Jesus is God’s abundant blessing to his people but the people reject him.
14Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”
16Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me.17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”
20“You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”
21Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”
Here in John 7 we get a glimpse into what life was like for your typical Israelite in the 1st Century. It is time for the Festival of Tabernacles, which was the annual celebration of the grain and grape harvest (Deuteronomy 16:13-15). Everyone is instructed to rejoice in God’s abundant blessing by visiting Jerusalem for 7 days of celebrating. Everyone is to be joyful and celebrate, even those who might feel like there’s little reason for joy in their life – servants, foreigners, widows. God has abundantly blessed his people. He’s provided abundant food and wine for another year – so why wouldn’t everyone joyfully celebrate?
However, this idea of joyful celebration seems out of place when you read what’s happening here in John 7:14-24. These verses seem to describe a Festival, but the people attending it are anything but joyfully celebrating God’s abundant blessing.
Jesus has skipped the first half of the Festival and then snuck into Jerusalem undercover – that is, until he starts teaching in the temple. Because this Festival is about celebrating God’s abundant blessing, surely we could expect that the crowds will respond to his teaching by rejoicing at God’s abundant blessing to them. Well… not really… Instead, they seem to be determined to not rejoice in him at all, but instead they accuse and criticise him.
The accusations that are thrown at Jesus are extreme: he’s uneducated (verse 15), he’s demon-possessed (verse 20), and he breaks God’s law by healing a man on the Sabbath (verse 23). And underlying all these very public accusations is the (still secret) plot to kill Jesus (verse 19).
Jesus is God’s abundant blessing to his people, and this Festival is all about celebrating God’s abundant blessing. Yet ironically Jesus is completely disregarded by God’s people. He’s not celebrated, he’s criticised and rejected. His teaching comes directly from the Father (verse 16), yet it is questioned. He has compassion on and heals a man (verse 23), yet they are angry that he broke the Law to do so. He is one who has come to give the Spirit in abundance (verse 38-39), yet they accuse him of being demon possessed.
So much for a seven day celebration of all God has blessed them with – they’ve completely misunderstood who Jesus is and why he has come. They’ve failed to recognise God’s biggest blessing of all time.
It is easy to point the finger at the 1st century Israelites and accuse them of failing to celebrate God’s blessing to them in Jesus. But do you see Jesus as a blessing to you? And not just any blessing, but God’s greatest blessing of all time?
Head: Why is God’s gift of Jesus a blessing to you?
Heart: When do you feel tempted to disregard Jesus as God’s greatest blessing to you? What other things are you tempted to elevate above Jesus as “blessings” you desire?
Hands: Share your answers to the “heart” questions with a trusted friend and ask them to help you re-orient your life so that you desire Jesus above all blessings.
Prayer: Father God, thank you for Jesus. I know that he is the greatest blessing that you have given me, but so often I seem to not celebrate in him, and instead I crave other so-called blessings instead of him. Spirit of Jesus, please change the desires of my heart so that I desire what you desire. Help me to follow and listen to Jesus, and not the world. In Jesus’ name and by the power of the Spirit I pray, Amen.
A song to listen to: Joy! https://youtu.be/B4AmGJICFbk