THE OPPOSITION TO THE SON OF GOD CONTINUES
For my people have committed two crimes: they have abandoned me, the fountain of living water, and dug water-tanks for themselves, cracked water-tanks that hold no water.
When therefore the servants of the Chief Priests and Scribes saw these things, and heard from Jesus, ‘Whosoever is athirst, let him come to Me and drink’; they perceived that this was not a mere man like themselves, but that this was He who gave water to the saints, and that it was He who was announced by the prophet Isaiah. For He was truly the splendor of the light, and the Word of God. And thus as a river from the fountain He gave drink also of old to Paradise; but now to all men He gives the same gift of the Spirit, and says, ‘If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink. Whosoever believeth on Me, as said the Scripture, rivers of living water shall flow out of his belly’. This was not for man to say, but for the living God, Who truly vouchsafes life, and gives the Holy Spirit.
St.Athanasius, Letters 44 [teaching on John 6:37-38]
Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty; though you have no money, come! …. Pay attention, come to me; listen, and you will live.
He brought me back to the entrance of the Temple, where a stream flowed eastwards from under the Temple threshold, for the Temple faced east. The water flowed from under the right side of the Temple, south of the altar. […]. …it was now a river which I could not cross; the stream had swollen and was now deep water, a river impossible to cross. [..]. Along the river, on either bank, will grow every kind of fruit tree with leaves that never wither and fruit that never fails; they will bear new fruit every month, because this water comes from the sanctuary. And their fruit will be good to eat and the leaves medicinal.
Ezekiel’s vision 14 years after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in Ezekiel 47:1-12
Then the angel showed me the River of Life, rising from the throne of God and of the Lamb and flowing crystal-clear. Down the middle of the city street, on either bank of the river were [was] the trees [tree] of life, which bears twelve crops of fruit a year, one in each month, and the leaves of which are the cure of the nations.
John’s vision in Revelation 22:1-2 (= literal word which is not plural in the Greek text)
Jesus in JUDEA –JERUSALEM (Fall)
III. OPPOSITION IN JERUSALEM
A. Feast of Tabernacles: Jesus leaves the Galilee to travel to Jerusalem
B. The Middle of the Feast
C. The Last Day of the Feast
D. After the Feast
1. The Adulteress
2. The Light of the World discourse – #2 “I AM the Light of the World“
3. SIGN #5 Healing of the man born blind
4. The Good Shepherd discourse – # 3 “I AM the Door of the sheep“; # 4 “I AM the Good shepherd
In chapter 6 there were three stumbling blocks which prevented many Jews from coming to Christ:
- The desire for a “political” Messiah to ease their earthly sufferings
- The inability to accept the deity of Jesus, God made man
- The refusal to believe in the Real Presence of Christ, the Living Bread come down from heaven.
These are the same 3 stumbling blocks that prevent many people from coming to Christ today.
God the Son humbled Himself in becoming a man and laid down His life as a willing sacrifice that we might live. He calls on us to humble ourselves and to Love one another as I have loved you [John 15:12]. We must also see ourselves as living sacrifices, ready to lay down our lives for love [Romans 12:1]. The Eucharist is the most profound expression of this love, and the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is the highest expression of God’s mercy and love for us. This is the central message of the “good news,” which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Chapter 5 introduced the beginning of the opposition to the Son of God, first in the Jerusalem [chapter 5] and next in the Galilee [chapter 6]. In chapter 7 the opposition continues and intensifies.
Please read Chapter 7:1-13 Before the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem
1After this Jesus traveled round Galilee, he could not travel round Judaea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him.2As the Jewish feast of Shelters drew near,3his brothers said to him, ‘Leave this palace and go to Judaea, so that your disciples, too, can see the works you are doing;4no one who wants to be publicly known acts in secret; if this is what you are doing, you should reveal yourself to the world.5Not even his brothers had faith in him.6Jesus answered, ‘For me the right time has not come yet, but for you any time is the right time.7The world cannot hate you, but it does hate me because I give evidence that its ways are evil.8Go up to the festival yourselves: I am not [oupo = not yet] going to this festival, because for me the time is not ripe yet [oupo = not yet].’9Having said that, he stayed behind in Galilee.10However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went up as well, not publicly but secretly.11At the festival the Jews were on the look-out for him: ‘Where is he?’ they said.12There was a great deal of talk about him in the crowds. Some said, ‘He is a good man’; others, ‘No, he is leading the people astray.’13Yet no one spoke about him openly, for fear of the Jews.
The Greek word “oupo” is recorded twice in John 7:8. In Greek “oupo” means “not yet, hitherto not, as yet” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance # 3768). Jesus is without sin and cannot lie, therefore, He is not lying to His kinsmen when He tells them He is “not yet [oupo] going to the festival,” because for Him “the time is not yet [oupo] ripe.” The urging of Jesus’ kinsmen for Him to reveal Himself to the world before His time is ripe is in some ways reminiscent of Satan’s temptation of Jesus to reveal His true nature in Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; and Luke 4:1-13.
Jesus went up to Jerusalem secretly, not accompanying His relatives and friends in the caravan from the Galilee, because He knew there were men who were seeking to kill Him and His “hour” had not yet come to offer up His life’His ministry needed to continue a little longer. Ironically, Jesus will do as His kinsmen urged Him to do; it is at the Feast of Shelters (also known as Tabernacles or Booths) that Jesus will indeed publicly announce Himself to the Jews who have gathered for this “pilgrim feast” (seeExodus 23:14-17; Deuteronomy 16:5-17; 2 Chronicles 8:13), from across the Roman world, that He is the promised Messiah according to the prophecies of the prophets:
- In the prophecy of “the living water”: Isaiah 44:3-8; 55:1-11; Ezekiel 47:1-12; Zechariah 14:8-11
- In the prophecy of “the light”: 23-9:6(7); 60:1-6.
John 7:1-2 After this Jesus traveled round Galilee; he could not travel round Judaea because the Jews were seeking to kill him. As the Jewish feast of Shelters drew near…
The annual holy Feast of Shelters or Booths is known as Sukkot(h) [Sukkos] in Hebrew.
Question: Why are there people seeking Jesus and who are “the Jews”?
Answer: They want to kill Him for claiming equality with God. They believed Jesus was guilty of the crime of blasphemy for making such a claim. Once again John uses the word “Jews” to describe those who were in authority over the Law of the Old Covenant, the Pharisees and Sadducees who controlled the religious and civil government in Judea (Judaea). Their influence was not as great in the territory of Herod Antipas in the Galilee therefore Jesus was able to continue His ministry there relatively unopposed.>
Question: What is the Feast of Shelters? What was the Old Covenant significance of this feast? See the document: The Seven Sacred Annual Feasts of the Old Covenant in the appendix at the end of this lesson and also in the Charts section. You can find references to this feast in Exodus 23:16b; 34:22-23;Leviticus 23:33-43;Numbers 29:12-39, 42-43;Deuteronomy 16:13-15.
Answer: The Feast of Shelters (Sukkot in Hebrew), also called the Feast of Tabernacles from the Latin word for “dwelling”, was the last feast of the liturgical calendar [Passover was the first feast; see Exodus 12:1]. Also known as the Feast of Ingathering, Chag Haasif in Hebrew, [Exodus 23:16], this feast was celebrated for a week in the fall from Tishri 15-22, five days after the Feast of Yom Kippur [literally the “Day of Covering”] also known as the Feast of Atonement. The Feast of Shelters/Tabernacles, the most joyous and the longest of the festivals, was also considered to be the greatest of the feasts [The Jewish Festivals page 170]. The Feast of Shelters/Tabernacles memorialized God’s holy Dwelling place, the desert Tabernacle, the design of which was given to Moses by God Himself and which was later replaced by the Temple built by Solomon in the 10th century BC on Mt Moriah in Jerusalem. The feast also recalled the booths or shelters the people lived in during the time they received the 10 Commandments at Sinai and during the rest of the Exodus experience. Therefore, as a reminder of the time they were homeless when God delivered them from their enemies and protected them, the people were commanded to leave their homes and dwell in shelters. In addition to the connection to the Exodus experience, this feast was also a harvest festival, occurring at the time of the fruit harvest of the grapes and olives. Consulting the chart on the 7 annual feasts in the appendix at the end of this lesson you will notice that the first 4 feasts occur at the time of the gain harvests of barley [Feast of Firstfruits of the barley harvest] and wheat [Feast of Pentecost with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest], and the liturgical year closes with the grape and olive harvest. The Feast of Shelters/Tabernacles is also referred to as the “Feast of Yahweh” or simply as “the Festival [see Leviticus 23:9;1 Kings 8:2]. The Greek name for this feast expressed as “construction of shelters/tabernacles” occurs only here in John 7:2 in the New Testament [Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament: volume II, page 156].
