Father

The Gospel of John – ”Right Judgement”

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A strong spiritual challenge issued by Jesus against the religious leaders of Jerusalem is the theme of the next section of John chapter 7. Jesus makes the point that obedience is a necessary aspect of learning. The resistance of the scribes and Pharisees is ultimately a matter of rebellion, not knowledge. In the same way, Jesus criticises their hypocritical attitude towards His miracles – constantly trying to trap Him or pass judgement on Him.

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Jesus Teaches at the Festival

14 Not 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?”

16 Jesus 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?”

21 Jesus 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.” John 7:14-24

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Jesus’ knowledge

The Festival lasts seven days. Jesus’ appearance in the temple is after at least three days of silence. There, He once again amazes those in attendance with His knowledge (Luke 2:41–52). Key to this amazement is their knowledge that Jesus has not studied in any of the rabbinic schools (John 7:15). This would be like a person who has never been to university discussing high-level physics with a group of professors. This surprise ties to the arrogance of the Pharisees. In their view, the education and knowledge they had received made them superior to others, and especially to someone like Jesus. Convincingly to themselves their knowledge means they are obedient to God.

Jesus will clarify that the exact opposite is true. In fact, a person’s willingness to obey comes before their ability to understand truth (John 7:17). Those who refuse to believe (John 5:39–40) will not come to the truth, no matter how much knowledge they have.

The Pharisees arrogance

In Jesus’ day, common people would hear, read, and discuss the scriptures in a synagogue. However, for most of those common people, this was an occasional practice. Only those dedicated to formal study, such as the Pharisees, had the time to deeply study the Word of God. This makes Jesus’ profound expertise something incredible to the religious leaders. If a modern factory labourer began debating high-level physics with a group of professors, it would produce a similar reaction. And yet, this is not the first time Jesus has surprised people at the temple with His knowledge (Luke 2:41–52).

This surprise on the part of Jerusalem’s spiritual leaders gives insight into their arrogance. Much of their rejection of Jesus’ message is based on this assumption: nobody knows better than they do. No matter what Jesus says, they will reject it since it does not agree with their own study. Unfortunately, this study is not sincere (John 5:39–40). Later in this response to these religious leaders, Jesus will point out that obedience comes before understanding, not as a result of it (John 7:17)!

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Divine authority which Jesus

In John 5:17, Jesus claimed to be equal to God in His works. In John 5:30, Jesus claimed to be equal to God in His judgment. Here, Jesus claims to be equal to God in His teaching. Jesus receives His grounding directly from God the Father rhater than a school of religious knowledge or self-teaching. This makes Jesus able to discuss the Word of God with such skill, despite having no formal training (John 7:15).

This represents an interesting and important distinction between Jesus’ ministry, and that of Christians today. Jesus here claims that His teachings, specifically, are those of God Himself. Scripture makes sense. This also provides context for Jesus’ later comment that only those who are willing to obey God can successfully determine whether or not these teachings are valid (John 7:17). Christian believers, on the other hand, can only appeal to the spiritual authority of the Bible, and not to our own teachings. While we have the Bible—the Word of God—we don’t have the same divine authority which Jesus possessed.

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True knowledge through obedience

The phrasing used here by Jesus is unmistakable; He literally says, “If any man is willing to do His (God’s) will, he shall know…” We have to obtain true knowledge through obedience to God. Satan tempts man with limited knowledge based on disobedience (Genesis 3:5). Jesus essentially turns His era’s assumed relationship between knowledge and morality backwards. Ancient philosophers believe that morality is something that is produced by knowledge. Under that assumption, moral behaviour and the ability to do “good” was based on whether or not a person understood moral and philosophical truths. Only those who could understand could obey, they thought. In other words, misunderstanding causes disobedience, per ancient philosophy.

According to Christ, disobedience causes misunderstanding. Rather than knowledge of the truth leading to obedience, Jesus claims that whether or not a person is willing to obey God is what affects their ability to learn the truth!

An echoe can be read elsewhere in Scripture, both by Jesus and others (John 18:37; Romans 1:18–20; Hebrews 11:6). In fact, Jesus laid the groundwork for this idea when preaching in Capernaum, after feeding the thousands (John 6:29). The fact that Jesus was noted to be sinless (Hebrews 4:15), even by many of His own critics (John 8:46), demonstrates how a person’s spiritual life says a great deal about their knowledge (or ignorance) of God’s Word.

