John 7:1-24- Behold! The Tabernacle of God.
Explanation-The Feast of Tabernacles was meant to be a reminder to the Jewish people of the provision that God gave during their wilderness wanderings. It was a time of great joy and celebration.
Christ’s brothers beckon Him to come to Jerusalem with them as they went up for the festivities. Who exactly these brothers were is unclear, It very well could have been that these were His brethren according to the flesh, namely Joseph and Mary’s other children, but at any rate we are informed by their words to Jesus that they had not yet come to believe in Him. They did not understand Christ’s purposes their ignorance is displayed in their statement.
The answer that Christ provides when prompted to go to the feast is one of controversy. This specific section of Scripture has been used by many critics to claim that Christ lied to His brethren. In this lying, He cannot be the sinless Son of God, or so they say. Let us examine His words find the truth of this matter. When prompted to travel with His brethren to the feast, Christ responds by saying, ‘My time has not yet come… You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.’ (7:6, 8). Yet immediately after in verse nine we are told that, ‘After His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He also went up…’ What could this possibly mean? Did He not say that He was not going to be joining them at the feast? I believe the answer to this dilemma can be found when we look closely at Christ’s response. In verse eight Christ says that, ‘…my time has not yet fully come.’ In this we find that Christ had a timeline for every detail of His earthly ministry. Nothing was left to chance or compulsion, but all had been planned precisely. We are not told exactly how much time passed between when Christ refused to come and when He decided to leave, but the point was that every hour, minute, and second was considered in Christ’s mind. When He did finally depart for the feast it was the precise time which He had appointed. Therefore, Christ was not lying when He spoke in such a way to His brethren, the words He spoke were 100% truth- His time had not yet come.
There were those of the Jews who were looking for Jesus at the festival and we are told that men were asking questions about Him. This shows how popular Christ had become and how curious the people were of His nature. Was He just a good man, or was He a deceiver who was leading the people astray? At the precise moment, Christ enters the temple and begins to teach. This is fascinating in light of the festival that He was attending. While the Jews were celebrating this Feast of Tabernacles and were stirring up remembrance of the tabernacles in which their ancestors once dwelt while travelling the desert; they are oblivious to the reality that the very God who led them through the desert and preserved them along the way was ‘tabernacling’ in a body of flesh amongst them. The mystery of the ages was before their eyes, yet they were without spiritual sight and therefore unable to see.
The people marveled at Christ in the sense that they knew He had received no formal education in the rabbinical ways. Yet He spoke as one with learning. Elsewhere it is recognized that He spoke with an authority that the people had never heard from other religious leaders. Should this surprise us? Christ held all wisdom, knowledge, and authority within Himself. He needed that no man teach Him anything for He was constantly in direct communion with His Father. Christ speaks to them about the authority He has from His Father and reminds them of their falling short of the law of Moses. He knows that there are those who are seeking His death and He makes that known as well. Unfortunately, being that those in the temple did not have the spiritual eyes to see Christ’s glory, they made wild assumptions about His words, even going as far as to say that He had a demon! Christ rebukes the crowd by reminding Him that it is lawful to do good on the sabbath. It is unclear from the context of John, but His response here seems to imply that He had performed some healing on the Sabbath that the Jews were trying to condemn Him for. This could be a reference to one of the many occasions account where, on the Sabbath, Jesus healed, and the Jews took offence. Or it could refer to a healing that Christ performed at the feast. At any rate, the principle still stands, the Jews did not understand the law and misinterpreted it freely. The ironic thing here is that they were standing face-to-face with the lawmaker and were seeking to argue with Him about His own precepts.
Application- As we ponder over this text, let us consider the way in which men spoke of Christ in His own day. In verse 12 we see men discussing the nature of Christ. Was He a good man, or was He a deceiver leading men astray? Is this not similar to the discussions and thoughts that men have today? As we think of our own culture it is safe to say that we are very ‘Gospel informed’. What I mean by that is that most men have heard the name of Christ and received some presentation of the Gospel (whether or not that Gospel was presented accurately is another story). With so much commotion about Jesus, it is safe to say that He is on people’s minds and in their conversations. What they personally believe about Him is another story completely. Some say that He was a good teacher, others say that He was a fraud and a liar, yet others seek to deny His existence completely. One thing is for certain, He cannot simply be irrelevant. Much like in His own day, Jesus remains a controversial figure. His claims cannot be ignored, and men are forced to reconcile with this in their hearts. As those who have been granted the eyes of faith, we see Christ as the very tabernacle of the living God. We know of His dwelling amongst men and the work that He has, is, and will accomplish. It is our job to continue to proclaim the historical, Biblical, and eternal Christ to all men whether they would believe or not. Who knows, God very well may take the simple seeds we sow and increase them 100-fold for His glory!