At Mt. Sinai God not only gave Moses the 10 Commandments as the moral law of perfection, but He also gave the 613 articles or instructions within the Law as well the liturgical feasts and the different classes of sacrifices as the means to fulfill Israel’s obligation to the Law. These feasts included:
- The weekly feast of the Sabbath
- The 7 annual feasts which included the 3 “pilgrim feasts”; all prescribed in Leviticus chapter 23.
In addition to the weekly and annual feasts there were several periodic feasts:
- The New Moon Feast which began each month in the lunar calendar [the official calendar of the feast cycle]
- The Sabbath year feast, held every 7thyear
- The Jubilee Feast which was celebrated every 50th year.
Please consult the notes at the end of the Chart in the appendix for information on the periodic feasts.
Other feasts like Hanukkah /Chanukah [1 Maccabees 4:52-59; 2 Maccabees 10:1-8; John 10:22], referred to as the “Feast of Dedication” in John 10:22 and the Feast of Purim [Esther 9:18-32] were national feasts established by the people and not by Yahweh.
The ancient Rabbis taught that before the sin of the Golden Calf, God intended to indwell the tents or dwellings of all His holy people. But once the Golden Calf was worshipped the firstborn sons who had been redeemed the night of the Passover in Egypt lost their “sonship” and the result was the fall of Israel. The Golden Calf was to Israel what the forbidden fruit had been to Adam. No longer would Israel be a nation of priests. Now only the Levites, the tribe of Moses and Aaron, would serve God in a ministerial priesthood subservient to the high priesthood of Aaron’s descendants:
- Yahweh spoke to Moses and said: ‘Look, I myself have chosen the Levites from the Israelites instead of all the first-born, those who emerge first from the womb in Israel; the Levites therefore belong to me.’ Numbers 3:11-13.
- Yahweh then said to Aaron: ‘[..]. You will admit your brothers of the branch of Levi, your ancestor’s tribe, to join you and serve you, yourself and your sons, before the Tent of Testimony. They must be at your service and the service of the whole Tent.’ Numbers 18:2-3
But there was hope for Israel’s redemption and that hope was the holy Tabernacle, a tangible, physical sign that God had not abandoned His people but would continue to be present with them.
In addition to the celebration of the Tabernacle, the Feast of Shelters, as already mentioned, also gave thanks for the productivity of the land in the fruit harvest [grapes, olives, etc.]; it was the last harvest of the liturgical year [the civil year began that month but the liturgical year began with Passover]. This feast was designated by Yahweh as one of the three pilgrim feasts in which all men of the Covenant must appear before Yahweh at His holy Sanctuary in Jerusalem [Exodus 23:14, 15, 17; 34:18-23]. The actual feast lasted 7 days with a Sacred Assembly on the 8th day [Leviticus 23:34-36]. Each day of the feast sacrifices and offerings, in addition to the 2 lambs of the daily Tamid [Taymid] sacrifice, were made to Yahweh on His altar in the Temple in Jerusalem [see Exodus 29:38-42; Numbers 12-38]. By the end of the 7-day feast, 70 bulls had been offered to Yahweh in sacrifice in addition to 14 rams, 98 lambs [not counting the twice daily Tamyid lambs], 7 goats, cereal offerings and water and wine libations. On the 8thday, which was the Sacred Assembly of Israel, 1 bull, 1 ram, 7 lambs, and 1 goat along with cereal offerings and wine libations were given in sacrifice [Numbers 29:12-39].
This was a very joyous festival in which the people were commanded to live in booths or huts [in Hebrew the word for hut or booth, singular = sukka, plural = sukkot] made of branches: Yahweh speaking to Israel, ‘On the first day you will take choice fruit, palm branches, boughs of leafy trees and flowering shrubs from the river bank, and for seven days enjoy yourselves before Yahweh you God.”…”For seven days you will live in shelters; all the citizens of Israel will live in shelters, so that your descendants may know that I made the Israelites live in shelters when I brought them out of Egypt, I Yahweh, your God’[Leviticus 23:39-43]. Mishnah Sukkah 2.9 records that the faithful were required to live in the booth (sukka) for the first 7 days of the festival, and were required to eat at least 14 meals in it [Mishnah: Sukkah 2.6].
Answer: It is significant that all three Synoptic Gospels recorded that St. Peter suggests making shelters: Matthew 17:4; Mark 9:5; and Luke 9:33. The experience at the Mt. of Transfiguration may have occurred just before the Feast of Shelters, and perhaps Peter didn’t see any need to go to Jerusalem to build booths for the feast since he, James, and John could celebrate the feast there on the mountain with God [Jesus], Moses and Elijah. Peter may have already begun to understand that the Temple in Jerusalem had served its purpose and would be replaced. He already saw that God’s holy people now had a new Moses who was the new law-giver and who would inaugurate the New Covenant as promised by the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:31-34 ‘ why would the old feasts celebrated at the Temple be necessary when the Son of God Himself was with them?
It is important to recall that the Feast of Shelters, or Tabernacles, not only looked backward to the Exodus experience and God’s Tabernacle’the Ark of the Covenant that guided the children of Israel through the desert wilderness to the Promise Land, but the feast also reminded Israel of her mission to the nations of the world. This is the reason 70 bulls were sacrificed during the feast’one bull for each of the 70 nations which originally composed the nations of the world before the confusion of the tongues at the Tower of Babel [see Genesis chapters10-11 and count the 70 names which are the fathers of the future 70 nations]. The prophet Zechariah prophesized a day when all peoples and nations of the earth would return to Yahweh: …all the survivors of the nations which have attacked Jerusalem will come up year after year to worship the King, Yahweh Sabaoth, and to keep the Feast of Shelters. Should one of the races of the world fail to come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, Yahweh Sabaoth, there will be no rain for that one[Zechariah 14:16-17]. At the formation of the covenant at Sinai, Israel had been set apart as God’s holy nation to be a witness of the One True God to the other nations of the earth. That is why the Temple in Jerusalem was built with a special court for the Gentiles to allow them a place come to be instructed in the holy Covenant, and as a place for the Gentiles to pray to the God of Israel who was the “light” of the world.
Both “light” and “water” played an important part in the symbolism of this feast. “Light” recalled the light of the Glory Cloud as Yahweh led Israel through the wilderness’the Pillar of Fire. It was the light of the presence of God, the Shekinah in Hebrew, which made the cloud shine with light. “Light” was a symbol of His presence and in the Temple. In the Tabernacle Yahweh commanded that the light of the golden Menorah (candelabra) be kept burning continuously as a sign of His presence [Leviticus 24:1-4]. Water was also a symbol of this feast in memory of the water miracles that manifested God’s protection and care in the wilderness:
- the parting of the Red Sea
- the life-giving water that came from the Rock [Exodus 17, Numbers 20] in the desert wilderness journey. The miraculous water from the “Rock” saved the people and their flocks of animals for 40 years. It was part of the oral tradition of the Israelites that the “Rock” followed them on their journey to salvation in the Promised Land [1 Corinthians 10:4].
Question: What mystery does St. Paul reveal to us about the Rock that gave life-sustaining water during the desert wandering of the children of Israel? Read 1Corinthians 10:1-5 for your answer:
Answer: Christ is the Rock that physically nourished the children of Israel with life-giving water! The identification of Jesus Christ with the “Rock” will be very important in this chapter.