Obedience must come before knowledge

Wisdom from God

Rather than being educated in some Rabbinic school, or generating knowledge on His own, Jesus credits His amazing wisdom to God (John 7:16). In context, this is what Jesus means by those speaking on “his own authority.” While Jesus is fully man, and fully God (Colossians 1:19), His earthly mission is to follow the will of God the Father. Since the message Jesus brings is that of God, God is to be given credit for it. Even further, Jesus claims that a person’s willingness to obey God is what determines his or her understanding—rather than the reverse, where understanding enables obedience.

Even Jesus’ critics were forced to take note of His honesty and moral perfection (John 8:46). This very fact made Jesus’ claims difficult to dismiss out-of-hand. This, again, is a common theme of Christianity. When we give critics of the faith no cause to criticise us (Titus 2:7–8; 1 Peter 3:15–16), or to seek revenge (Romans 12:17–19), we make the Gospel all but inarguable.

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self-righteous, self-confident, self-centered

Here, Jesus once again attacks the self-righteous, self-confident, self-centered religion of Jerusalem’s spiritual leaders. To the people of Israel, there was no more important figure than Moses, and no ideal higher than following the laws given to Israel by Moses. For Jesus to criticise their adherence to the law was an attack on their very sense of identity. This is a criticism Jesus has posed in the past (John 5:39–47), and will bring up again (John 8:39–44). This meshes with the point Jesus made in verses 17 and 18, that those who refuse to obey God will not understand the truth. Worse, their refusal to accept Jesus is, in effect, a rejection of the very Scriptures they claim to uphold.

Despite the crowd’s skepticism (John 7:20), Jesus is well aware that the religious leaders of Jerusalem have sought to kill Him as a blasphemer (John 5:18). He is well aware that their rejection of Him is not superficial—it is deadly serious (John 7:1). And, it proves the very prediction made by Jesus in the early verses of this chapter: convicting the world of sin earns the world’s hatred (John 7:7).

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Trying to silence Jesus

In the terminology of Jesus’ day, telling someone they “had a demon” was the equivalent of saying, “you’re crazy.” The crowd, at this particular feast, was composed of people local to Jerusalem, as well as those who had arrived from remote regions. Some of those people would not have been as familiar with Jesus’ clashes with Jerusalem’s religious leaders. For this reason, when Jesus claims that some are seeking His death (John 7:19), a portion of the crowd brushes the claim off as nonsense.

Even so, some in the crowd know that Jerusalem’s religious leaders desire exactly that: Jesus’ death (John 5:18; 7:1; 7:25). This was one reason why gossip about Jesus was mostly kept private until His appearance mid-way through the feast (John 7:13). In fact, those more aware of the clashes between Jesus and Jewish leadership will begin to question whether the Scribes and Pharisees can, or want, to silence Jesus at all (John 7:25–26).

Invalid criticism

Here, Jesus refers back to the prior year’s Feast, where He healed a man at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1–9). The reaction of local religious leaders to that sign was extremely hostile (John 5:10–17). Most of that hostility was focused on the fact that Jesus had healed the man on a Sabbath day, contradicting the Pharisees’ traditions. This controversy led Jesus to claim that the Pharisees had all the required knowledge of God, but refused to come to Jesus in the way God intended (John 5:37–40; 6:29). This was also a reason Jesus stayed away from Jerusalem—and the direct influence of her religious leaders—for quite some time (John 6:1; 7:1).

In the next verses, Jesus will point out that even the Pharisees believe in performing certain spiritually-based works on a Sabbath, such as circumcision. Jesus will develop this example to show how their criticisms are ultimately invalid.

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Working on the Sabbath

Circumcision was originally mandated under Abraham, but it was part of the law which Moses established for the people of Israel. Jesus’ use of Moses has more to do with the religious leaders’ pride than anything else. In their own eyes, they were the only ones knowledgeable enough about the law, given by Moses, to make spiritual judgments. They felt this knowledge made them spiritually obedient, though in reality, they were rejecting God (John 5:39–47). One year prior, Jesus had healed a man during the Feast of Booths, on a Sabbath day. This earned Him condemnation from the Pharisees, since this conflicted with their man-made traditions.

