Sunday, February 04, 2024

“At The Feast” [Matt's Messages]

“At The Feast”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
February 4, 2024 :: John 7:1-52  

Have you ever noticed that Jesus has a way of making everything about Him?

The conversation that swirls around Jesus keeps coming back to Jesus. And He keeps talking about Himself, too.

Some people are always deflecting attention from themselves.  Some people are always drawing attention to themselves. Some people can’t help it if attention gets drawn to them for whatever reason. Some other people keep making themselves the topic of conversation.

Most of the time, we get tired of people like that–people that make everything about them.

But what if there was Someone that everything actually was about?

Have you made up your mind yet about Who you think Jesus really is? Have you decided yet which side you are on? The short passage that Keagan read ended with this statement, “[T]he people were divided because of Jesus.”

There are really only two options. 

With Him or against Him. 
For Him or opposed to Him.
Believe in Him or disbelieve.
Follow Him or leave.

At the end of the last chapter, some of those who had been following Him decided to cut out. The options seemed to be that Jesus was either bonkers or bread. And they decided that that Jesus must be bonkers.

Anybody Who thinks they are as important as bread must be “cuckoo for coco-puffs.” And Jesus insisted that He was the Bread of Life.  (See what I mean about Jesus making everything about Himself?) You see that there is no middle ground. 

And John chapter 7 tells the story of how more and more people were divided over Jesus at the feast. This story takes place around about one week–just before, during, and at the end of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. 

Let’s get into it together. John chapter 7, verse 1.

“After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to him, ‘You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.’ For even his own brothers did not believe in him” (vv.1-5). Let’s stop there for a second.

So Jesus has been hanging around up North because the people in the South want to kill Him.

Does that mean that Jesus is scared? There’s a lot of fear in chapter 7, but I don’t think it’s Jesus that shows the most fear here. Jesus is apparently being strategic.

By they way, do you remember why they want to kill Jesus? He’s kind of seen as a public enemy by the Jewish Religious Authorities. Remember what His crime in Jerusalem was last time? It wasn’t because He cleaned out the temple with whip or knocked over the tables of commerce.

It was because Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and then said that He did it because His Father is always working on the Sabbath, and so does He. Remember that? John chapter 5. That’s why they want Him dead.

And He doesn’t want to be dead just yet, so He’s been hanging around in the North. But His half-brothers try to egg Him on to going down to the Feast of Tabernacles.

The Festival of Shelters or the Festival of Booths was one of three biggest national annual celebrations centered in Jerusalem each year. Everybody hit town and threw a gigantic party. The Feast of Tabernacles came at the end of the harvest. So it was kind of like our Thanksgiving, but it was huge. And everybody moved out of their homes for a whole week and lived in tents. This is the like the Great Israelite Camping Extravaganza. Everybody gets out their tent or builds one out of branches and leaves and stuff and remembers what it was like to live in tents for 40 years when they were rescued from Egypt and brought safely to the Promised Land. And it was full of rejoicing. It was a gigantic camping party for the whole nation!

And Jesus’ half-brothers are like, “Hey, Jesus! You like to make everything about yourself. You should make this about yourself. You should go to Town and do some of your miracles. You don’t get a name for yourself in Nazareth, in Pinchy. You go to Washington D.C. You go to New York City. You got London. You go to Jerusalem. How about it?”

Notice that verse 5 says that they did not believe. Either they had never seen the miracles themselves or they didn’t believe what the signs were pointing to. Either way, they did not believe. Not yet anyway. So they’re trying to push Him out into the world and take center stage. And Jesus says, “Not yet.” Look at verse 6.

“Therefore Jesus told them, ‘The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.’ Having said this, he stayed in Galilee” (vv.6-9).

Notice that Jesus has perfect timing. He knows that there will be a time to go to Jerusalem. There will be a time to get in front of everyone. It just wasn’t that day. We’re going to see this idea of perfect timing, of Jesus’ time, Jesus’ hour not yet coming and then coming again and again in the Gospel of John.

What’s interesting is that soon after they all leave, Jesus does go to the Feast. Look at verse 10.

