There is a richness of the events of John 7 that we have lost by our lack of understanding of the Jewish Festivals. The Feast of the Tabernacle was a fall time of great joy. The three feasts were Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of the Tabernacle. Many of us now understand the Passover. Pentecost was a festival of the first grain harvest. But “The Feast” as it was referred to in 1 Kings 12:32, was the final fall harvest. This came just days after Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. The sins of Israel were forgiven and the people came together. They lived in booths (small tents) to commemorate the time of the exodus, but they gathered in a time of joy and celebration.
There were readings for each of the first 3 days from the Torah (the first 5 books) and the Haftarah (the other books of the old testament), but on days 4-7 there was only readings from the Torah. The final reading from the Haftarah was the book of Ecclesiastes. It was on these days, 4-7, that Jesus began his teaching in the temple.
If you haven’t read it recently it is worth a quick read through Ecclesiastes. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity is the start of this book by Solomon. Vanity is defined as “excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements.” Vanity of vanities would be pride in being a proud person. (can you think of a better description for the religious leaders?) It also contains the words that there is a time for everything (an admonition to his brothers?)
But in Chapter 9 of this book is a small story told by Solomon about a poor wise man who saved his village, made up of only a few men, from the onslaught attack of a mighty king with great weaponry, but, despite this, “nobody remembered that poor man. 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.”
And, it was the day following this, that Jesus began to teach in the temple.
The final day of the feast, there are 2 readings from the Torah. The first is the final blessing of Moses given to the tribes at the end of Deuteronomy. The second is from Genesis 1. Keeping in mind that the Torah was a scroll, this got them to the very end of the scriptures, only to rewind and start over from the beginning, something they had done year after year after year for hundreds of years. But it was in the middle of this that we find Jesus in v37 when he stands and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink”. The entire point of the Torah was to point to this very moment, the promise of the greatest blessing of all, the blessing of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus announces there is a sequel, more of the story, that the first book of the trilogy points to, and it is available to them right now, right in that place, all they have to do is come to Him and drink!
From the scriptures, some thirsted for more. They recognized that Jesus was the Messiah, the prophet, the promised one. But others simply wanted to rewind and do it again, forever cycling through the things that give them pride in themselves for following, the pride of the proud. They consider themselves to be rich because of their birth as Hebrews and the schooling they have received. Jesus offers them salvation and they seek only to kill him and forget him.
He taught in the temple courts with great wisdom. Jesus explained that his teaching came from God. He advised to look to the reasons why someone speaks, if to bring glory to themselves, then be cautious. If to bring glory to God, then there is nothing false about him.
He healed the lame man on the Safbath at the pool at Bethesda, the command of circumcision
Their hypocrisy and the darkness in their heart. It is ok to have some exceptions to the law (no work on sabbath, but ok to circumcise) but not others (heal someone, carry a mat). They professed to follow the commands on one hand, but had murder in their hearts on the other.
He spoke from the authority of God the Father who sent Him. They refuse God because they refuse Jesus (no one comes except through Jesus). They do not know Him because of bible illiteracy, they avoid the word of God as being “too hard.”
It makes all the difference. Who else is there who offers eternal life and has the authority to provide it?