GOOD MORNING SIBLINGS!
Today’s readings are John 7-8
🌿John 7:1 After this Yeshua went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him.
Many times in the gospels, the term “Jews” is used when a better translation would be Judeans. If you look at the context of this sentence you’ll see one of many proof texts where this makes more sense. This is a time in which the Jews were spread throughout the kingdom. Each place Messiah goes in His ministry, He is preaching to the Jews, and yet He avoided the Jews in Judea. Clearly, His problem in this passage was with the Judean Jews rather than the Jews as a whole. It is also important to pay attention to context in many other areas of the gospels (most of which we’ve read now) and to note when “Jews” is being used blanketly in reference to Jewish leaders. This is similar to someone blaming all American citizens for an action taken by the American government. These are small but subtle translation choices which have been used to fan the flames of hatred towards our Jewish brethren for far too long.
🌿John 7:2 references the “Feast of Booths” in my Bible. Some translations say Feast of Tabernacles. We call it Sukkot. I’ll talk more about that in a minute. Of course, this feast was commanded in Leviticus 23 but today we see Messiah’s brothers (yes, actual brothers he would have been raised alongside) encouraging Him to go to the feast with them. Messiah sends them along without Him but then we see that He disguised Himself so that He could go up secretly. This feast was so important to Him that He made a way to go. Having kept this feast just a few years, I can already understand such a strong desire. Of course, honoring the Father is our first desire but beyond that, Sukkot is a great gift for each of us.
Imagine the excitement modern Christians feel at their most lauded holiday each year and you will just barely come close to the excitement Messiah would have felt at keeping His Father’s Feast of Sukkot. It’s that big of a deal.
This is a wonderful feast, also known as the season of our joy. It’s basically a week long camping trip! Often people will make a temporary shelter (a booth) in their yard, decorate it, and camp in it for a week. It is one of the most joyous Biblical feasts and the one we look forward to the most all year.
The first time we kept Sukkot, we decorated the back porch and made it a point to spend as much time out there as possible that week. We had our meals outside, drank our morning coffee out there, and ended our evenings there. The second time, we managed to go camping for an entire week with a few of our Bible study friends and that was even more fun. A couple of years ago, we started doing Sukkot in a big way with a week long camping trip with our whole Bible study group. Each day we’d make our way outside to have coffee together, then on to Bible study and discussion and lots of fun time to goof off as well. We had a lot of kids in our group and planned some fun arts and crafts for them along with hiking and even a blow up movie screen one night. We had potluck suppers and songs around the campfire each night. It was amazing and I encourage you to get together with your friends, fellowship, or just your family and plan such a trip if possible. If you can’t do it for a whole week, try a couple of days. If you can’t go anywhere, find ways to honor this Feast in your home. My point is, don’t let not being able to go full steam ahead prevent you from doing what you are able to do – with great joy.
One of the neatest parts of Sukkot is that people all over the world are celebrating it but you really don’t notice it until you step into the world of folks who keep it, too. I’ll never forget, our first camping trip for Sukkot, blowing our shofars early one evening (before dark) and hearing a shofar blow in response from across the campground! Turns out, there were several other groups there for the same reason. No matter where you go or what you do, whether it be a full blown week long camping trip or decorating your back porch as a baby step to start, I want to encourage you to look into keeping Sukkot this year. After all, it was so important to our Messiah that He even disguised Himself to be able to go!
🌿1So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” John 7:16-19
Let’s break this down a bit. What is Messiah teaching? The teachings of YHWH. What does He condemn the Pharisees? For not obeying YHWH’s law as given to them through Moses. And then He asks why they seek to kill Him. He is essentially saying “I’m sinless, I keep the commandments, but you only claim to do so, so why do you want to kill ME?”
🌿Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. John 7:24
Messiah appeared to the Pharisees to be a sinner, the Pharisees were thought righteous based on their appearance. The Father does not judge based on outward appearance and neither should we.
🌿Remember all we talked about with the Pharisees having to launch Messianic investigations? With that in mind, check out John 7:26!