“However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. [Jesus is being strategic. He’s not going to make a miraculous splash. Though He is going to make a splash. V.11] Now at the Feast [There’s our sermon title.] the Jews were watching for him and asking, ‘Where is that man?’ Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, ‘He is a good man.’ Others replied, ‘No, he deceives the people.’ But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews” (vv.10-13).

Jesus is there among them, quietly. Not like the Triumphal Entry. He’s not riding the donkey and with the palm branches being laid before Him. He’s got His hood up, and He’s just moving quietly through the crowd. I get the sense that He’s left His disciples behind. Or He’s asked a few of them come with Him quietly. 

He’s listening to the chatter. Everybody’s talking about Him. And they are divided. Is He good or a deceiver? And nobody is making big speeches in support Him because they are afraid of the authorities–the ones who are out for His blood. People are afraid of being canceled.

And, about halfway through the week, Jesus decides it’s now time to speak up. V.14

“Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. [I wonder what that was like? It was clearly amazing. And it threw the religious leaders into a tizzy. V.15] The Jews were amazed and asked, ‘How did this man get such learning without having studied?’ [He never followed another rabbi.] Jesus answered, ‘My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?’” (vv.14-19).

He doesn’t play around, does He? Neither do the Jews. They are locked in a conflict here. And there is no middle ground. They are like, “Where did you get this teaching?” And Jesus is like, “From God.”

Notice how many times He says, “not my own” and how many times He says, “from him who sent me.”

‘My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. [That’s God the Father!] If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.”

Remember Who Jesus is claiming to be? He’s claiming to be God’s Son. The monogenays. The Son of God and God the Son. He is claiming to be God but not God on His Own, but God from God. Very God of very God. Have you decided yet if that’s Who He really is?
Notice the promise in verse 17. “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” 

“Whether or not I am who I claim to be.” If you want to know if Jesus is the real deal, commit yourself to doing God’s will no matter what it turns out to be. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Start there. If you truly commit yourself to following the evidence wherever it leads, you will see that Jesus is Who He said He is. 

These people were not doing that. Instead of being committed to the truth, they were trying to kill the Truth. “Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?’” (v.19).

They think He’s bonkers or worse. V.20

“‘You are demon-possessed,’ the crowd answered. ‘Who is trying to kill you?’ [Jesus say, “Oh, how soon we forget! V.21] Jesus said to them, ‘I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. [What was the miracle? It’s the one from chapter 5 that they are so obsessed with. He healed a man on the Sabbath. V.22] Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.’”

Do you see what He’s saying?

I’ve got three points of application this morning “at the feast,” and this is the first one.


Jesus says, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make right judgment.” They were so focused on how bad it looked that He had healed a man “on the wrong day” that they didn’t think about what that actually meant.

Jesus says, “Yeah, it was a Sabbath. So what? You will circumcise a boy on the Sabbath if it falls on eighth day from when he was born, and that’s cutting something off of him. I gave someone complete healing on the Sabbath.”

Or as He said elsewhere, “The Sabbath was made humans, not humans made for the Sabbath. So maybe just maybe I am the Lord of the Sabbath?!” 

Look deeper. Commit to the fear of the Lord. Choose to do God’s will (v.17). Look deeper into the claims of Jesus, and you will be astonished by what you find.

I know that most of here are committed Christians. We’ve already made our big decision about this. Praise God! I hope this is just encouragement for you to keep on going in your faith. But others among us may have been drug here by someone else. A spouse. A parent. A boyfriend or girlfriend. Even a child. Or maybe you’re here because you want to be, but you’re not yet sure about Jesus. 

If that’s you, I’m so glad you’re here.  Look deeper. If you have questions, bring them. That’s why we’re here. And, it’s okay if you are not there yet. But I challenge you to not stop in your search. Look deeper. Look beyond just mere appearances. Because the reality is that things are often different from what they at first seem.

Now, it’s almost funny this stuff about whether or not they are trying to kill Him. Jesus knows that they want to kill Him. Some of them don’t know that they want to kill Him. But lots of other people do know that they want to kill Him. And they are confused why nobody is killing Him! Look at verse 25.

“At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, ‘Isn't this the man they are trying to kill? Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Christ? 

But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from’” (vv.25-27). 