In verse 22 and 23, Jesus points out that in order to follow the law—those given by the vaunted Moses—these same men would approve of a circumcision ritual on a Sabbath day. The question asked by Jesus in the next verse is one the hypocritical religious leaders cannot answer: if it’s alright to perform a minor “work” such as circumcision, in order not to break the law of Moses, how can they criticize Jesus for healing a crippled man on the Sabbath?

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Judge Correctly

“Judge not” is one of the most over-used clichés in discussions of Christianity (Matthew 7:1). Unfortunately, it’s almost always stated out of context. This gives the impression that Jesus simply said, “Do not judge.” In fact, Jesus often made a point of telling others that they should judge, but only “with right judgment,” as stated here (Deuteronomy 1:16; Matthew 7:2–12). Jesus’ frequent teaching was that we should not be superficial in our assessment of other people. However, it is crucial that we separate what is good from what is evil (Ephesians 5:8–16).

This statement follows a direct challenge to the spiritual authority of Jerusalem’s religious leaders. Despite having no formal education, Jesus is confounding his critics. He has accused them of hard-headedness (John 5:39–40), disobedience (John 7:17), and even attempted violence (John 7:19). As a result, as seen in the next few verses, the people of Jerusalem will begin to wonder: is Jesus being allowed to preach because the authorities are powerless, or because they have come to believe Him (John 7:25–26)?

That crisis of confidence will spur the Jewish leaders towards drastic measures to silence Christ!

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Release Your Regrets

Advertisements Once you have recognised your regret for what it is, you are then ready for the next step: release your regrets. Ask yourself these five questions: Do you regret committing a sin? Your regret may have been something you did that put distance between you and God. Letting go of that regret will requireContinue reading →

Recognise Your Regrets

Advertisements I have been thinking of regrets lately and I hope to take my experience with empowering you to respond constructively to any type of regret. Recognise your regrets for what they are. What exactly is it that you are feeling badly about? Have you either underestimated or overestimated how serious it is? What powerContinue reading →

Loving Your Regrets

Advertisements Regrets. We all have them. It may be something you wish you hadn’t done, or a missed opportunity where you didn’t take action and wish that you had. It might be something that was done to you; you were the victim, yet you still feel regret. The Sorry Cycle Whether it’s something from lastContinue reading →

Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in The Gospel of John, 2 comments

The Gospel of John – Trust God’s timing

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On one level, John 7:1-13 functions to set the stage for the rest of chapters 7 & 8. It also reveals to us some wrong views about Jesus that the Jewish people. Jesus’ own brothers, had about Him. But a careful look at these verses also reveals that Jesus is both Messiah and Lord. Which fits in with John’s purpose. We believe in Him as Christ, the Son of God, so that we may have eternal life in His name. All He did was according to God’s timing. So the main point is:

Believing in Jesus for salvation depends on having the right view about who He is.

The dominant focus is on those with wrong views about Jesus. Furthermore, Jesus did not follow His own will, but trusted in the will and timing of His Father.

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Jesus Goes to the Festival of Tabernacles

After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.

10 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?”

12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.”

Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.

John 7:1-13

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God’s timeline

The events of the next few chapters of John occur around six months prior to Jesus’ eventual crucifixion.

Previous entries in this series we have established that John presents Jesus as a man always obedient to God’s timeline. Conflict with the religious leaders of Jerusalem was always inevitable. So Jesus spent much of His time in Galilee, away from their direct influence. This only delays the eventual outcome, of course. Jesus has already done enough to earn a death sentence in their eyes. Since they interpret His earlier actions in John 5:18 as a form of blasphemy. This desire to see Jesus killed will be greatly increased due to His actions during the Feast of Tabernacles.

Remember the term “the Jews” is a reference to the religious leaders of Jerusalem and their supporters. This is an important distinction when interpreting the reactions of the crowd to Jesus’ words. “The Jews,” as described here, are a separate group from “the people.”

Jewish men were commanded to attend several feasts in Jerusalem each year (Deuteronomy 16:16). Chapter 5, brought Jesus to the city, where He healed a man at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1–9). That celebration would have been the Feast of Tabernacles, the same event shown here in chapters 7.

The Feast of Tabernacles was a 7-day event (Leviticus 23:33–34) celebrating the journey of Israel through the wilderness. The festival reminded the people of how God had provided for Israel during their journey out of Egypt. This involved enormous lamps whose wicks were made of priestly robes and priests carrying water from the Pool of Siloam. These symbolised the pillar of fire and the provision of water from the rock respectively.

