The Gospel of John – Lesson 18 – John 7:1-24

After this, Jesus moved around in Galilee. He did not want to travel in Judea because the Jews were trying to find a way to kill him. Now the Jewish Festival of Shelters was near. So his brothers said to him, “You should leave here and go to Judea so your disciples there can also see the works you are doing. Indeed, no one acts in secret who wants to be known in public. If you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him. So Jesus told them, “The right time for me has not arrived yet, but any time is the right time for you. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me, because I testify about it, that its works are evil. You go up to the festival. I am not going up to this festival yet, because the right time for me has not yet arrived.” After he said this, he stayed in Galilee. 10 However, after his brothers had gone up to the festival, then he also went up, not openly but in a private way. 11 At the festival, the Jews kept looking for him. They asked, “Where is he?” 12 And there was widespread whispering about him in the crowds. Some were saying, “He’s a good man.” Others were saying, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 Yet no one spoke openly about him for fear of the Jews. 14 When the festival was already half over, Jesus went up to the temple courts and began to teach. 15 The Jews were amazed and asked, “How does this man know what is written without being instructed?” 16 Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but it comes from him who sent me. 17 If anyone wants to do his will, he will know whether my teaching is from God or if I speak on my own. 18 The one who speaks on his own is seeking his own glory. But he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him—that is the one who is true, and there is no unrighteousness in him. 19 Didn’t Moses give you the law? Yet none of you does what the law tells you. Why are you trying to kill me?” 20 “You have a demon!” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you are all amazed. 22 Consider this: Because Moses has given you circumcision (not that it comes from Moses, but from the fathers), you circumcise a man even on the Sabbath. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry at me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by outward appearance. Instead make a right judgment.”

The Festival of Shelters was one of three major festivals God commanded the Jews were to come together to celebrate every year. (The other two were the Passover and Pentecost.) This festival commemorated how God guided the Israelites through the wilderness in the days of Moses until they finally reached the Promised Land. During that journey they lived in temporary homes or tents. During the Festival of Shelters the Jews would remember those days by living in tents once again.

At this time the leaders of the Jews wanted to kill Jesus. They still remembered how Jesus recently healed a crippled man on the Sabbath Day. (See John 5) At this same time Jesus’ brothers wanted him to go to Jerusalem where he could draw more attention to his teachings and miracles. In Jerusalem many people were wondering if Jesus would come to Jerusalem for the Festival or not. But Jesus made it clear that his activities were not determined by the will of human beings. Jesus said in verse 6 of our reading “The right time for me has not arrived yet, but any time is the right time for you.” God’s plan of our salvation was carried out according to God’s timetable. Everything Jesus did was accomplished at the time his heavenly Father determined. He would go to Jerusalem. But the time was in God’s hands.

Jesus went to the Festival secretly at first. He began to teach publicly when the Festival was half over. John does not record what Jesus said when he began to teach. But his message caught everyone’s attention. This set the stage for the main message Jesus wanted to bring to them. The things he was teaching were not something he had made up. His teachings were what God said right along in his Word. Not only did Jesus’ teachings perfectly coincide with the Holy Scriptures, but also his actions perfectly fulfilled everything the Scriptures promised about the promised Messiah. All the evidence pointed to Jesus as the true Son of God and the promised Savior of the world.

But the Jews responded by looking at Jesus through the eyes of their own flawed interpretation of God’s Law. Instead of looking at what Scripture said and making their judgments accordingly, they looked only at outward appearances. Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath Day. The Jews reasoned that the Third Commandment forbid all work on the Sabbath Day so they felt Jesus violated God’s Law. Jesus pointed out that male babies were circumcised eight days after they were born according to the Law (See Leviticus 12:3). If the eighth day was a Sabbath Day the circumcision was done anyway. Jesus showed mercy to a crippled man when he healed him and called him to repentance on the Sabbath Day. In Hosea 6:6 God said “For I desire mercy not sacrifice.” In other words God’s Law was not meant to be an outward going through the motions. All God’s commandments were to be kept with an attitude of love for God and love for our neighbor as ourselves.

Sometime we also judge by outward appearances. With look with favor on the one who gives larger offerings to the church or the one who is better dressed when they come to the Lord’s house or the one who seems to outwardly live a better life. Remember how Jesus showed mercy and kindness to the poor, the lame and the blind. Remember how often he has shown mercy and kindness to us when we were spiritually poor, lame and blind due to sin. Our Lord didn’t do this because we deserved his mercy. Out of love he chose to show mercy. Let us remember what Jesus said. Stop judging by outward appearance. Make a right judgment. See other souls as those who also need God’s mercy and love. Share Jesus with them. Show mercy and love to them just as Jesus showed it to us.

Discussion Questions

1 – Why didn’t Jesus go to the Feast of Shelters (also called the Feast of the Tabernacles) initially?
Jesus did everything according to the times established by his heavenly Father. Many of the Jews wanted to put Jesus to death. Jesus knew it was not yet time for this to happen.

2 – Why does the world hate Jesus?
As Jesus said in verse 7, he testified that the works of the world are evil. Those who follow the ways of the sinful world don’t like being considered evil. They don’t want to believe they need a Savior to rescue them from their sins. Jesus taught the truth, but the sinful world doesn’t want to hold to the truth.

3 – Why were the people of Jerusalem afraid to speak publicly about Jesus?
The leaders of the Jews hated Jesus and wanted him dead. These leaders had a lot of power and influence. Nobody wanted to incur their wrath.

4 – How did Jesus reveal the hypocrisy and ignorance of the Jewish leaders?
He pointed out how they criticized Jesus for healing a crippled man on the Sabbath Day, yet they also worked by circumcising children on the Sabbath Day.

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to