These Old Testament passages about water were read during the liturgical ceremonies of the weeklong feast in association with the “Celebration of Water Libation” [in Hebrew Simchat Bet Hasho’ayva], which according to the Mishnah: Sukkah 4.1C was a part of the liturgical service on seven days of the festival. Every day at the time of the first daily Tamid sacrifice [Exodus 29:38-42] two processions set out from the Temple. One group, led by priests went to Moza, a place near the city to gather long willow branches, which they placed alongside the great altar of sacrifice with their points inward [Leviticus 23:40-41]. The people had collected the 4 required branches just prior to the beginning of the festival and would carry them each day in the processions, placing them in water after the liturgical service. The four kinds of required branches prescribed in Leviticus 23:40 according to the >Mishnah were 3 myrtle (“the boughs of thick trees”, hadasim in Hebrew), 2 willow (aravit), 1 palm (lulav) and 1 citron (etrog). These four species were to be held in the hand and blessed each day of the festival for 7 days [Mishnah: Sukkah>, 3.4].
A second a procession of the people led by the High Priest carried palm branches and the other fragrant branches processed, singing the Hallel Psalms 113-118, from the Temple through the Water Gate to the pool of Siloam. At the pool of Siloam the High Priest filled a golden pitcher with the water from the pool [Mishnah: Sukkah, 4:9B]; then the procession returned to the Temple, the shofar, ram’s horn trumpet, announcing their arrival. The Mishnah records that no fewer than 21 (3 x 7) trumpet blasts on the shofar we given in a liturgical service. There were three blasts at the opening of the Temple gates at 9AM, nine (3 + 3+3) at the offering of the Tamid morning sacrifice and nine more at the Tamid evening sacrifice. On the feast days when additional offerings were made, nine additional shofar blasts were given and on the eve of the Sabbath 6 (3 + 3) more [Mishnah: Sukkah 5:5].
The return to the Temple was carefully timed so that the morning sacrifice of the lamb was being burned on the great sacrificial altar. It was required at the burning of the daily sacrifice that a libation of wine is poured out on the altar [Exodus 29:39-41], but during the Feast of Tabernacles there was also the libation of water. The High priest slowly proceeded to the great stone altar in the Inner Court of the Temple and ascended to the right side of the ramp. At the top of the ramp the High Priest turned to the left where there were two basins of silver which drain to the base of the great altar of sacrifice. The basin toward the east was reserved for the libations of wine and the other basin toward the west was used only for the “Celebration of Water Libation” during this feast. The people chanted as the High Priest poured out the water libation before Yahweh, while another priest simultaneously poured the drink offering of wine into the other silver basin. Three blasts of the trumpets immediately followed the “Celebration of Water Libation”. The trumpets would signal the start of the Temple music as the Levitical choruses sang the great Hallel Psalms [Psalms 113-118’the same Psalms sung at the Passover feast]: Hallelujah! Praise, servants of Yahweh, praise the name of Yahweh. Blessed by the name of Yahweh, now and forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting, praised be the name of Yahweh! [Psalms 113:1]. Now the crowds would wave their palm branches and join in the singing: Hosanna! Save us, I pray, O Yahweh; Yahweh, I pray, send now prosperity [Psalms 118:25], while the other priests carried palm branches and marched once around the altar of sacrifice. [seeMishnah: Sukkah pages 278-90; The Jewish Festivals, pages 41-42; 171-5; 200-207]. Note: The Jewish Book of Why records that the pouring out ceremony only occurred on the second evening of the Sukkot feast on page 248, but this citation clearly is at odds with the oral tradition recorded in the Jewish Mishnah, citation 4:1C designates 7 days and 4.9L, 8 days.
The Siloam pool is fed by the Gihon spring, which is the only source of water for the entire city of Jerusalem.
Question: The pool of Siloam where the water for the “Pouring out Ceremony” was collected was fed by the Gihon spring. Where have you heard the name “Gihon” before? Hint: see Exodus 2:13.
Answer: It is the name of one of the rivers that flowed out of Eden to nourish the earth.
Question: When the crowds of people in the Temple cried out “Hosannah” and waved palm branches were you reminded of another time that the crowds of Jerusalem would perform a similar action?
Answer: On Palm/ Passion Sunday when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a young colt and the crowds of Jerusalem hailed Him as Messiah-King in fulfillment of Biblical prophecy [see Matthew 21:9, 15; Mark 11:9-10; John 12:13]. “Hosanna” is Hebrew for “Save us now” or “Please save”‘it is the greeting for a king of Israel and can be equated to the English people calling out “God save the Queen or King” to their monarch [Psalms 118:25-26]. On Jesus’ final entry into the holy city the people hailed Him with the messianic imagery of palm branches from the Feast of Tabernacles. This same imagery is repeated inRevelation 7:9-10 where the redeemed saints worship, with palm branches around the throne of God and the Lamb: After that I saw that there was a huge number, impossible for anyone to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. They shouted in a loud voice, ‘Salvation (Hosanna) to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’
In the evening everyone returned to the Temple for the most interesting and joyous part of the festival, the fire ceremony and the torch dance! This ceremony took place in the Court of the Women [Mishnah:Sukkah 5:2-5:4]. The crowd assembled in the great court. Above the court on the roof of the colonnades galleries had been built for the women. Below the women were the areas for the men. In the center of the court there were four great golden menorahs which were set on bases that were fifty feet high and which blazed with such brilliance that it is said that all Jerusalem was lit up by them. As flutes begin to play young men gathered in the center of the court, each bearing torches in their hands and as they danced they threw the torches high into the air and caught them again in their hands. While they danced the Levitical musicians played harps, cymbals, trumpets and other instruments along with the flutes as the Levitical choirs sang the Psalms of Ascents [Psalms 122]. >Mishnah: Sukkah 5.2 records: And there was not a courtyard in Jerusalem which was not lit up from the light of bet hashshoebah! It must have been an amazing site. Mishnah: Sukkah 5:1 records: Anyone who has not seen the rejoicing of bet hashshoebah[fire ceremony] in his life has never seen rejoicing. At dawn the silver trumpets blew the signal that marked the end of the ceremony and everyone returned home to sleep a little before the ceremonies of the day began again [The Jewish Festivals, Hayyim Schauss, pages 180-185; Mishnah: Sukkot 5:1-5:5].
This background information on the Feast of Tabernacles is necessary in order to understand what transpires between Jesus and the people of Jerusalem during this feast and the impact His words will have on the crowd of worshippers.
John 7:2b-5 …his brothers said to him, ‘Leave this place and go to Judea, so that your disciples, too, can see the works you are doing; no one who wants to be publicly known acts in secret; if this is what you are doing, you should reveal yourself to the world.’ Not even his brothers had faith in him. [literal = “neither were believing His brethren on Him.” “Believing” is expressed in the imperfect; referring not to a single act of faith, but to faith as habitual and controlling [Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament: volume II, page 157].
“brothers” : The word used in the Greek for brothers is adelphoi, which means “from the womb” and literally means brothers who are born from the same mother. Unfortunately this word has been misunderstood to mean that Joseph and Mary had an intimate marriage relationship after Jesus’ birth that resulted in brothers and sisters. This has never been a teaching of the Church. All the Fathers of the Church maintained that Mary remained a virgin all of her life: St. Athanasius circa 358, Let those, therefore, who deny that the Son is by nature from the Father and proper to His essence, deny also that he took true human flesh from the Ever-Virgin Mary [Discourses Against the Arians 2.70].
The problem stems from the fact that the sacred writers of the New Testament were writing in Greek but thinking in Hebrew/Aramaic. There is no separate word for “cousin” in Hebrew or Aramaic. The only way to designate a “cousin” was to indicate that a certain person was the son of your mother’s brother, etc. In the Hebrew and Aramaic concept of relationships any male sibling, kinsman, or a countryman, was a “brother.” This peculiarity of the Hebrew language is evident in other passages in the New Testament that are clearly not speaking of blood relationships. In Acts 1:14there is a reference to Mary the mother of Jesus and his brothers/adelphoi, referring to Jesus’ kinsmen and kinswomen; however the same word in the plural, adelphoi is found inActs 1:15-16 where Peter addresses the 120 disciples [men and women] assembled in the Upper Room and calls them adelphoi [please also note that in the plural “brothers”-adelphoi, can refer to brothers and sisters]:
- One day Peter stood up to speak to the brothers (adelphoi)’there were about a hundred and twenty people in the congregations, ‘Brothers (Adelphoi),’ he said….