The crowd is just buzzing! “Hmm. Jesus is still alive. Does that mean the authorities think He is the Messiah? Can’t be.” These particular folks have gotten the idea that the Messiah is just going to burst on the scene, out of nowhere. And they think they know all about Jesus. He’s from Nazareth.

And when Jesus hears that, He gets loud. Look at verse 28.

“Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts [nobody’s touching Him], cried out [LOUD], ‘Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own [there He goes again], but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.’ At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come” (vv.28-30).

Jesus is a broken record, isn’t He? He’s a little sarcastic. “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from.” NOT! They don’t really know where He’s from. He’s from His Father. He is the Word of God. Right? This is living out the Prologue of John’s Gospel. This is John chapter 1 stuff:

“The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.... The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (Jn. 1:5-11 NIVO).

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14 NIVO). 

And what is the Greek word for “made His dwelling?” in John 1:14? It’s the word we get the word “tabernacle” from! Jesus came to camp among us.

No wonder He makes everything about Himself. Everything is about Him! Even this festival. 

The Jews realize that He’s claiming once again to be God’s Son, sent by God, so they try to arrest Him. But they fail. Verse 30 says “no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come.” It’s coming. His time is coming. But it is not yet here. So He escapes their grasp once more.

And some people listening come to faith. They look deeper and they see where the signs are pointing. V.31

“Still, many in the crowd put their faith in him. They said, ‘When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?’”

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (Jn. 1:12 NIVO).

Oh, and that burnt the jealousy of the Jewish leaders. Verse 32.

“The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. [And when the get to Him, they are arrested by Him. He confronts them with these words. V.33] Jesus said, ‘I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.’” (vv.32-34).

We know what He’s talking about. It’s obvious to us who know the rest of the story, but it was mysterious to them. V.35

“The Jews said to one another, ‘Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? What did he mean when he said, 'You will look for me, but you will not find me,' and 'Where I am, you cannot come'?’” (vv.35-36).

They’re just scratching their heads. They think that Jesus is going to go abroad. They don’t realize that He’s saying He’s going to go to heaven. They don’t understand where He’s come from so they don’t understand where He’s going. So they walk away in a daze.

And the comes the last day of the feast. At first, He wasn’t going to go. The timing wasn’t right.
Then, He went quietly. And then the time was right to teach and to argue. And now it’s time to issue His invitation. It’s time for Jesus to get as loud as He ever gets.

Every day of the feast, a golden flagon (a huge pitcher) was filled with clear, pure water from the pool of Siloam and was carried in a procession led by the High Priest back to the temple.  

It was called “Simchat Beit Hashoavah,” “The Joy of Drawing Water.”

Listen to one scholar's description of this procession:

“As the procession approached the watergate on the south side of the inner court three blasts from the shofar–a trumpet connected with joyful occasions–were sounded. While the pilgrims watched, the priests processed around the altar with the flagon, the temple choir singing [in progression Psalms 113-118]. When the choir reached Psalm 118, every male pilgrim shook a lulav (willow and myrtle twigs tied with a palm) in his right hand, while his left raised a piece of citrus fruit (a sign of the ingathered harvest), and all cried, ‘Give thanks to the Lord!’  three times. The water was offered to God at the time of the morning sacrifice. ... These ceremonies of the Feast of Tabernacles were related in Jewish thought both to the Lord's provision of water in the desert and to the Lord's pouring out of the Spirit in the last days" (Carson, 322).

And I think on the last day, the priest went around the altar seven times and the crowd got loud and louder before they poured out the water! The cheering must have been deafening.

Water was incredibly important to the Jewish people and was never celebrated more than at this Feast.

And guess what Jesus is now going to do?

He’s going to make it all about Himself. 

Look at verse 37. “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified” (vv.37-39).


He’s inviting you and me to come to Him. He’s SHOUTING out His invitation.

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.”

It’s just like what He said to the woman at the well, isn’t it? But He’s not in Samaria now. He’s in Jerusalem. He’s on CNN and FoxNews and the BBC and Al-Jezeera. And He’s saying it loudly so that everyone can here. "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.”

