John 11:54 As a result, Jesus stopped his public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a place near the wilderness, to the village of Ephraim, and stayed there with his disciples. 55 It was now almost time for the Jewish Passover celebration, and many people from all over the country arrived in Jerusalem several days early so they could go through the purification ceremony before Passover began. 56 They kept looking for Jesus, but as they stood around in the Temple, they said to each other, “What do you think? He won’t come for Passover, will he?” NLT
The Jews carved out a convenient and workable system of government for themselves even though they were actually under Roman rule. It’s a system dependent on being able to exercise their authority by maintaining a low profile. People are coming into Jerusalem from “all over the country” to ceremonially purify themselves before Passover begins. The stories of Jesus and his miracles are being repeated and many believe. Jesus has become an inconvenient attention-getting detail that has too many people talking.
They gather because this preparation is a necessary prerequisite to their eligibility to participate in the week of Passover. There are ceremonial washings in small pools filled by “living waters” fed by a nearby spring or well. In a land of dust and heat that baptismal-type of cleansing has become both a sign of their repentance from ceremonial pollution and an official pardon for their separation from God. They have evidence from their own Scripture that God has acted on their behalf. They have awareness of needing purity. They have the desire for holiness. They have firsthand stories of miracles people have seen Jesus do with their own eyes. They have the right question: “What do you think? He won’t come for Passover, will he?” Only one right response is missing in all their devoted preparation …Come, Lord Jesus!
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalm 139:23-24 NLT