- In Peter’s great homily at the Feast of Pentecost he preaches the risen Christ to the Jewish crowds and calls them adelphoi [Acts 2:29, 37]:
- ‘Brothers (Adelphoi), no one can deny that the patriarch David himself is dead and buried: his tomb is still with us.’
- Hearing this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘What are we to do, brothers (adelphoi)?’
Later when Peter preaches to the Jewish crowds at the Temple he also calls them adelphoi in Acts 3:17:
- ‘Now I know, brothers (adelphoi), that neither you nor your leaders had any idea what you were really doing; but this was the way God carried out what he had foretold, when he said through all his prophets that his Christ would suffer.’
Throughout Acts and all of Paul’s and James’ and John’s letters to the Church the New Covenant believers are all referred to as adelphoi [the plural form can be used to indicate both sisters and brothers / male and female kinsman] and the Jewish crowds are also addressed as adelphoi. The point is, in the New Testament the Greek word adelphoi is being used in the Hebrew sense of kinsman/ kinswoman, or Covenant brother or sister. We know from the Bible and other sources that Jesus had several kinsmen who became prominent in the Jerusalem New Covenant Church. Both James and Simon became Bishops of Jerusalem [according to tradition they were a stepbrother and a cousin to Jesus]. Both Jesus’ kinsmen James and Jude wrote books of the New Testament that bears their names. If Mary had other sons it would have been inconceivable that Jesus would have left her in the care of the Apostle St. John at the foot of the cross instead of telling John to make sure that another son cared for her. It is clear that these men are kinsmen of Jesus’ family who know of and have seen His miracles. For more information on this subject I recommend Karl Keating’s book Catholicism and Fundamentalism, pages 282-289. Also see This Rock Magazine, September 2003 “Bad Aramaic Made Easy: There is No Word for ‘Cousin'”, pages 18-22.
In Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, which attempts to list every word found in every verse in both Testaments, see the list of Bible passages under the word “brother/brothers” where you will find that the Greek word adelphoi (plural, “from the womb”), Greek lexicon #80 is the only New Testament Greek word used’there is no other Greek word used by the New Testament writers for “brothers”, etc. The Greek New Testament for sister is adelphe [#79], which in the literal Greek also means “from the womb” but is used in the same Hebrew sense of kinship relationship: for example see James 2:15: If one of the brothers (adelphoi)or one of the sisters (adelphe) is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warn and eat plenty,’ without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that? It is obvious from the context of the passage that St. James is not referring to blood relation brothers or sisters.
Question: What advice do Jesus’ kinsmen give to Him?
Answer: They suggest that He should go to Jerusalem and perform His wonders to reveal Himself to the world.
Question: What is it they didn’t believe?
Answer: According to the text they are either unsure of His ability to perform miracles or unsure of His ultimate intent or origin: if this is what you are doing… they say in John 7:4. They seem to want Him to proclaim His miracles more publicly. Perhaps the problem is that like the crowd of people at the feeding of the 5,000, His kinsmen want Jesus to emerge as a political Messiah who will raise a revolt against the Romans and become the promised king? Perhaps their inability to believe is that they cannot accept His role as anything other than a conquering Messiah or perhaps they still only see Him as the child who became a man that they have always known?
There is an interesting link between the expectations or demands made upon Jesus in 6:15-7:3 and those that are found in the Synoptic Gospels ofMatthew in 4:1-11 and Luke in 4:1-13 which supports this interpretation that the kinsmen of Jesus desire Him to proclaim Himself openly and assume His role as Messiah-King in a political sense. Please read those passages.
Answer: All these passages parallel the Temptation of Jesus by Satan.
Expectations for Jesus in John 6:15-7:3
Temptation of Jesus in Matthew & Luke
6:15: The people want to make Jesus king
6:31: The people ask for miraculous bread
7:3: The kinsmen of Jesus want Him to go to Jerusalem to show His power.
These are the same temptations, more subtly presented, but still the same. Once again Jesus successfully resists.
John 7: 6-10: Jesus answered, ‘for me the right time has not come yet, but for you any time is the right time. The world cannot hate you, but it does hate me, because I give evidence that its ways are evil. Go up to the festival yourselves; I am not going to this festival [yet*], because for me the time is not ripe yet.’ Having said that, he stayed behind in Galilee. However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went up as well, not publically but secretly. [*the word “yet” is included in some ancient manuscripts].
Jesus’ answer to His kinsmen has two levels of meaning:
- The first meaning that the brothers understand is that He does not intend at this “time” to go up to the festival. But what Jesus really means is illustrated by the fact that He does attend the feast.
- The second meaning, which is Jesus’ real meaning, becomes clear when one realizes His reference is to His death at the hands of “the Jews” in verse 1. When Jesus speaks of His “time” He is speaking on the level of God’s divine plan. His “time” is His “hour”, the hour of His passion, death, resurrection, and ascension to the Father. This is the “time” that is not to come at this festival of Tabernacles’it is to come at the next feast 6 months later: the Passover/Unleavened Bread Feast.
John 7:7: The world cannot hate you but it does hate me…
Answer: In St. John’s Gospel the “world” has two meanings: First it means all creation including all created things, which includes man. This is the sense in which the “world” is used in John 3:16: For God so loved the world: he gave his only [begotten] Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. But the “world” also means everything opposed to God as in the sense of John 17:14-16 in Jesus’ prayer for the Apostles: I passed your word on to them, and the world hated them, because they belong to the world no more than I belong to the world. I am not asking you to remove them from the world, but to protect them from the Evil One. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Jesus is the “light” but blinded by their sins, men do not recognize in the world the “Light” that is Christ. St. John Chrysostom writes: they become attached to the world and relish only the things that are of the world.. [Homilies on St John, 7].
Question: Do Jesus’ kinsmen persist in their “unbelief” or will they come to understand who He is and the extent of His mission?
Answer: Jesus’ kinsmen are profoundly transformed by the Resurrection. According to Acts 1:14 they are present with the Apostles, the other disciples, and the Virgin Mary in the Upper Room praying for the coming of the Paraclete.
- Jesus’ kinsman James became one of the select few to witness Jesus’ Resurrected glory in a private interview [Galatians 15:7]. It is probably because of this special attention that the Apostles selected James to become the first Christian Bishop of Jerusalem [Acts 12:17;15:13-21; 21:18-25] and he is identified as the inspired writer of the New Testament Letter of St. James. St. Paul visited with James on his first trip to Jerusalem after consulting with St. Peter [Galatians 1:19]. James was martyred for his faith circa 64AD, the account of his persevering faith in the face of torture and death preserved in the writings of the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus [Antiquities of the Jews,20.9.1] and 4th century Bishop Eusebius [Church History, Book II, chapter 23.1-25].
- Jesus’ kinsman Jude also became a leader in the early Church and is the inspirited writer of the New Testament Letter of Jude [Church History, Book II, chapter 23.25].
- Jesus’ kinsman Simon /Simeon became the 2nd Christian Bishop of the Jerusalem faith community after James was martyred circa 64AD and was himself martyred for his faith in Jesus as Savior and Redeemer [Church History, Book III, chapter 11.1-2 & chapter 22.1; chapter 32.1-8].
John 7:10: after his brothers had left…..he went up as well but not publicly but secretly. People generally traveled to the feasts in large caravans that offered protection for the pilgrims. After the arrival of the caravans from the Galilee the report would have been received that Jesus had not traveled with the Galileans and the members of the Sanhedrin would have relaxed their vigil and put off their plans. When Jesus did arrive He could slip into the city unobserved.
John 7:11-13: At the festival the Jews were on the look-out for him: ‘Where is he?’ they said. There was a great deal of talk about him in the crowds. Some said, ‘He is a good man’; others, ‘No, he is leading the people astray.’ Yet no one spoke about him openly, for fear of the Jews.