You see how He’s making his Feast all about Him? That’s because it’s all about Him. Every eye in the temple has turned toward Him at this moment. Everything stops. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was at the moment when everybody was going ballistic about the water that He said. “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink!”  [He’s not scared, is He?]

And He doesn’t say, “Come to God and drink.” He says, “Come to ME and drink.” And verse 38 makes it clear that the drinking of Jesus as water is another metaphor for true faith. Just like eating the flesh and drinking the blood was in the last chapter.

It’s totally taking in Jesus. 
It’s finding your satisfaction in Christ.
It’s being fully engaged with Jesus. 

True faith treats Jesus like He’s the water we need to live. 

Because He is the water we need to live. He’s the only thing that will quench our spiritual thirst forever. If we believe in Him, then we get the Holy Spirit to life and flow inside of us. Look at verse 38 and 39 again. “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit...”

This is amazing. You and I have this water flowing in us right now if we have come to believe in Jesus. That Spirit is doing this right here, right now in this very room in the hearts of every true believer in Jesus. The Spirit had not yet been poured out at Pentecost. The Third Person of the Trinity will not come in all of that fullness until after the Cross and the Empty Tomb and the Ascension.

But we live on the other side of all of that! We have the Spirit living in and flowing in us in this exact way that Jesus is promising in verse 38. He has come and quenching our spiritual thirst and will do so forever and ever and ever. For those who believe in Jesus and come to Him.

Come to Jesus.

You have to decide for yourself. That’s the last third and last point today.


Look deeper into who Jesus really is. Hear His invitation to believe in and drink Him up. And then decide for yourself. I can’t make that decision for you. Nobody can. Everybody has to come to that decision for themselves.

These folks listening to Jesus were divided. Some were impressed. Others were not. Look at verse 40.

“On hearing his words, some of the people said, ‘Surely this man is the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘He is the Christ.’ [I believe He’s both!] Still others asked, ‘How can the Christ come from Galilee?

Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David's family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?’ Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.”

Look deeper! It turns out if you look into it that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Was from David’s Royal family. But was also from Galilee. He’s both and all of that. And so much more. But you have to decide for yourself.

The people were divided because of Jesus. V.44

“Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, ‘Why didn't you bring him in?’ 

‘No one ever spoke the way this man does,’ the guards declared. [We didn’t know what to do! He had more power in His words than you and yours.] 

‘You mean he has deceived you also?’ the Pharisees retorted. ‘Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law–there is a curse on them.’

[Hmm. Maybe some of the Pharisees have believed. Verse 50.] 

Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier [Nick at Night] and who was one of their own number, asked, ‘Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?’ They replied, ‘Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee” (vv.44-52).

Have you made up your mind yet about Who you think Jesus really is? You have to decide for yourself what you will make of Jesus. Nicodemus is beginning to speak up. He had come to Jesus at secretly at night. He started out in the dark. But it looks like he might be coming into the light. What about you?

Yes, Jesus has a way of making everything about Him.

But I believe that’s because everything is about Him. 


Messages in this Series

01. "That You May Believe" - John 20:30-31
02. "In The Beginning Was the Word" - John 1:1-18
03. "John's Testimony" - John 1:19-34
04. "Come and See" - John 1:35-51
05. "The First of His Miraculous Signs" - John 2:1-11
06. "This Temple" - John 2:12-25
07. "You Must Be Born Again" - John 3:1-15
08. "God So Loved The World" - John 3:16-21
09. "Above All" - John 3:22-36
10. "Living Water" - John 4:1-26
11. "Ripe for the Harvest" - John 4:27-42
12. "Your Son Will Live" - John 4:43-54
13. "Pick Up Your Mat and Walk" - John 5:1-18
14. "To Your Amazement" - John 5:19-30
15. "Testimony About Me" - John 5:31-47
Christmas Eve Bonus: "The Astonishing Gift" - John 3:16 Again
Christmas Eve Bonus: "We Have Seen His Glory" - John 1:1-18 Again
16. "Enough Bread" - John 6:1-15
17. "You Are Looking for Me" - John 6:16-36
18. "I Am the Bread of Life" - John 6:35-71
Vision Meeting Bonus: "As I Have Loved You" - John 13:34-35