John 7: 14 About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. 15 The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning,[this man knows his letters] when he has never studied?” 16 So 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?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” ESV
What is the general theme of the passage?
The theme of the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths was expectation and restoration. This could be the very week the Messianic Kingdom would be established! It was an annual feast that required Jewish men to make the pilgrimage into Jerusalem. Jesus has chosen to wait until the middle of the feast to go. He’s chosen to emphasize it’s His singular identity with God that is His authority to speak, not the size of his entourage. He’s chosen this Feast to give the people who are most conflicted about His purposes and His power a recognizable connection to the symbols of this week of ceremony. Jesus has chosen to reveal a hard truth to people who’ve come expecting this very week they might become part of the Messianic Kingdom by telling them; “…none of you keeps the law.”
“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty. Malachi 3:1 1
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
God has given Jesus the authority to speak on His behalf. Jesus’s presence is to affirm that His identity is the purpose of this feast. He challenges their own purposes in attending the Feast. “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will,” and then He challenges their response “he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.” Jesus has no illusions about the intent of these people “Why do you seek to kill me?”
What does it say about people?
The nature of the human heart is to assume the best about their own behavior; “Who is seeking to kill you?” and the worst about authority that challenges it “You have a demon!” Wisdom from a good pastor: “we judge ourselves by our intent, and other’s by their behavior.” But an even wiser Pastor says “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” [This man knows his letters]…“and in him there is no falsehood!”
Is there truth here for me?
There are parts of this ceremonial Feast that sound very familiar to me:[a]
– At the appropriate time pilgrims would wave a palm branch [part of a lulav] before the Lord in a spirit of thankfulness. [Remember Palm Sunday?]
– Water drawn every day from the pool of Siloam. [Remember where blind eyes were restored?] A priest spoke these words as he drew that special water out “Therefore, with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” [Remember what Jesus said about water and thirst?] Then that water was mixed together with a a drink offering of wine. The mixture of the water and wine at the altar symbolized the life and joy associated with the Holy Spirit. [Remember this wine is my blood?]
– Each afternoon there was a ceremony of “light” to symbolize two realities; the Light of all Lights to fill the Temple with the presence of God, and the Great Light who would soon come and bring light to those who were spiritually dead and dwelling in darkness. [Remember I am the Light of the world?]
– The Eighth Day —“Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37-39. [Remember where all these promises are made real today?]