Question: Once again Jesus appears as a ‘sign’ of contradiction. What prophecy from his infancy is fulfilled in this passage and what statement did Jesus make about how the people would receive His message? Hint: see Luke 2:34 and Luke 12:51and 7:43.
Answer: When Jesus was presented at the Temple in Jerusalem on the 40th day after His birth an elderly man named Simeon, who was filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesized ‘Look, he is destined for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is opposed..’ Jesus Himself had also warned ‘Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.’ Everyone is divided in their opinions of Him but no one can be indifferent. We are also warned that we will face the same persecution. St. Augustine comments …some say that he is good; others that he is not, that he is deceiving people. If this is said of God, it should console every Christian of whom the same is said… [In Ioannis Evangelium, 28, 12].
Please read John 7:14-24: The Middle of the Feast
14 When the festival was half over, Jesus went to the Temple and began to teach. 15 The Jews were astonished and said, ‘How did he learn to read? He has not been educated.’ 16 Jesus answered them: ‘My teaching is not from myself: it comes from the one who sent me; 17 anyone who is prepared to do his will, will know whether my teaching is from God or whether I speak on my own account. 18 When someone speaks on his own account, he is seeking honor for himself; but when he is seeking the honor of the person who sent him, then he is true and altogether without dishonesty. 19 Did not Moses give you the Law? And yet not one of you keeps the Law! Why do you want to kill me?’ 20 The crowd replied, ‘You are mad! Who wants to kill you?’ 21 Jesus answered, ‘One work I did, and you are all amazed at it. 22 Moses ordered you to practice circumcision’not that it began with him, it goes back to the patriarchs’and you circumcise on the Sabbath. 23 Now if someone can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses is not broken, why are you angry with me for making someone completely healthy on a Sabbath? 24 Do not keeping judging according to appearances; let your judgment be according to what is right.’
The passages from John 7:14-52 have a common theme: the uncertainty about Jesus’ origins.
His human origin obscures His divine origin:
- He is not “educated,” by which they mean that Jesus has never been the pupil of one of the scholars of the Law; therefore, how can anyone accept the authority of His teachings (verses 14-18).
- The details of His human origins, His birth and childhood in Nazareth, are known so how can He be the Messiah [the Messiah cannot be born in Nazareth but must be born in Bethlehem; see verses 25-27 and 42-43].
John 7:14-19: When the festival was half over, Jesus went to the Temple and began to teach. The Jews were astonished and said, ‘How did he learn to read? He has not been educated.’ Jesus answered them: ‘My teaching is not from myself: it comes from the one who sent me; anyone who is prepared to do his will, will know whether my teaching is from God or whether I speak on my own account. When someone speaks on his own account, he is seeking honor for himself; but when he is seeking the honor of the person who sent him, then he is true and altogether without dishonesty. Did not Moses give you the Law: and yet not one of you keeps the Law!’
This is either the 3rd or 4th day of the festival. The festival lasted 7 days with a sacred assembly on the 8thday [Leviticus 23:39; Numbers 29:12, 35]. We are not told the content of Jesus’ teaching on this occasion but it must have been a continuation of His statement in John 5:47 when He told the crowds if they believed what Moses taught they would believe Him because Moses wrote about Him. He was probably continuing in this theme, establishing His claims to the prophecy ofDeuteronomy 18:15-19 as the “greater than Moses” by quoting and teaching on specific passages from the Torah, and commenting on them as He went along. His profound insight astonished the Jewish leaders who had thought that such learning must be confined to those who were trained in a theological school. They had never heard of Jesus as a disciple of any prominent Rabbi/Scribe [also see Mark 6:1 and Luke 2:47].
Question: How does Jesus defend His teaching?
Answer: His teaching is from God the Father and He is teaching on the Father’s authority. Since Jesus is true God and true man He can speak about the things of God with a unique and singular authority [see John 1:18]. This is the third time this theme is repeated [see 4:34 and 6:30].
Question: What is Jesus’ charge against the Jewish authorities and what does He mean?
Answer: They keep the Law imperfectly because they only keep what they interpret as the “letter of the Law” and not the “spirit of the Law”, and what they demand as regulated in the Law they break themselves when they condemn the innocent and hold others to a different standard than they hold themselves. He becomes clearer about His meaning as He continues to speak to the crowds.
John 7:20-24: ‘Why do you want to kill me?’ The crowd replied, ‘You are mad! Who wants to kill you?’ Jesus answered, ‘One work I did, and you are all amazed at it. Moses ordered you to practice circumcision’not that it began with him, it goes back to the patriarchs’and you circumcise on the Sabbath. Now if someone can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses is not broken, why are you angry with me for making someone completely healthy on a Sabbath? Do not keep judging according to appearances; let your judgment be according to what is right.’
Question: Why do the people in the crowd deny that they want to kill Jesus? When did the Jewish authorities begin to discuss killing Jesus? Hint: see chapter 5.
Answer: No one in this crowd has openly spoken of doing violence to Him. They do not realize that He has read their minds. The Jew began to speak of killing Jesus in John chapter 5 at the second feast mentioned by St. John, which was a year earlier [which is also probably the Feast of Tabernacles] John records: But that only made the Jews even more intent on killing him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he spoke of God as his own Father and so made himself God’s equal [John 5:16-18].
Question: What is Jesus referring to in 7:21-22?
Answer: He has been accused of breaking the Law of Moses by working on the Sabbath [Exodus 20:8-11]. Accusing Jesus of breaking the Law by healing on the Sabbath goes back to John 5:5-9 when Jesus healed the man who was paralyzed for 38 years on the unnamed feast which was also probably the Feast of Tabernacles. In that episode, the Jews accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath by healing the man of his paralysis [5:18].
Question: Why does Jesus use the rite of circumcision as an example of acceptable work on the Sabbath without breaking the Law?
Answer: Circumcision is a sign of the Abrahamic covenant [Genesis 17:10-14] and was later continued into the Mosaic (Sinai) covenant [Leviticus 12:3]. Circumcision was believed to be the “healing” of the newborn by bringing him out of the “world” and into the sacred Covenant. According to tradition the command to circumcise newborn boys on the eighth day overrides the duty to observe the Sabbath rest to refrain from work when it falls on the same day. Jesus’ argument is that if it is lawful to “heal” part of the body how can it be unlawful to heal the whole body when the need arises on the Sabbath? He is using a typical 1st century rabbinical argument [see CCC#2173].
Question: Can you recall another example in the other Gospels when Jesus was accused of healing on the Sabbath?
Answer: InMatthew 12:1-14 Jesus allowed His hungry disciples to pick corn and later He healed a man on the Sabbath at a synagogue in the Galilee. The account of this event is repeated in Mark 2:23-3:6 and in Luke 6:1-11. The Gospel of Mark 3:27-28 records Jesus’ teaching concerning His reasons for doing God’s work on the Sabbath: ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath; so the Son of man is master even of the Sabbath.’[Also see Luke 13:10-17; 14:1-6].
Please read John 7:25-30: The crowds discuss the origin of the Messiah
25 Meanwhile some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, ‘Isn’t this the man they want to kill? 26 And here he is, speaking openly, and they have nothing to say to him! Can it be true the authorities have recognized that he is the Christ? 27 Yet we all know where he comes from, but when the Christ appears no one will know where he comes from.’ 28 Then, as Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he cried out: ‘You know me and you know where I came from. Yet I have not come of my own accord: but he who sent me is true; You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I have my being from him and it was he who sent me.’ 30 They wanted to arrest him then, but because his hour had not yet come no one laid a hand on him.”
There were two traditions regarding the birth of the Messiah in the first century. One was that the Messiah would come from the line of King David and would be born in the city of David, in Bethlehem of Judea, as was prophesized by the prophet Micah in Micah 5:2. The other tradition was that the Messiah would grow up in obscurity unknown to the world until he reached adulthood and then his identity would be revealed through the signs he worked.
Question: Were either of these traditions valid in Jesus’ case?
Answer: Ironically, both are true. Jesus was born in Bethlehem [Luke 2:4-7] but most people assumed He was born in Nazareth, and His heavenly origin is unknown to the crowds listening to Him. This discussion concerning Jesus’ identity will continue among the people in the crowd in 7:40-44.
