“Soar Like Eagles” The Gospel of John #9 -Feast, Famine, and Living Water! John 7:1-52

15 Mar

In chapter 7, we come to a point in John’s Gospel when the opposition to our Lord becomes more intense and more broad-based. Up till now, John has not allowed the opponents of our Lord to “have the floor” to articulate their point of view and carry on a debate with Jesus. Previously, John focused on our Lord’s response to His opponents, without fully conveying their arguments.

Now, they have their chance, and so does our Lord, not only to refute the error of His opponents, but also to introduce some very important new subject matter:

Background:  The Feast of Tabernacles

The events of chapter 7 take place in the context of the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. If we measure the verses, this period of controversy represents the longest single section of this gospel account. It describes the parallel development of belief and unbelief among the hearers of Jesus and the resultant clash of these two opposing forces.

Chapter 7 opens with Jesus in Galilee as the time approaches for the Feast of Booths. Although this feast is not as familiar as the Passover, it had great importance to the Jews in Jesus’ day. Also called the Feast of “Ingatherings” or “Tabernacles,” the Feast of Booths was one of the three great annual Jewish feasts. It took place around mid-October, about six months after Passover.

Booths (i.e., tabernacles) were erected all over the city, where families would eat and sleep as a reminder of their wilderness dwellings. The candelabra and a parade of torches reminded them of the pillar of fire that led them by night. Each day the priests would carry water from Pool of Siloam and pour it out from a golden vessel. reminding the Jews of the miraculous provision of water from the rock.

It was to be observed by every grown Israelite male in Jerusalem on the 15th day of the 7th month (our October). The feast lasted eight days. Following the Feast of Trumpets and the solemn Day of Atonement, Tabernacles was a festive time for the people.

Booths sprung up everywhere…Just imagine the scene of a father and his sons: “Daddy, why are we moving out of the house for seven days? “Son, we’re going to live in a booth (tent). And 1 want to tell you a story that happened a long time ago…..”


John captures the last six months of Jesus’ itinerant ministry with a single verse (7:1), “After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life.”

(2) “But  when the Jewish  Feast  of Tabernacles was near, (3) Jesus’ brothers said to him, “You ought  to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. (4) No one who wants to become a public figure acts  in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world. (5) For even his own brothers did not believe in him.”

Mary bore other children, with Joseph as their father: Matthew 13::55-56: “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? (56) Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”

“Therefore Jesus told them, “The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. {7} The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. {8} You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come. {9} Having said this, he stayed in Galilee. However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.” 10  However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.


The debate began before Jesus even arrived at the city, and it centered an His character:

“{11} Now at the Feat the Jews were watching for him and asking, “Where is that man?” {12} Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” {13} But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews.”

The crowds are as eager as the Sanhedrin to see Jesus. Some were for him, others against. This they can agree on, however: Whenever Jesus turns up, it makes for an exciting show. The crowds debate in a whisper, fearing what the Sanhedrin might do to any of Jesus’ supporters. Their plot to kill Jesus is not yet public (Jn 7:20), but their desire is obvious to those who live in Jerusalem (Jn 7:25).

About the third or fourth day of the feast, Jesus finally arrives. The leaders are surely surprised that he has actually shown up. More surprising still is Jesus’ extraordinary teaching. All the more remarkable, since he has no degree. Their subtle suggestion is that you can’t really trust a self-taught man since he has no guides to insure his orthodoxy. Jesus counters by saying, “I’m not self-taught. God has been my guide!” There is no comparison between the teaching of God and the erudition of men.


  1. The Jewish leaders.

These were the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the chief priests who lived in Jerusalem and were attached to the temple ministry. The Pharisees and Sadducees differed in theology, but were together in their opposition to Jesus. The exceptions would be Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (19:38-42).

They ultimately would unite in their goal to eliminate Jesus (vs. 30, 32). But this should not surprise us. When a man’s ideals clash with those of Christ, either he must submit or he must seek to destroy him.

  1. The ‘People’ (John 7:12 (NIV) 12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.”

John 7:20 (NIV) 20  “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”

John 7:31-32 (NIV) 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?” 32  The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.

  1. The Jews who lived in Jerusalem (vs. 25).

“Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. {15} The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?” {16} Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. {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. {18} 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. {19} Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?””

Jesus could very well have walked straight into a trap here.  He might have said:  “I need no teacher; I am self-taught; I got my teaching and my wisdom from no one but myself.”  But, instead, he said in effect:  “You ask who was my teacher?  You ask what authority I produce for my exposition of scripture?  My authority is God.”  Jesus claimed to be God-taught.  It is in fact a claim he makes again and again.  “I have not spoken on my own authority.  The Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak”  (John 12:49).  “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority” (John 14:10).

Jesus goes on to lay down a truth.  Only the man who does God’s will can truly understand His teaching.  That is not a theological but a universal truth.  We learn by doing.  A doctor might learn the technique of surgery from textbooks.  He might know the theory of every possible operation.  But that would not make him a surgeon; he has to learn by doing.  A man might learn the way in which an automobile engine works; in theory he might be able to carry out every possible repair and adjustment; but that would not make him an engineer; he has to learn by doing.

Character and doctrine go together, of course. It would be foolish to trust the teachings of a liar. The Jews were amazed at what He taught because He did not have the credentials from their approved rabbinical schools. And since He lacked these credentials, His enemies said that His teachings were nothing but private opinions and not worth much.

