A Guide to Reading the Gospel of John (10) Day Ten
[CORRECTION: I have learned finally that I should not make absolute statements when I am teaching the Bible if I am not certain that I am correct. 🙂 My dear friend Gary Parrett just reminded me that it was not only the feeding of the 5000 that is included in all four Gospels; the greatest miracle of all — the resurrection of Jesus Christ — is in all four, as are other miracles of healing. I thank God for good friends who will correct me, and also for the special pleasure of studying the Bible together, and not just alone. Oh yes, another great miracle is that God Himself came to earth as a man! It’s in all the Gospels.]
The Feast of Tabernacles (John chapters 7 and 8)
Both chapters 7 and 8 of John speak of events that happened during the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast took place in late September and October, when all the harvests had been safely gathered in.
The festival lasted eight days, and the last day was a “solemn assembly.” When the people gave thanks to God for their harvest, they also thanked Him for the gift of rain that provided water for their crops to grow. Throughout the feast, people were reminded of events in the Old Testament where God had promised water. One example was Ezekiel’s vision of water coming from beneath the altar in the temple, becoming a river of life.
There is much symbolism in these chapters. Jesus fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah, including the 3 important ones: I am the living Bread. I am the Water of life. I am the Light of the world. The great themes of the Prologue of John continue to be explained throughout the book, showing that Jesus brings life and light to the world.
Jesus faces great opposition. (John 7:1-13)
The Jewish leaders were seeking to kill Jesus; the crowds were questioning His authority; even His brothers (or “cousins” in some translations) did not believe in Him.
Jesus tells His brothers that the time has not come for Him to go up to the feast, but “your time is always here.” But after His brothers had gone up to the feast, Jesus also goes. He is speaking of two kinds of time: Kronos (or chronos) is chronological time, or sequential time which can be measured by a clock and a calendar. We can set our own time according to our wishes and plans. Kairos is an opportune moment, a special time in salvation history. It signifies a life led by God. Jesus allows God not only to tell Him what to do, but also to tell Him when to do it.
How do these two concepts of time work in your life? Are you aware of God’s kairos times?
Jesus challenges the Jewish religious leaders. (John 7:14-36)
Read through this section and notice that Jesus is the one doing the attacking! He attacks the religious leaders. He is not a victim. He is the Lord Himself come to the world to destroy the works and the kingdom of the devil, and to establish His Kingdom — the Kingdom of God — to bring light and life to the world.
How does Jesus set the conversation in motion? John 7:16
The religious leaders do what many people in power do when they are challenged. They say that Jesus is not qualified. Professionalism is their only defense — John 7:15. This man has never studied! (Some would say, “This man is only a lay person, with no theological training! How could he be a teacher?”) They wanted truth that has its source in human credentials; Jesus insists that He Himself is the source of truth.
Notice how Jesus continues to press the issue of authenticity. John 7:17 — If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on My own authority. Obedience opens the door to understanding God’s truth.
Do you see evidences of this professionalism, or clericalism, in the Church today? If you are a layperson, are you a passive observer? Or are you a Christ scholar (as George MacDonald says, contending that all Christians should have the goal of knowing their Bible thoroughly and knowing Jesus Christ as the joy of their lives)? Some people contend that professionalism is able to prevail in the Church because ordinary Christians do not strive to be “Christ scholars.” What do you think?
Yet many people believed in Jesus because of His signs and wonders.
Rivers of Living Water (John 7:37-39)
The 8th and last day of the feast was a day of waiting with anticipation. On each of the previous days the crowds would ceremoniously walk to the fountain that supplied the Pool of Siloam where the priest would fill a golden vase from the water while the choir sang verses from Isaiah 12 (such as . . . with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation). Then they would pour the water over the altar. On the 8th day, the faithful expected a fountain of running water to burst open in the Temple courts.
The most natural thing for Jesus to do was to invite all who were thirsty to come to Him and drink. Compare Jesus’ promise to the woman at the well, in John 4:14, with the resulting rivers of living water flowing out of the believer’s heart! (John 7:38)
This was a description of the work of the Holy Spirit! (John 7:39) Jesus was speaking of the Spirit who would descend upon God’s people on the day of Pentecost.
As you study this, take time to ponder and reflect. Am I “drawing water” daily from the wells of salvation within me? How am I doing it?
Is the Holy Spirit working in my life now, so that rivers of living water are flowing out from my inner being to heal and bring life to the world around me?
Before leaving chapter 7, take note of the change that has taken place in Nicodemus (we first met him in John 3).
The symbolism in John 7 is water. The symbolism in John 8 is light. The first section of John 8 reveals how Jesus brought light to a woman in darkness.
The Woman Caught In Adultery (John 8:1-11)
Your Bible may have an editorial note stating that this section is not included in the earliest manuscripts. But you should make the decision. Look at the context and decide for yourself! Jesus has been teaching about new life in the Spirit, and how He Himself is the light of the world. The very next statement Jesus makes (John 8:12) is that He is the Light of the world! So what should we do? Teach it and preach it!
The Mosaic law taught that she should be stoned. The Scribes and Pharisees tried to trick Jesus by asking Him what He would do. He simply wrote something in the dirt and then told the men that anyone without sin should cast the first stone. They all departed, beginning with the oldest (he had more time to sin than the others).
This story reveals how Jesus changes darkness into light, how He restores a person who sins. Three elements are necessary:
- Grace (Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? . . . Neither do I condemn you.)
- Truth (Go, and from now on sin no more.)
- Hope (She is able to begin a new life.)
How do you see these three elements working in this woman’s life, or in the lives of those who unable to recover from sin and failures?
The Light of the World (John 8:12-30)
The second “I AM” in John’s Gospel is found here. Jesus is fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 9:2 that the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Jesus is that Great Light.
Remember that “darkness” in the Gospel of John is not only night but also the forces of evil that oppose God and seek to destroy His people. To choose light is to be ruled by love and not by fear.
Jesus warns the Jewish leaders with one of His most direct and radical statements about Himself — John 8:24 — I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am He you will die in your sins!
Jesus concludes this section with a very simple statement that has powerful results: And He who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him . . . many believed in Him! (John 8:29-30)
Why do you think many people believed in Jesus because of this simple statement?
The Truth Will Set You Free (John 8:31-59)
Jesus gives the one condition that makes us His disciples. (John 8:31-32)
What does it mean to abide in Jesus’ Word? (How do you abide in Jesus’ Word?) Note that the word “abide” means to “stay,” to make one’s home in the Word. It implies regularity, a continuing action, a certain mindset.
Reading through Psalm 119 will help you understand more clearly the meaning of abiding in Jesus’ Word.
What is the result of abiding in Jesus’ Word? Share with others some of the changes in your life that have resulted from abiding in Jesus’ Word.
The language of chapter 8, both of Jesus and the Pharisees and Scribes, is very harsh and strong. They continue to ask Jesus who He is, and His answer causes them to make a firm decision that He must die. Before Abraham was, I AM. From this point on, Jesus must set His face towards Jerusalem and the cross.