Question: Jesus says to the crowd ‘You know me and you know where I came from..’ How do they know?
Answer: John the Baptist revealed His identity as a divine Messiah and Jesus has told them repeatedly of his divine origins [for example in His teaching a year earlier in chapter 5 and in chapter 6 in the “Bread of Life” discourse].
Question: Why do they want to arrest Him?
Answer: The Jews realize that Jesus is making Himself God’s equal, and such a claim was regarded as blasphemy. Blasphemy according to the Law was punishable by death by stoning [see Leviticus 24:15-16, 23].
Answer: St. Augustine writes: “He did not therefore mean an hour when he would be forced to die, but one when he would allow himself to be put to death. For he was waiting for the time in which he should die, even as he waited for the time in which he should be born.” [In Ioannis Evangelium>, 31, 7].
Please read John 7: 31-36: Jesus prophesizes His “exodus” from this world [Middle of the Feast continued]
31 There were many people in the crowds, however, who believed in him; they were saying, ‘When the Christ comes, will he give more signs than this man has?’ 32 Hearing that talk like this about him was spreading among the people, the Pharisees sent the Temple guards to arrest him. 33 Then Jesus said: ‘For a short time I am with you still; then I shall go back to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me and will not find me; where I am you cannot come.’ 35 So the Jews said to one another, ‘Where is he intending to go that we shall not be able to find him? Is he intending to go abroad to the people who are dispersed among the Greeks and to teach the Greeks? 36 What does he mean when he says: “You will look for me and will not find me; where I am you cannot come” ?’
John 7:31-32 There were many people in the crowds, however, who believed in him; they were saying, ‘When the Christ comes, will he give more signs than this man has? Hearing that talk like this about him was spreading among the people, the Pharisees sent the Temple guards to arrest him. [Some MSS read “Pharisees and chief priests..”].
Question: In7:13 there were those in the crowd who said “He is a good man”, while others said “He is leading the people astray.” Now some are saying “He must be the promised Messiah.” What sign prophesized in Luke 2:33-35 is being fulfilled?
Answer: The sign of contradiction that Simeon prophesized at the Temple when the Virgin Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to be dedicated is being fulfilled. Some believe in Him, some are torn, and others reject Him. The Temple guards are the Levites who maintain order in the Temple precinct’s where Jesus has been teaching.
John 7:33-36: Then Jesus said: ‘For a short time I am with you still; then I shall go back to the one who sent me. You will look for me and will not find me; where I am you cannot come.’ So the Jews said to one another, ‘Where is he intending to go that we shall not be able to find him? Is he intending to go abroad to the people who are dispersed among the Greeks and to teach the Greeks?
Question: The crowd asks: What does he means when he says: ‘You will look for me and will not find me; where I am you cannot come?’ What does Jesus mean?
Answer: Jesus is telling them that they must seek Him while there is still time to find Him and accept His words before His departure or “exodus” from this life. InLuke 9:31 on the Mount of Transfiguration the inspired writer uses the Greek word exodus to refer to Jesus’ departure from this life and His return to the Father [The Interlinear Bible, Greek-English, volume IV, page 189; Strong’s #1841]. But for the Jews who will not come to Him, He and His salvation will also slip away from them and will instead be given to the Gentiles [see 12:20-21, 35; 19:37].
Question: Is there also a message in Jesus’ words for us in “our time?
Answer: Yes, we have the span of our lifetimes to accept or reject Jesus as our Savior. When our “time” is past if we have not accepted His gift of salvation, there will be only judgment!
Question: The crowd speculates about Jesus traveling to the Jews living outside the Holy Land to spread His message. Why didn’t Jesus carry His message to the Jews outside the Holy Land and to the Gentile lands?
Answer: InMatthew 15:27 Jesus tells His disciples: ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.’ It was to Israel that the Messiah was promised. It is the Messiah’s mission to proclaim and establish the Kingdom of heaven on earth, and to empower the covenant children of God to carry that message to the ends of the earth. Three times a year orthodox Jews from the Diaspora [Gentile world] returned to Jerusalem to keep the pilgrim feasts and therefore six times during Jesus’ three year ministry these Jews had the opportunity to hear the message of New Covenant salvation and to carry that message back to their communities. Having prepared the people during His 3 year ministry and having established the New Covenant [Jeremiah 31:31-34] in His blood [Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20] on the altar of the Cross, Jesus will send forth His New Covenant Church, baptized by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, to spread the Gospel of Salvation to the ends of the earth: He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time’ [Matthew 28:19-20].
Please read John 7:37-53: The Last Day of the Feast: Day 7
37 On the last day, the great day of the festival, Jesus stood and cried out: ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me! 38 Let anyone who believes in me come and drink! As Scripture says, “From his heart shall flow streams of living water.”‘ 39 He was speaking of the Spirit which those who believed in him were to receive for there was no Spirit as yet because Jesus had not yet been glorified. 40 Some of the crowd who had been listening said, ‘He is indeed the prophet,’ 41 and some said, ‘He is the Christ,’ but others said, ‘Would the Christ come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Christ must be descended from David and come from Bethlehem, the village where David was?’ 43 So the people could not agree about him. 44 Some wanted to arrest him, but no one actually laid a hand on him. 45 The guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees who said to them, ‘Why haven’t you brought him?’ 46 The guards replied, ‘No one has ever spoken like this man.’ 47 ‘So,’ the Pharisees answered, ‘you, too, have been led astray? 48Have any of the authorities come to believe in him? Any of the Pharisees? 49This rabble knows nothing about the Law’they are damned.’ 50 One of them, Nicodemus’the same man who had come to Jesus earlier’said to them, 51 ‘But surely our Law does not allow us to pass judgment on anyone without first giving him a hearing and discovering what he is doing?’ 52 To this they answered, ‘Are you a Galilean too? Go into the matter, and see for yourself: prophets do not arise in Galilee.’ 53 They all went home….
John 7:37a “On the last day, the great day of the festival, …”
Scholars debate whether John is writing about day 7 or day 8. Jewish scholars in the 1st century AD as well as modern scholars have always identified day 7 as the most important day of the feast. The 8th day, which is a Sacred Assembly of the covenant people is more a day of rest. There is a “Water Libation Ceremony on the 8th day but and no branch ceremony and no “Fire Ceremony” [Mishnah, Sukkos 4.3, 4.9l; 5:1]. The 7th day was definitely the day when the Temple services reached a climax! It was always anticipated that the 7thday of the Feast of Tabernacles would determine the abundance of God’s gift of “water from heaven”, the annual rains necessary for a good growing season. It was a Jewish tradition that it was on this day that God declared whether the rain for the coming year’s crops would be plentiful or whether there would be drought [Brown, page 326-327] and was called “A Day of Judgment for Rain”. Therefore, on this 7th day of the feast the Water-Pouring Ceremony took on greater importance and was known as the Hosanna Rabbah or the “Great Hosanna” [The Jewish Book of Why, page 255].
As the rituals of the 7th day began, water, the gift necessary for life, was the most important thought on the minds of the worshippers. During the past 6 days the trumpets gave three blasts to announce the beginning of the ceremony, but today they would give three sets of seven blasts. During the past 6 days the priests made only one circuit around the great altar, but on this day the priests will make 7 circuits. Imagine you are there with the crowd at the Temple. You see the procession from the Siloam Pool is returning. The first daily lamb of sacrifice is laid on the great altar and is burning, its salted body causing great clouds of white smoke to rise from the altar up to heaven, signifying God’s acceptance of the sacrifice. The High Priest ascends the altar ramp as the people cry out “Lift up thy hand!” As the High Priest pours out the water from the Siloam pool into the silver basin, and as another priest pours out the wine, the “blood of the grape,” into the other silver basin, you hear the people chant “With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation!” The trumpets begin to blow seven sets of three blasts. Now all the priests holding willow and palm branches slowly begin to march around the great altar of sacrifice. Seven times they march, beating their bows on the ground as those of us in the crowd are waving our palm branches filled with messianic fervor and thoughts of the promise of water, the gift of life for our crops and for our prosperity for the coming year because, according to tradition, today is the day God will decide if we will have rain or drought for the growing season. Now you hear all the people join the Levitical choir in singing the Hallel Psalms 118, and when they come to the last verses of Psalm 118, verses 22-29, a chill runs through your spine as the assembly sings the very significantly prophetic phrase: “The stone which the builder rejected has become the cornerstone; This is Yahweh’s doing, and we marvel at it. This is the day which Yahweh has made, a day for us to rejoice and be glad. We beg you, Yahweh, save us! Hosanna!, we beg you, Yahweh, give us victory! Blessed in the name of Yahweh is he who is coming! We bless you from the house of Yahweh. Yahweh is God, he gives us light. Link your processions, branches in hand, up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, I thank you. All praise to you, my God. I thank you for hearing me, and making yourself my Savior. Give thanks to Yahweh for he is good, for his faithful love endures for ever.” This is the verse which calls for the coming of the Messianic King! [The Jewish Festivals, Hayyim Schauss, pages 181-185; Mishnah: Sukkah, 279-90].