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Jesus’ brothers

Verses 3-5 present both a sad commentary, and produce controversy. The Greek term is adelphoi, which can be used to refer to countrymen—meaning fellow Jews—as well as biological siblings. However, this same phrasing is used in verses such as Matthew 12:46, and Mark 6:3. In the gospel of Mark, Jesus’ brothers are even named. Psalm 69:8 “mother’s sons,” rather than “father’s sons”. The same passage which came to mind when Jesus cleansed the temple in John 2:16 (Psalm 69:9). In short, the only reasonable interpretation is that these were Jesus’ actual, physical, half-brothers, and children of His mother, Mary.

The suggestion made here is that Jesus should go and put on a show in Jerusalem. The feeding of thousands, from chapter 6, attracted a great deal of attention.

Tradition suggests that one of these brothers, James, would become a believer and write the New Testament book of James. Another brother is believed to have written the book of Jude. At least some of this disrespect might have been due to familiarity. Jewish tradition suggested that the Messiah would be relatively unknown (John 7:27). So merely knowing Jesus was enough for some to dismiss Him as the Promised One. Simply knowing “about” Jesus, or being exposed to Him, is not enough to make a person a believer.

Simply knowing Jesus should be enough to convict any believer that Jesus is the Messiah!

Sarcasm

This verse continues the sarcastic, mocking tone of Jesus’ brothers. That is, these were other sons of His mother, Mary. When Jesus fed thousands, it attracted a significant level of attention (John 6:14). However, when Jesus explained the real meaning of His ministry, most of those followers turned away (John 6:66). Perhaps this is the motivation for His brothers’ mocking: “go make a scene if you want to be such a big deal!”

Jesus, on the other hand, is only interested in following God the Father’s timetable (John 7:6). Much of what Jesus does will attract controversy, but this is not the real purpose of His actions. In order to avoid needless scandal, and to make a more subtle entrance, Jesus will let His brothers go ahead of Him. So He can enter the festival alone, and quietly (John 7:9–10). Notably, Jesus will perform no miracles at this particular festival.

Of all the people in the world who should have accepted Jesus as Messiah, his immediate family are be at the top of the list. After all, nobody knew Him as well or saw His character as clearly. And yet, this same familiarity seems to produce the opposite effect – Familiarity breeds contempt! Jesus’ own brothers—other biological children of Mary—don’t yet accept His ministry or His mission. Part of this is cultural: Jewish tradition suggested that the Messiah would be relatively unknown prior to His emergence (John 7:27).

This is also proof of several ideas explored in the gospel of John. Later in this chapter, Jesus will point out that obedience must come before knowledge, otherwise people will not believe (John 7:17). A year earlier, after healing a man at the Pool of Bethesda, Jesus pointed out that the men rejecting Him were well-educated in the Scriptures, but refused to believe (John 5:39–40). Seeing miracles won’t convince those who aren’t looking for spiritual truth (Luke 16:31). Judas Iscariot is the prime example of someone who was presented with as much “proof” as could possibly be offered, yet still rejected Christ.

Obedience must come before knowledge

Not seeking attention

On a more positive note, tradition suggests that at least two of Jesus’ siblings became believers after His resurrection. These include both the author of the New Testament book of James, and the author of the book of Jude.

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Jesus’ response to His brothers’ mocking provides an important perspective. Their teasing assumed that Jesus was merely seeking attention, and so He should want to go out in public and put on a show. However, Christ’s intent was not to simply draw a crowd, but to explain the truth (John 6:25–29). For many people, that conflicts with their preferences, causing them to ignore the message (John 6:66).

In addition, Jesus has been keeping away from Jerusalem in order to delay the inevitable conflict with the Jewish religious leaders (John 7:1). His time to be publicly proclaimed as Messiah is yet in the future (John 12:12–15), as is His sacrificial death (John 19:18). Jesus’ brothers, on the other hand, are already fulfilling their purpose—their time had already come.

Jesus has greater concerns to keep in mind.

In parallel with this, Jesus’ brothers did not face the same spiritual hostility as He did. Jesus’ life and ministry were focused on exposing the sin of the world, pointing to a need for a savior (John 7:7). When, where, and how His brothers attended such festivals was unimportant. Christ, on the other hand, had to carefully consider how He presented Himself, and when.