26 Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? John 7:26 (NIV)
🌿40 When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” John 7:40-42
Scripture had foretold that the Messiah would be a descendant of David and born in Bethlehem. While Messiah met both of those markers, these folks clearly did not realize that. By the way, Nazareth is located within Galilee.
🌿Each time I see Messiah say “You will seek me and you will not find me” to the naysayers, I remember the opposite of that promise for those whose heart is pure: “You will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with your whole heart.” (Jer 29:13) Months ago in our readings we stressed how important it is that we love the Father wholeheartedly, as His word urges us to do. Here we see the response to those who love themselves and their traditions more than they do their God and their Messiah.
🌿37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as[f] the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:37-38
What is the last day of the feast, the great day? Let’s check it out.
34 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths[a] to the Lord. 35 On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. 36 For seven days you shall present food offerings to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall hold a holy convocation and present a food offering to the Lord. It is a solemn assembly; you shall not do any ordinary work. Leviticus 23:34-36
So this is the last day of the Feast of Sukkot and they are having a holy convocation (gathering) wherein they will make an offering and likely pray and worship together. This is kind of the big send off to the Holy week of Sukkot, as we would think of the fireworks at the end of the fourth of July – but infinitely more significant.
Messiah closes out this chapter by issuing His invitation to all who are thirsty to find living water in Him – Glory! He also specifically speaks of the Holy Spirit, which we know descended as part of the “new” covenant on the Shavuot after He ascended.
🌿The woman caught in adultery
This was yet another trap. If Messiah showed her mercy the leaders could say He was breaking YHWH’s law. However, if He condemned her, they could say He didn’t know the law. According to Deut 22:22 clearly states that if a man and woman are found committing adultery, both of them are to suffer the same punishment. But here we see the leaders bringing just the woman. She cannot be condemned if the man goes free. This is YHWH’s law and either they know it and are trying to show that He doesn’t, or they don’t know it and they are hoping He will condemn her to stoning and thereby lose some of the adoration of His followers.
🌿What did Messiah write in the dirt? There has been speculation about this for centuries and we have no way of knowing for sure but there are several plausible guesses that you can find with a little searching. Personally, I think Messiah wrote the names of the men who accused her. Why? This verse in Jeremiah.
LORD, the hope of Israel, all who abandon you will be put to shame. All who turn away from me will be written in the dirt, for they have abandoned the LORD, the fountain of living water. Jeremiah 17:13
Messiah did not condemn her for her sin, just as we are not condemned for our sin thanks to Him. He did give her a parting word after freeing her from condemnation, though, and this is an order He gave on more than one occasion so pay attention to it.
I need to make note that this story is not included in the earlier manuscripts of the gospel of John. Some speculate that it could have been written later by someone who was there and inserted on John’s behalf. However, it is in line with what we know of Messiah’s behavior and wisdom.
🌿34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave[b] to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:34-36
I want to point out this verse and call our attention to the fact that in our world today, we are told that to follow YHWH’s commandments/laws is to put ourselves into bondage which we are free from because of Messiah. That is what the world says. However, Messiah says that it is sin which holds us in bondage.
Now, if the adversary were trying to get us to follow Him instead of the Messiah, a cunning way of doing that would be to flip the body of believers, to slowly lead them away from the foundational Scriptures, convince them that the gospels and letters were all we needed (taken out of context of the foundational Scriptures) and that Messiah told us to just love one another and we’d be good. Further, he would try to convince us that to do anything else would be to deny the sacrifice of Messiah and an attempt to earn our salvation. In other words, he would build in a shaming mechanism for anyone who strayed from his plan. He would convince us that his way was freedom rather than following Messiah. He has done just this thing and by and large, it has worked. Thus, the wide path is never without travelers.
Thankfully, the Word shows us when our trust is misplaced so that we can change course and put our trust fully in our Messiah instead. Glory to the King!
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
Let His light illuminate all darkness and errant teaching with us. May the scales fall so that we can partake of all the wisdom the Father generously imparts to us through His Word and His Spirit.
Again, we say, we are returning!
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!