It is at this moment the crowd of worshipers becomes aware of the young Rabbi from the Galilee….
John 7: 37-39 “Jesus stood up and cried out: ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me! Let anyone who believes in me come and drink! As scripture says, “From his heart* shall flow streams of living water.“‘ He was speaking of the Spirit which those who believed in him were to receive for there was no Spirit as yet because Jesus had not yet been glorified.” [*“belly” is the literal translation; the Greek word is koilia; Strong’s # 2836: “koy-lee’-ah; from koilo (hollow); a cavity, i.e. (spec.) the abdomen; by implication, the matrix; figuratively, the heart’belly, womb.”].
Some MSS have: “let him come to me, and let him who believes in me drink.”
There is a problem: this Greek passage can also be translated in another way:
“If anyone thirst,
let him come to me and drink.
He who believes in me as the Scripture says,
‘From within him shall flow rivers of living water.”
This alternative translation seems to make the believerthe source of the water instead of Jesus as the source as indicated in the first translation. We’ll call this translation which indicates the believer as the source translation #2 for the purposes of our discussion.
These few lines have been the subject of debate and discussion for centuries. There are two basic problems. The first we have already identified, who is the source of the water? Is the source Jesus or the believer? The second problem is what passage of Scripture is cited inverse 38 since Jesus says: “as the Scripture says”.
Question: Who is the source of the living water? Provide an argument for both translation #1 and translation #2.
Answer: Translation #1, the New Jerusalem translation, favors Jesus as the source while translation #2 favors the believer as the source.
Translation #2’s interpretation of the believer as the source is supported by the great biblical scholar Origen [185-235/4 AD] and is the dominant interpretation of most of the Eastern Catholic Fathers. One strong argument in favor of this translation is that it makes the phrase “He who believes” the beginning of a new construction rather than having that phrase come at the end of the previous sentence [Brown, page 320-321]. This pattern fits with John’s use of similar patterns using the phrase “he who believes” 41 times as the beginning of a construction. But I think the more important question should be is there any parallel in John for the idea of “living water” flowing from the believer instead of from Christ? There is none that I could find but there are Old Testament passages which would associate the believer with a flowing spring whose waters never run dry in Isaiah 58:11 and Sirach 24:30-33 identifying the faithful believer with a channel of water/ wisdom to others [also see Proverbs 5:15 and 18:4].
Now let’s look at the translation of these lines as they are written in the New Jerusalem Bible and the support for the interpretation of the living water flowing from Christ, translation #1:
“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me!
Let anyone who believes in me come and drink!
As scripture says. ‘From his heart shall flow streams of living water.’
He was speaking of the Spirit which those who believed in him were to receive for there was no Spirit as yet because Jesus had not yet been glorified.”
This is the Christological interpretation. This interpretation can be traced back to the 2ndcentury in the writings of Fathers of the Church including the great Catholic apologist St. Justin Martyr [martyred circa 155 AD], St. Hippolytus of Rome [martyred 235 AD], Tertullian [165-240AD], Sts. Cyprian [martyred 258AD], Irenaeus [martyred 202 AD] and Ephraim [373 AD], and is often called “the western interpretation” [Brown, page 320]. The arguments in favor the Christological interpretation are:
- It gives a connection between the thirsty man in line 1 [verse 37] who comes to Jesus and the believer who in line two [verse 38] drinks from Jesus.
- It fits Jesus’ description of Himself to the Samaritan woman in 4:10, 13-14 in which water represents the Holy Spirit.
- It supports John 19:34 where water flows from His side after His death on the cross and Old Testament Scripture passages that were read in association with this feast [i.e. Exodus 17 as explained in 1 Corinthians 10:1-5].
- It also parallel’s John’s vision in his other book, in Revelation 22:22 when John has a vision of a river of living water flowing from the Temple of the New Jerusalem which John tells us is Christ the Lamb and the Father [Revelation 21:22];
- Finally, according to John 7:39 the water is the Spirit and it is Jesus who gives the Spirit [John 19:30; 20:22]. In 1 John 5:7, St. John writes: So there are three witnesses, the Spirit, water and blood; and the three of them coincide.
The second problem is to which Biblical passage is Jesus referring in verse 38b: As scripture says. ‘From his heart shall flow streams of living water’? The problem is that the words quoted in John 7:38b do not exactly quote any one particular passage in either the Hebrew Old Testament or in the Greek Septuagint Old Testament translation. John may have phrased the passage this way because he wanted us to think of several different passages that are relevant which reference flowing streams of spiritual water. Scholars who favor the #2 passage interpretation favor Proverbs 5:15; 18:4; Isaiah 43:11; orSirach 24:30-33. But scholars who favor interpretation #1 point to the Biblical passages read proceeding and during the Feast of Tabernacles like Exodus 17 where Moses struck the Rock and water flowed from it as well as the “river of life” passages from Ezekiel 47:1-12 in which a river flowed out from under the threshold of the Temple’the “Pouring out Ceremony” at the altar during the Feast of Tabernacles was in memory of Ezekiel’s vision. But there are two other passages that may be part of Jesus’ reference to Scripture; one is Zechariah 14:1 and the other is Zechariah 14:8.
Question: Readings from Exodus chapter 17 were part of the Feast of Tabernacles liturgical service. In 1 Corinthians 10:1-5 St. Paul provides a spiritual interpretation of the events in Exodus 17:5-6 when Moses struck a rock and water began to miraculously flow out of the rock to save the children of Israel from their thirst. How does St. Paul identify the rock which gave the water of life to the children of Israel?
Answer: St. Paul testifies that the Rock is Christ. The Rock has always been seen in the early Church as a type of Christ and therefore this passage would favor the Christological interpretation of the source in verses 37-38.
Other Old Testament passages that support this interpretation areIsaiah 43:20; 44:21; 53:1-3; Deuteronomy 8:15; and Psalms 78:15-16, 23-24 which reads: “He split rock in the desert, let them drink as though from the limitless depths; he brought forth streams from a rock, made waters flow down in torrents. …Even so he gave orders to the skies above, he opened the sluice-gates of heaven; he rained down manna to feed them, he gave them the wheat of heaven…”
The other important Old Testament passages that parallel John 7:38 areZechariah 13:1 and 14:8. Zechariah 14:8 is associated with the Feast of Tabernacles and the Day of Yahweh when God will gather all nations to do battle against Jerusalem. Please read Zechariah 13:1-14:9 where the prophet is prophesizing 500 years before the Passion of Christ:
When that day comes, a fountain will be opened for the House of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to wash sin and impurity away. When that day comes’Yahweh declares’I shall cut off the names of the idols from the country, and they will never be remembered again.. [..] Awake, sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me’declares Yahweh Sabaoth! Strike the shepherd, scatter the sheep! (quoted in Matthew 26:31). […]. ..two-thirds in it will be cut off (be killed) and the other third will be left. I shall pass this third through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, test them as gold is tested. He will call on my name and I shall answer him; I shall say, ‘He is my people,’ and he will say, ‘Yahweh is my God!’ Look, the Day of Yahweh is coming, when the spoils taken from you will be shared out among you. For I shall gather all the nations to Jerusalem for battle. The city will be taken, the houses plundered, the women ravished. Half the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be rejected from the city. Then Yahweh will sally out and fight those nations as once he fought on the day of battle. When that day comes, his feet will rest on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west, forming a huge valley; half the Mount will recede northwards, the other half southwards. The valley between the hills will be filled in, yes, it will be blocked as far as Jasol, it will be filled in as it was by the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. And Yahweh my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. [..]. When that day comes, living waters will issue from Jerusalem, half towards the eastern sea, half towards the western sea; they will flow summer and winter. Then Yahweh will become king of the whole world. When that Day comes, Yahweh will be the one and only and his name the one name. [prophecy made circa 518 BC; Jasol or Jasul may be a place name for the Wadi Jasul, a tributary of the Kidron Valley east of Jerusalem. Amos 1:1 also refers to the earthquake in the time of King Uzziah in the mid 8th century BC in which valleys became blocked. Archaeological excavations at Hazor in the Upper Galilee have found evidence of a significant earthquake in the mid 8th century BC].