Jesus’ brothers are teasing Him about His public ministry and the sudden departure of many of His disciples (John 6:66). In their minds, Jesus ought to go to the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem and perform magic tricks in order to regrow His following. This shallow, teasing attitude is grounded in their lack of belief in Christ and His ministry (John 7:5). Not until after His resurrection will some of His siblings—at least two, James and Jude—become believers.

Jesus responded in the prior verse by referring to the timetable of God. In the future, Jesus will openly declare Himself the Messiah (John 12:12–15). He will recognie that His ultimate purpose is about to be fulfilled (John 17:1).

For now, however, He will act in order to follow God’s will, instead of chasing publicity.

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Jesus’ brothers have no such restrictions, for two reasons. First, they are already living in “their time.” They can move about the world without much consequence. Secondly, they do not face the spiritual resistance which Jesus encounters. Christ’s ministry confronts sin and hypocrisy. As shown over and over in Scripture, a common response to conviction is not repentance, but hatred and violence. Both in His earthly ministry and in the work of Christianity, the world often responds in the same way to the Gospel: with persecution, instead of submission.

Obligation to attend the festival

Jewish men were obligated to attend several feasts in Jerusalem each year (Deuteronomy 16:16). The biggest of these was the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34). During this time of year, Jerusalem would have been swarming with pilgrims, visitors, and travelers. Instead of travelling to the feast with His brothers, Jesus intends to arrive alone, in order to make a quieter entrance (John 7:10). Despite the teasing coming from His siblings (John 7:1–5), Jesus is not seeking publicity or popularity (John 6:25–29). On the contrary, He knows that His message will be opposed, since people hate to be reminded of their own sin (John 7:7; 15:24–25). Jesus is also sensitive to the will of God the Father and knows that His work on earth needs to follow God’s ultimate plan.

As shown in later verses, Jesus does attend the feast, though He does not begin to preach or teach until several days later (John 7:14). For this reason, some manuscripts add a Greek word for “yet” into Jesus’ statement to His brothers: “I am not [yet] going up…” This is true to the context, but not necessary, and also not found in the older copies of Scripture. Jesus’ meaning is clear both in context and in practice: “you go now, I am not.”

Notice, also, that Jesus performs no miracles during this particular festival.

In chapter 6, Jesus performed a dramatic feeding of thousands, followed by a public debate in the city of Capernaum. These kinds of high-profile events brought attention from the religious leaders of Jerusalem, who had already condemned Jesus as a blasphemer (John 5:18). To avoid direct conflict, Jesus has been keeping to the region of Galilee, rather than getting to close to Jerusalem (John 7:1). This area was close enough to Jerusalem for news to travel, but outside of the immediate control of the Scribes and Pharisees.

However, as a Jewish man, Jesus was obligated to enter Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:16). His unbelieving siblings have been teasing Him over the loss of disciples described in the last chapter (John 6:66). Somewhat sarcastically, they suggest that if Jesus wants to put on a show, He should go to the feast and do just that: draw a crowd. Instead, Jesus tells them to go on ahead without Him (John 7:8).

Christ’s intent here is to honor God’s timeline (John 7:6).

Make a quiet, private entrance. Then, several days into the festival, He will once again being publicly preaching (John 7:14). Jesus will not, however, perform miracles during this feast.

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Jesus’ brothers—other children of His mother Mary—do not believe in His ministry at this point (John 7:5). Instead, they have teased Jesus by suggesting He go to the festival to draw a crowd (John 7:3–4). Jesus responds by pointing out that He is working from a divine schedule, which they are not a part of (John 7:6). He also notes that their attendance won’t be met with as much resistance as His will (John 7:7–8). So, Jesus tells His brothers to go ahead without Him, while He remains in Galilee (John 7:9). Later, as shown in this verse, Jesus will make a quiet, private entrance. The Feast of Booths covers an entire week, so Jesus’ eventual preaching in the temple does not happen until several days later (John 7:14).

These few days of anonymity would have given Jesus a chance to see and hear, first-hand, the rumors swirling through Jerusalem. Verses 11-13 describe how the people are curious about Jesus and what He will do at the festival. However, that gossip is spread with some sense of fear. “The Jews,” as the phrase is most often used in the gospel of John, refers to the religious leaders of Jerusalem. These men have already marked Jesus as a blasphemer (John 5:18; John 7:1).

