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Gaps In Understanding

Andy Yung

John 7:1-26 NIV

After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works 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. (John 7:1-5)

The Feast of Tabernacles, also called Sukkoth, was a week long celebration. Families would camp in temporary shelters (Leviticus 23:40) to remember God’s faithfulness to Israel while they were in the wilderness for 40 years.

Understanding Jesus’ Purpose

Jesus’ brothers still hadn’t believed in Jesus at this point. They suggested that Jesus should leave Galilee and go to Judea, the centre of Judaism, to show his miracles. They even sounded like they were taunting him, saying that he “acts in secret” even though he wanted to “become a public figure”. They thought that he was ambitious, yet afraid or sneaky.

Back then, the Jews believed that the Messiah would save them from the Romans by leading them in a military coup. To believe in Jesus would require a paradigm shift from their deeply entrenched notion of God’s purpose for the Messiah.

There’s a gap in understanding, between what people thought was Jesus’ motives and purpose, and what he really came to do. He wasn’t ambitious or self-seeking, instead he was sacrificial. He didn’t come to reign as a physical king, but to die as a humble servant.

Understanding God’s Timing

Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” (John 7:6-8)

Jesus replied to his brothers that they could and should go to the Festival; for any time would do for them. As for him, it wasn’t his time yet. God had a specific timing for His plan to be carried out, for Jesus to be handed over and crucified. Jesus would be going to testify against Judea and they would hate him for that.

God doesn’t only have a plan and timing for Jesus. He has the same for us. We need to move according to God’s timing.

Understanding Light & Darkness

Jesus said, “… (the world) hates me because I testify that its works are evil”. Indeed, throughout his ministry, Jesus never minced his words when he preached against sin and called people to righteousness.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. (John 1:9-10 NIV)

Jesus came to give light to the world, to turn us from darkness to the path of eternal salvation. He shows us the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, so that we can recognise the difference between what the world does and what God expects. But sadly, many in the world did not (and still do not) recognise Jesus. Worse than that, many hate him too.

God’s Words Narrow The Gap

After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee. However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?” 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 leaders. Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?” (John 7:9-15)

Jesus did however go to the Festival later, in secret.

There were already whispers within the community about Jesus; they thought Jesus was either a good man or a cheat. The people were divided because they had yet to hear God’s words from Jesus. But halfway through the festival, Jesus went to the temple courts to preach in public. When the people heard God’s words, they were amazed! Hearts were moved, because Jesus’ words were different from their religious leaders’. The gaps in their belief narrowed after listening to Jesus.

Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory 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?” (John 7:16-19)

Jesus’ said that his teachings come from God. If we listen to Jesus’ words faithfully, our understanding of Jesus and God will grow.

Jesus also pointed out the hypocrisy of those who taught to gain personal glory. These were the religious authorities (the Pharisees and Sadducees) back then. Who are the hypocrites that teach for their personal glory nowadays? How do they use their own teachings instead of God’s?

Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? (John 7:26 NIV)

The Jews were looking to the religious authorities for confirmation if Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Who do we turn to for that? We need to form our own conclusions and develop our own convictions by studying God’s words intently.

There are so many gaps in our understanding of God. We don’t understand His plans, His timing and His righteousness. But we can narrow the gaps in our understanding by studying the Bible.

Andy Yung

Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit. Andy joined the Central Christian Church in 1990.

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