Jesus assured His listeners that anyone who wanted to do the Father’s will would be able to determine whether or not Jesus’ teachings were true (7:16-19): “Jesus therefore answered them, and said, ‘My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself….”‘

On this public appearance, His teaching took the form of a paradox, asserting both authority (14) and subordination (16), offering a pragmatic test (1719), and issuing in an argument (21-24).

Jesus clearly stated that His doctrine came from the Father. He had already made it clear that He and the Father were one in the works He performed (5:17) and in the judgment that He executed (5:30). Jesus was always conscious that He had come on divine mission to bring a divine message.

Verse 17 is one of the many plain, yet profound, utterances of the Savior. Being a follower of God is more than mere knowledge of what the scriptures say. There must be that surrender of one’s stubborn will to the point where we desire to do God’s will. It is a disposition to do God’s will.

The visitors to the city entered the discussion beginning in verse 20. Jesus had boldly announced that the leaders wanted to kill Him because He had violated the Sabbath and claimed to be God (5:10-18). And, realize, that this occurred a year ago!

“”You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?” {21} Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. {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. {23} 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? {24} Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.””

Jesus finishes by telling them to try to see below the surface of things and to judge fairly.  If they do, they will not be able any longer to accuse him of breaking the law.

Nevertheless, Jesus persisted in His charge against them and went on to mention His healing of the lame man, the event which had first made the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem want to kill Him (7:21-24).

The residents of Jerusalem entered the conversation: “At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? {26} Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Christ ? {27} But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.””

“Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, {29} but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” {30} At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come.”

“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?” {32} The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. {33} Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. {34} You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” {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? {36} 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’?””

The Pharisees and Sadducees don’t usually team up (cf. Acts 23:6-8). But here they have a common enemy. They send their guards to arrest Jesus. But they couldn’t get past the force of his teaching.

They are struck with his talk about the ascension (vv. 33-34). Unlike Christians, they have no reference point to understand this. All they can think of is that Jesus will slip away into the diaspora of the Hellenistic world. If Jesus runs away into the far reaches of Gentile territory, he will be safe from the attacks of the Sanhedrin. But as far as the diaspora is from Jerusalem, so far are they from understanding what Jesus means. Yet even this derision of Jesus is prophetic of the victorious spread of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus returns their mockery tit for tat. There will come a time when they will turn to look for Jesus only to find that he is gone (v. 34).

The leaders’ worst fears were being realized as more and more people began to believe in Jesus (7:31).

When the Pharisees heard people muttering about their growing faith, they had the temple guards sent to apprehend Jesus (7:32). Again, they were unable to arrest Jesus until the time came when He was ready–and that was still some time away (7:33-36).


On the last day of the feast, Jesus stood up again and publicly made His claims to be the Messiah. On this occasion He spoke of Himself as the source of living water. This would have been on the eighth day, a very special day on which the priests would take the spotlight and proclaim the chant of Psalm 118:25: “O Lord, save us; O Lord, grant us success.”

For the past seven days a priest has gone to the pool of Siloam and filled up a golden pitcher with water. The crowds have followed as he carried it to the temple. They have watched as he poured this libation offering into a bowl which drains into the base of the altar. This was done while reciting Isaiah 12:3, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

The ceremony remembers God’s divine provision of water from a rock in the wilderness. Playing off this public celebration, Jesus stands and shouts about living water.

With this joyous celebration: in progress, Jesus said, “If any man is. thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water'” (7:37, 38).

It has been pointed out that this “great day,” the 21st of the seventh month, is the same date on which the prophet Haggai made a special prediction about the temple (Haggai 2: 1-9).

While the ultimate fulfillment must await the return of Christ to this earth, certainly there was a partial fulfillment when Jesus came to the temple. (Haggai 2:6-7 is quoted in Hebrews 12:26-29 as applying to the return of the Lord).

Equally important is what John wrote about Jesus at this point: “But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (7:39).

John offers this explanation in the text, lest we be confused. Jesus was referring to the experience of Israel recorded in Exodus 17:1-7. That water was but a picture of the Spirit of God.

“On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” {41} Others said, “He is the Christ.” Still others asked, “How can the Christ come from Galilee? {42} Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” {43} Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. {44} Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. {45} Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” {46} “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards declared. {47} “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. {48} “Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? {49} No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law–there is a curse on them.””


In American history, the Battle of the Alamo stands as a prime example of bold decisiveness. In 1836 a band of fewer than two hundred men defended a little mission in San Antonio, Texas, against six thousand Mexican troops led by General Santa Anna.

For two weeks they held the Alamo against impossible odds. Then, on March 5, the night before what would surely be the final assault, William Barrett Travis, the commander of the Texans, called a meeting of his men.

Telling them that he knew the invaders would break through the walls the next day, he took his sword and drew a line in the dirt. He invited everyone who wanted to stay and defend the Alamo to step across the line.

One by one they did. Jim Bowie, who was sick on a pallet, asked to be carried across the line. Of 184 men, only one refused to step across the line. The next day all the defenders of the Alamo died in battle. That day there was no standing on the line! A decision had to be made.


Posted by on March 15, 2017 in Gospel of John


3 responses to ““Soar Like Eagles” The Gospel of John #9 -Feast, Famine, and Living Water! John 7:1-52

  1. Terry Davenport

    March 15, 2017 at 10:23 am

    This is good. TJ

    Sent from my iPad



  2. David W. Hubbard

    March 21, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    A very good explanation of the growing animosity between the Son of God and the religious leaders who refused to believe in him. David Hubbard


    • Gary Davenport

      April 13, 2017 at 6:30 pm

      Terry and I told elders this Wednesday that we will be moving to Durant, Oklahoma on May 7. Wanted you to know it…come visit!



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