The Feast of Tabernacles was one of the grandest events on the Jewish calendar. For an entire week, the people of Israel participated in rituals and events commemorating their journey out of Egypt through the wilderness. As one of the required feasts for all Jewish men (Deuteronomy 16:16), those who were curious about Jesus expected to see Him arrive at some point in time. None would have been more interested than the religious leaders of Jerusalem, whom the gospel of John typically labels “the Jews.”

It seems the religious leaders are making the same mistake as Jesus’ brothers (John 7:4–5). They assume that what Jesus wants is publicity, popularity, and power. On the contrary, Jesus is committed to preaching the truth (John 6:26–27), even when it causes most people to turn away (John 6:66). For this reason, Jesus entered the festival alone, and in private, after His family had already arrived (John 7:8–10). He arrives to find the people debating His character and mission.

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Jesus’ feeding of the thousands, described in chapter 6, was only the most public of His actions thus far. The combination of His miracles, His teachings, and His conflict with the religious leaders of Jerusalem made Jesus a popular subject of gossip at the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus complicated His public image by explaining that His ministry was ultimately spiritual, not material (John 6:26–29), which caused many people to abandon Him (John 6:66). Here, in the days before Jesus begins teaching in the temple (John 7:14), the people are quietly discussing His public ministry.

This crowd is described as “the people,” a term referring to the general crowds attending the Feast of Tabernacles. This would have included Jewish pilgrims as well as residents of Jerusalem. The term “the Jews” refers more specifically to the religious leaders of the city, and their followers, whose opinion of Jesus is quite clear (John 5:18; John 7:1). In fact, this anger is already so strong that the crowds in Jerusalem keep their discussions of Jesus private, out of fear.

Jesus’ earthly ministry was often the source of controversy and debate. Ultimately, this is grounded in mankind’s natural hatred of conviction. Showing someone the reality of his sin is a sure fire way to earn his anger (John 15:22–24). Likewise, people are attracted to flashy miracles and other signs (John 6:26), even though they aren’t really interested in spiritual truth (John 6:66). Jesus’ willingness to confront the religious leaders of Jerusalem (John 5:39–40) was a particular source of scandal. A full year prior to the events of this chapter, Jesus had healed a lame man at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1–9), enraging the Pharisees (John 5:10–12). His response to them earned Him their hatred, and their desire that He be killed (John 5:18).

That seems to be the mood driving the people to discuss Jesus furtively, rather than openly. The people are curious and split on their view of Jesus, but are afraid to express those ideas too publicly, for fear of Jerusalem’s religious leadership (John 7:1).

Ultimately, Jesus followed God’s timeline and so should we.


Smite me, oh Mighty Smiter

Advertisements Oh mighty smiter! Smite me! Oh wait, you keep doing it! Bring it on. I can take it! Remember that line from the movie “Bruce Almighty”… “smite me oh mighty smiter”. Well… I got some questions for God, some questions for fellow believers. God makes promises throughout the Bible. Are those promises meant forContinue reading →

In The Garden

Advertisements “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses…and the voice I hear falling on my ear the Son of God discloses…And he walks with meand he talks with me…and he tells me I am his own…and the joy we share as we carry there…no other has ever known……HeContinue reading →

Psalm 23 – The Great Shepherd

Advertisements The great Shepherd, The Lord  In Him I do not lack I rest in His presence in pastures green, and I am given the water of life Water refreshing my soul My guiding light on paths right Valleys are darkest – I fear nothing    For the great shepherd is nearest A rod and a staff,Continue reading →

Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in The Gospel of John, 1 comment

Holy Week

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The resurrection of Jesus 

What is Holy Week?

Holy Week is a series of eight days that allow us as Christians, as believers, as followers of Christ, an opportunity to reflect upon the shift in humanity Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross launched. It starts with Palm Sunday when Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem. The week leads us through the Last Supper, His crucifixion, and ends on Easter Sunday with His resurrection. This is the basis of Christianity – His sacrifice launched the New Covenant God promised and many had prophesied throughout the Old Testament. Each day of Holy Week allows us to peek into the heart of our Saviour at an intently close proximity. His love for us is reflected in every significant step toward the cross, every breath up to the last, and His resurrection.

