John 7:10 But after his brothers left for the festival, Jesus also went, though secretly, staying out of public view. 11 The Jewish leaders tried to find him at the festival and kept asking if anyone had seen him. 12 There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds. Some argued, “He’s a good man,” but others said, “He’s nothing but a fraud who deceives the people.” 13 But no one had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders. 14 Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach. NLT
Why didn’t Jesus go to the Feast of Shelters with his brothers? This feast was one of three required pilgrimages for all Jews. It was their remembrance of the temporary dwellings they lived in for all those years in the desert. Why did He change his mind and go?
Noun: A place providing food and accommodations for the homeless.
Verb: To protect or shield from something harmful
Jesus WAS the Shelter! The miracles were a mixed blessing that could lead people to the Shelter or keep them from Him. For some miracles were signs of power that verified Jesus’s claim that He was sent from God, but for others they were signs of power that threatened their own reputation. “Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach.” Jesus chose to go public at this important festival, not with miraclesa but with teaching. A miracle was an improbable display of power in a given moment to direct the focus of those who saw and heard. Jesus chose to teach them something even more extraordinary; the provision of God that would shelter His people for all time.
Jesus IS the Shelter that transitions our life into eternity. He has chosen to “teach” us by His Word that reaches through the ages and redirects our focus to provide nourishment for us that is more than food and to be our Shelter for the circumstances of daily life so we might “honor the one who sent him.” That’s a miracle!
a John Piper
14 Follow me…
17 It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are ill. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners…
Could there be a more unlikely choice than Levi [Matthew] for Jesus to choose as his second object lesson to the crowd as they walked through Capernaum? They’d certainly heard that Jesus had power over physical illness but this was Levi the local tax collector. Levi had been given his power by the king to make his living by squeezing as much of their money from them as he could. What could he possibly deserve, or need, compared to some poor invalid?
This time Jesus sees something invisible in a man it’s likely no one else in that crowd would ever choose. He chooses Levi. Jesus simply said “follow me” and Levi got up and followed him. It was a different kind of miracle that revealed Jesus is a very different kind of King that has the power to make a visible change in the circumstances of a life forever.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
As I read this from Luke I couldn’t help but think of what I expect to find at that cradle. There’s a lot of beautiful images that fill my head that are probably more romance than reality. I can understand the bright light of the Glory of the Lord and Heavenly Hosts would certainly be signs and maybe a baby with a halo but the angel specifically said “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Wasn’t that what every baby was wrapped in?
There’s an old story of a European ruler who would sneak away and walk among his people incognito. It drove his security people nuts but his response was “I cannot rule my people unless I know how they live.” This birth was just like that: God revealed to our world as an ordinary baby, wrapped in ordinary swaddling clothes…from ordinary parents in an ordinary stable…incognito.
This is a mystery I’m wondering about this Advent. How many times have I missed God because the circumstances seemed too ordinary? Isn’t that the whole reason we walk again to the cradle year after year? It’s our chance to see a miracle wrapped in The Clothes of Reality.