7. Opposition

Jesus' brothers urge him to go up to Jerusalem for the Festival of Shelters (7:1-9).

After this Jesus continued to go about in Galilee. He chose not to go into Judea because the Jewish authorities there were determined to kill him. It was almost time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, so his brothers said to him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea. That way your followers will be able to see the miraculous things you are doing. No one acts in secret if he wants to become well known. Since you can do such miraculous things, let the whole world know about it." (Even his own brothers did not believe in him.)

Jesus replied, "It is not yet the right time for me, but for you one day is as good as the next. People hate me because I tell them that what they are doing is evil, but you give them no reason to hate you. Go on up to the Festival. I won't be going there right now because the right time for me has not yet come." So he stayed in Galilee.

Roman road

Jesus eventually goes up to Jerusalem and teaches in the temple. He defends his teaching as coming from God and arouses hostility by claiming the right to heal on the Sabbath (7:10-31).

However, after his brothers left for the Festival, Jesus did go up to Jerusalem, not with others but by himself.

The Jewish leaders were expecting him at the Festival. They kept asking, "Has anyone seen that man?" There was a lot of guarded discussion about him among the crowds. While some held him to be an honorable man, others said that he was deceiving the common people. But since the people were afraid of their leaders, no one spoke openly about Jesus.

About midway through the Festival, Jesus went into the temple and began to teach. The Jewish leaders were astonished when they heard him. They asked, "How does this man know so much when he hasn't studied in our schools?"

"What you hear me teaching is not something I made up," said Jesus. "It comes from the one who sent me. If a person chooses to obey God, he will know that what I am teaching comes from God. I am not speaking on my own. Whoever speaks on his own authority wants to bring honor to himself. But the one who desires to bring honor to the one who sent him is a person of integrity -- there is nothing false about him. It was Moses, was it not, who gave you the Law? But none of you are keeping it. Otherwise you wouldn't be trying to kill me."

The crowd shot back, "A demon has driven you mad! What makes you think someone is trying to kill you?"

Jesus answered, "I performed a miracle on the Sabbath, and you were all offended by it. Moses ordered you to circumcise your sons (actually the practice began with the patriarchs, not Moses), so you go ahead and circumcise even if the required time falls on the Sabbath. If you can circumcise on the Sabbath without breaking the law of Moses, why are you upset with me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? Stop judging on such a superficial level. Get to the heart of the matter."

Judean wilderness

Then some who lived in Jerusalem said, "Isn't this the man they want to kill? Yet here he is, speaking in public, and no one has said a word to stop him! You don't suppose the authorities have found out that he really is the Messiah? But that couldn't be! No one knows where the Messiah will come from, but everyone knows that Jesus is from Nazareth."

As Jesus was teaching in the temple he raised his voice and said, "So you think you know me and where I came from, do you? I didn't come on my own initiative but God was the one who sent me. You don't know him, but I know him because I came from him, and he was the one who sent me."

Some of the people wanted to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him because his time had not yet come. However, many in the crowd believed in him. They reasoned, "When the Messiah comes, surely he won't do more miracles than this man has done?"

The religious authorities send the temple guard to arrest Jesus (7:32-36).

When the Pharisees learned that the crowd was considering the possibility that Jesus could be the Messiah, they got together with the chief priests and sent temple guards to arrest Jesus. Jesus told the people, "I will be with you a little while longer, and then I will return to the one who sent me. You will look for me but you won't find me. Where I am, you cannot come."

Mediterranean Sea

The Jewish authorities said to one another, "Where does he think he can go that we can't find him? He can't possibly think that by going to some foreign country and continuing his teaching among the Greeks, that he will escape us! What did he mean when he said, 'You will look for me but you won't find me,' and 'Where I am you cannot come'?"

Jesus invites the thirsty to come to him for living water. At dawn during the Festival of Shelters the high priest would lead a procession to the Pool of Siloam and return with a golden flagon of water that was poured out before the Lord (7:37-44).

On the last (and the most important) day of the Festival, Jesus stood and called out, "If you are thirsty, come to me and drink. If you believe in me, rivers of living water will flow out from deep within you, just as the Scripture says." (Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit, who would be given to every believer. The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been raised to glory.)

When the people heard these words, some in the crowd said, "Without doubt this man is the prophet!" Others said, "No, he is the Messiah." But others argued, "That can't be, because the Messiah doesn't come from Galilee. Scripture says that the Messiah will be a descendant of King David and be born in Bethlehem, the village where David lived." So the people were of a divided mind as to what should be done with Jesus. Some wanted to arrest him right then and there, but no one laid a hand on him.

Modern Temple guards

The religious authorities are upset because Jesus was not apprehended. Nicodemus counsels a fair hearing for Jesus (7:45-52).

When the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, they were asked, "Why didn't you bring Jesus with you?

"No one has even spoken like that man!" declared the guards.

"Don't tell me that you too have been fooled," said the Pharisees. "Note that none of the chief priests or Pharisees have fallen for him. As for this mob that knows nothing of the law -- they are bound for hell anyway!"

Nicodemus (who had met with Jesus at an earlier time) was one of this group. He posed the question, "Is it not true that our law will not condemn a man without first listening to what he has to say?"

In an attempt to ridicule Nicodemus they asked, "Are you from Galilee as well? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself that no prophet ever comes from Galilee."