How Holy Week Leads to Easter Sunday

Though Jesus didn’t walk the earth as fully man until He was born in Bethlehem to Mary and Joseph, He exists and works throughout the entirety of the Bible. Scripture assures us that He was present at Creation with the Father, that He is the Word, and many prophesies were specifically fulfilled during this final, holy week of Jesus’ life on earth. Each Gospel has a narrative of the last week of Jesus’ life (Matthew 21-28; Mark 11-16; Luke 19-24; John 12-21).

By enduring and defeating death sacrificially for us, He swung open the gates of heaven making a way for our sin to be forgiven and usher us into the presence of God (Romans 5:8).

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Palm Sunday

Holy week starts with Palm Sunday. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday; palm branches, which symbolise triumph or victory, were strewn in Jesus’ path, as He rode into the city. He rode into town on a humble donkey, fulfilling the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your kings comes to you, righteous and victorious, low and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The people welcomed Him, echoing the words of Psalm 118:25-26:

25 Lord, save us!
    Lord, grant us success!

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
    From the house of the Lord we bless you.

more popularly recognised as “Hosanna! Hosanna!”

The word hosanna originated from the word save. The meaning of the word eventually shifted to express gratitude for salvation, and is used in the New Testament initially in Matthew 21:9: “The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes the name of the Lord!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’” This is a pivotal moment in the history of humanity, as the long-awaited new covenant God promised to His people would produce new salvation through Jesus’ death on the cross.

Monday

On the way back into the city from Bethany, where Jesus and the twelve spent the night, Jesus became hungry. Seeing a fig tree with no fruit on it, though it was full of leaves and thus should have been full of fruit, Jesus spoke a curse on the tree. Jesus went to the temple on Monday and confronted those making a profit off of the people coming to worship there.

“Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said the them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a den of robbers.’” –Matthew 21:12-13

Those who heard and witnessed Jesus’ miraculous healings that day sang praises to Him, which caused authorities to begin looking for a way to kill him. The Gospel of Luke says that “they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.” Luke 19:48

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Tuesday

The next day, Peter noticed the fully withered fig tree Jesus had cursed, to which Jesus admonished a lesson to have faith and recognise the power of forgiveness:

Mountain mover

22 Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”  –Mark 11:22-26

Holy Tuesday was a day of avoiding traps and teaching. The priests set four traps for Jesus, the first questioning His authority, to which He answered with a question and then taught three parables: The Parable of the Two SonsThe Parable of the Tenants, and The Parable of the Wedding Banquet. The second trap challenged Jesus’ allegiance, the third trap attempted to ridicule Jesus’ belief in resurrection, and the fourth Jesus answered by claiming God’s greatest command to be “Love.”

“This is the real, historical Jesus: fully in control as he responds with grace and truth to traps on all sides. He knows what he is doing. And he knows what is coming.” 

Stopping at the Mount of Olives to rest on the way back to Bethany to spend the night, Jesus spoke to His disciples about the upcoming trials for His followers.

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Wednesday

Though the Gospel of Luke states, “every day he was teaching in the temple,” Holy Wednesday is referred to as a day of rest for Jesus. While in Bethany, a woman anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume. It is also widely known throughout the church as “Spy Wednesday.” While Jesus rests in Bethany at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, the plot of the high priest and the authorities to kill Jesus is in full swing.

Finding an open opportunity in the greed of Judas, Satan entered him. Judas went to the chief priests and authorities, “and from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.” He would soon betray Jesus for the price of a slave, and the twelve would scatter. None of the twelve will be left at the foot of the cross as Jesus dies but John.

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Maundy Thursday

On Holy or Maundy, Thursday, in an upper room, Jesus and His disciples shared the Last Supper. On this day, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples and broke break with them for the last time. Still celebrated today as a part of many congregational traditions, the bread broken and the wine shared represented the body and blood of Christ, to be broken and shed for the disciples, and all of us. During the meal, Jesus predicted His betrayal by one of them and Peter’s denial.

After the meal, the disciples accompanied Jesus to the Garden at Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed in agony. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel came to strengthen Jesus in the garden. There, He taught His disciples, and us, what to do when we come to the end of our own strength and need God to help us press on.

Maundy, from the Latin root madam, means “commandment” or “mandate.” On that Thursday Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment, which is why we use the term Maundy today. The word in this context is used by Jesus after He washes the feet of His friends.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.” –John 13:34

No one knew love like the sacrificial and selfless love of Jesus before the cross. Thus, a new commandment to love sacrificially and selflessly.

