we find the statement of the conflict. And it is very interesting to see who the speakers of the statement were: Jesus own brothers!
His brothers said therefore to Him, depart from here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works that you are doing. (4) For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly If you do these things show yourself to the world”
The brothers didn’t know whether He was the Messiah or not, but they enjoyed the fame He and therefore on a smaller scale they) were receiving. And in their human frame of reference it made sense to “go put on a show”
But the source of the statements is in verse 5.
For even His brothers did not believe in Him
On one hand it seems strange that His brothers did not believe. But in another sense, it makes Jesus seem all the more natural and human. He was so completely human that He probably didn’t live that much differently than they did – except for never sinning of course. But there are sinful human beings whose sins are so “inward” that you might not know they were sinners if it weren’t for the scriptures that teach about the “inward” sins like covetousness and pride, etc.
And just that thought of having God Himself growing up with you would be beyond what most people could imagine. But think about what they missed by not believing sooner than they did! Don’t ever be surprised what an unbeliever says or does. The same thing is true in principle for any unbelief for salvation is true in principle for any unbelief (for salvation or for fellowship) What are you waiting for?
Above all that, being unbelievers explains everything – “spiritual things are spiritually discerned,” which means “they are foolishness unto him.”
Now, having seen the setting, the statement and the source of the conflict, in verses 6 thru 9 we have the settlement of it.
Then Jesus said to them, my time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. (7) The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. (8)” You go up to the feast; I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come (9) When He had said these things to them He remained in Galilee.
Jesus answered the brothers in three ways: first, “My time has not yet come,” in verse 6a . This is a term that Jesus used often in the early days of His ministry. The phrase “my time” shouldn’t be confused with “the word “hour” often use in John. The word “hour” refers to the destined hour of God” – used in 2:4, 7:30, 8:20; 12:27, etc. But the word “time” is a translation of the word Kairos, which means “a special time” or “a particular time.” God’s timing is all important – He may want something done and He may want you to do it, but not right now.
The second part of Jesus’ answer to His brothers was: “your time is always ready” in verse 6b. In other words, they had no work to finish for God as Jesus did and Christians do – they could do whatever they wanted to do with their time. Believers are to “redeem the time” according to Ephesians 5:16. Each believer should try to determine what God wants us to do and then do it at the right time. Only as we pray about everything will we be in the “current” of His timing. Jesus did go to the feast, but not when they wanted Him to.
The third part of his answer to his brothers was, “the world cannot hate you . . .”
This strange statement is explained more fully in chapter 15 verse 19.
If you were of the world the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
The more Christ like a person is, the less the world will understand and appreciate him. Even Jesus’ own brothers were not hated by the world because they were still in the world. This is also demonstrates that he is not talking about physical characteristics here.
Remember that we are talking about the conflict that took place before the feast in verses 1-13
And the first conflict was with Jesus’ siblings, which we have been discussing. But there is a second conflict, and that was with the spiritual leaders in verses 11 through 13. Way back in chapter 5 they had made a pact among themselves to kill Jesus. And their commitment is shown in verse 11:
Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, “Where is He?”
Remember how John uses the word “Jews” to refer to the religious leaders. And here they were still pursuing that plan. They were probably hoping to arrest Him early before His followers could surround Him, providing natural protection. Of course the people who were at the feast were hearing all of this so in verse 12 we see the confusion of the people
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.”
These are still the sentiments expressed today. He is a good man – whether they believe it or not. But note: those who mean “He is good, but He is not God” are thoroughly confused. If He is not God, He is not Good. But overarching everything was a climate of fear in verse 13. The main basis of that fear described in an incident that is going to take place in chapter 9, verse 22. The setting is the healing of a man who had been born blind. This was another incident surrounded by confusion because of that demonstration. And again there was disagreement about whether or not Jesus was the Messiah. But the key to the confusion is in verse 22:
His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that Jesus was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue.
Imagine that! The very people who had been given the responsibility to teach and protect the truth of Scripture doing exactly the opposite.