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Good Friday

The cross- symbol of God’s love to people

Good Friday was the last day of Jesus’ life on earth before His resurrection. He was betrayed by Judas, as predicted, and denied by Peter, as predicted. His disciples scattered. He was arrested and was placed on trial falsely. He was condemned, beaten, mocked, and required to carry His own cross to the place where He was crucified and died. “The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head.” Though he was offered something to dull the physical pain, Jesus refused. He chose to face the pain of death head on. They stripped Him of His clothes and cast lots for them, fulfilling another prophecy.

Two prisoners were crucified alongside Jesus. One mocked Him, but the other said, “‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise’” (Luke 23:39-43). Amidst the most cruel, unfair, unjust, and painful death a human body could endure, Jesus chose to respond in grace to the criminal beside Him and care for His mother and best friend. “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother’” (John 19:25-27). At noon, Jesus cried out

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” and died.

“It was at about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” –Luke 23:44-46

Jesus was taken down from the cross, wrapped in linens, and placed in a tomb.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

This doesn’t mean we are protected from all things that are bad. Jesus’ death was awful. The most painful thing, physically, mentally, and spiritually, that any human could have to endure. Why would Jesus choose to obey His Father’s will? And why was His will for His only Son to suffer? God’s ways are truly above our ways, but the good that came out of Jesus’ death saved our souls for eternity. We are called to suffer with and suffer for Christ (1 Peter 2:21, 2 Timothy 2:3 )

It’s called Good Friday because, by Jesus’ death, he became the final, complete sacrifice for our sins. We couldn’t have erased our sins. Our hands would have been forever stained with every single sin for a lifetime. But Jesus broke the bonds of death and sin!

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Black (or Holy) Saturday

In the stillness, humanity awaits Christ’s resurrection


Jesus’ body rested in the tomb on Holy Saturday; it was a rich man’s tomb, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 53:9. Preparations were made for Jesus’ body and placement in the tomb until 6pm, when preparations for the Sabbath began.

“The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.”Luke 23:55-56

Holy Saturday is a time for us to lean into being present in the Lord, placing our own agendas at the door, and coming before Him to simply be with Him. The Lord desires a relationship with us, and a requirement of a relationship is time together. Holy Saturday is a great day not to ask for anything, but to simply spend time within the Spirit of the Lord.

There are varying theories as to where Jesus’ soul was in between His death on the cross and His resurrection. The Bible doesn’t really say too much about where He is at. From His statement to the criminal on the cross, “you will be with me today in paradise,” we can only assume that He was in the presence of His Father in heaven on Holy Saturday.

Easter Sunday (Resurrection Day)

He is Risen!!


“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” –Matthew 28:6

On Easter Sunday, Jesus rose from the dead, fulfilling the prophecy. Early in the morning, the women who had prepared the spices before the Sabbath returned to Jesus’ tomb to find it empty. Mary Magdalene arrived first.

“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.” –John 20:1

Two men, angels, appear to the women to tell them Jesus has risen. The women, both afraid and joyful, remained first silent, and then quickly finding the eleven disciples. Mary ran ahead to tell Peter and John, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him” (John 20:2). Jesus met the other women on their way!

“And behold, Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshipped him.” -Matthew 28:9-10

After all eleven have been informed, they rush to the empty tomb. Jesus appeared to Cleopus and another on the road to Emmaus, and to Peter. That evening, He entered a room with locked doors to greet the other ten disciples. “Peace to you!” (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-23)

“It can see like to claim that the resurrection changes everything is an example of hype, but as you read the Bible and you understand all that flows out of Jesus’ resurrection, it is no exaggeration to say that Jesus rising from the dead literally changes everything.”

Prayer for Holy Week

Father, Holy Week reminds us how intentional You are about loving us. You came to save the lost, You sent Your only Son to be sacrificed so we could be in Your presence. Jesus, thank You for making a way for us. May we come to know fully and never forget the lengths You went to save us. Bring the story of each day to life for us as we walk through this week. Move our hearts closer to You, and direct our lives to bring honor to You. Jesus, help us to follow Your new command of love. Help us to understand and receive Your love, and teach us how to love the people in our lives well. Bless this week, Father, and may many new souls come to receive Your grace. In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.

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