Zechariah’s prophecy recalls another prophecy made by Ezekiel. Both prophecies were made after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 587/6BC. Please read Ezekiel 47:1-12 and compare it with what will be a future prophecy in Revelation 7:17 and 22:1-17:
- Ezekiel 47:1-5, 12: He brought me back to the entrance of the Temple, where a stream flowed eastwards from under the Temple threshold, for the Temple faced east. The water flowed from under the right side of the Temple, south of the altar. He took me out by the north gate and led me right round outside as far as the outer east gate where the water flowed out on the right-hand side. The man went off to the east holding his measuring line and measured off a thousand cubits; he then made me wade across the stream; the water reached my ankles. He measured off another thousand and made me wade across the stream again; the water reached my knees. He measured off another thousand and made me wade across the stream again; the water reached my waist. He measured off another thousand; it was now a river which I could not cross;… [..] Along the river, on either bank, will grow every kind of fruit tree with leaves that never wither and fruit that never fails; they will bear new fruit every month, because this water comes from the sanctuary. And their fruit will be good to eat and the leaves medicinal.
- Revelation 7:17:…because the Lamb who is at the heart of the throne will be their shepherd and will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.
- Revelation 22:1-2, 17: Then the angel showed me the river of life, rising from the throne of God and of the Lamb and flowing crystal-clear. Down the middle of the city street, on either bank of the river were tree(s) of life, which bear twelve crops of fruit a year, one in each month, and the leaves of which are the cure for the nations. […] The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’ Let everyone who listens answer, ‘Come!’ Then let all who are thirsty come; all who want it may have the water of life, and have it free.
- Then the One sitting on the throne spoke. ‘Look, I am making the whole of creation new. Write this, “What I am saying is trustworthy and will come true.” Then he said to me, ‘It has already happened. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, I will give water from the well of life free to anybody who is thirsty, anyone who proves victorious will inherit these things; and I will be his God and he will be my son.
I agree with those scholars who date St. John’s vision in Revelation to circa 68AD, before the destruction of the Temple in 70AD, although some scholars date the letter to circa 90AD. Ezekiel’s vision is dated within the text to September-October 573 BC [Ezekiel 40:1], 14 years after the destruction of Solomon’s Temple and 66 years before the Second Temple is built. In his vision, Ezekiel sees a man:
- whose appearance was like brass [Ezekiel 40:3a, compare with Revelation 1:15: …his eyes like a burning flame, his feet like burnished bronze (brass)].
- He had a flax cord and a measuring rod in his hand [Ezekiel 40:3b compare with Revelation 11:1: Then I was given a long cane like a measuring rod and I was told, ‘Get up and measure God’s sanctuary… and 21:15-16 :The angel that was speaking to me was carrying a gold measuring rod to measure the city and its gates and wall. The plan of the city is perfectly square, its length the same as its breadth. Note: the Holy of Holies was a perfect square.]
- and was standing in the gateway (to the Temple) [Ezekiel 40:3c compare to Revelation 21:22-25: …the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb were themselves the temple, …. [..]. Its gates will never be closed by day’and there will be no night there…].
- He brought me back to the entrance of the Temple, where a stream flowed eastwards from under the Temple threshold… [Ezekiel 47:1 compare to Revelation 22:1ff: Then the angel showed me the river of life, rising from the throne of God and of the Lamb and flowing crystal-clear]
- Along the river, on either bank, will grow every kind of fruit tree with leaves that never wither and fruit that never fails; they will bear new fruit every month, because this water comes from the Sanctuary. And their fruit will be good to eat and the leaves medicinal. [Ezekiel 47:12 compared to Revelation 22:1-2: Then the angel showed me the river of life, rising from the throne of God and of the Lamb and flowing crystal-clear. Down the middle of the city street, on either bank of the river were tree(s) of life, which bear twelve crops of fruit in a year, one in each month, and the leaves of which are the cure for the nations.]
Like John chapter 7 the Ezekiel passage is associated with the Feast of Tabernacles; see Ezekiel 45:25. The “man” who has the “appearance of brass” takes Ezekiel to see the future Temple but this Temple is in the far distant future. It is not the Temple that will be built to replace Solomon’s Temple [completed circa 517 BC] which King Herod will begin refurbishing in the late 1stcentury BC to become one of the great buildings of antiquity:
Ezekiel 47:1, He brought me back to the entrance of the Temple, where a stream flowed eastwards from under the Temple threshold, for the Temple faced east. The water flowed from under the right side of the Temple, south of the altar. He took me out by the north gate and led me right round outside as far as the outer east gate where the water flowed out on the right-hand side.
What I find so interesting about these passages in John chapter 7, in Zechariah and in Ezekiel is if you compare them to John’s vision in Revelation there is the same parallelism:
- the Temple [in John’s Gospel 7:14, Ezekiel 40:5; 47:5, and Revelation 21:22]
- the river/fountain flowing with abundant water [from the middle of the Temple in Ezekiel 47:1; and Revelation 22:1; Zechariah in John’s Gospel promised from the “belly” of Jesus; in Zechariah 13:1 from the House of David and “living waters” in 14:8; Jesus is of the House of David]
In the Ezekiel and Revelation:
In John’s Gospel and in Ezekiel:
In John’s Gospel, in Zechariah and in Revelation
If you take the words of “the One sitting on the throne” in Revelation 21:6: I will give water from the well of life free to anybody who is thirsty.. and John’s vision inRevelation 22:17: He showed me the river of life…flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, there is a very close parallel for the idea and words of John 7:37-38, which has been prefigured in the Ezekiel and Zechariah passages. In both the Revelation passage and in Ezekiel the river is flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb which is, of course, the Temple. As we are told in Revelation, the future glorious Temple of the New Jerusalem is in fact God and Christ the Lamb! Revelation 21:22 “I could not see any temple in the city since the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb were themselves the temple,….” This fits with Ezekiel 47: 1 “…a stream flowed eastwards from under the Temple threshold,..” [in other words from the belly or heart of the Temple]; Zechariah 13:1 “When that day comes, a fountain will be opened for the House of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to wash sin and impurity away.“; 14:8 “When that Day comes, living waters will issue from Jerusalem..” And now John 7:37-38 “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me! Let anyone who believes in me come and drink!”
John 7:39: there was no Spirit as yet because Jesus had not been glorified.
Jesus was referring to the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit after His ascension at the second great Pentecost. This is not to suggest that God the Holy Spirit had not been active in salvation history prior to Pentecost. When the prophets of the Old Testament speak they are inspired by the Holy Spirit [2Peter 1:21] and there are countless other passages in which we see the activity and power of the Spirit; for example:
- There is the manifestation of the Spirit in the pillar of fire and pillar of cloud in the Book of Exodus [Exodus 13:21-22].
- God the Holy Spirit overshadowed the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation [Luke 1:35]
- The Holy Spirit gave John the Baptist’s father Zechariah the prophecy of Luke 1:67-79
- He inspired Simeon and Anna to recognize Jesus as the Messiah when he was brought to the Temple as a baby [Luke 2:25-38]
- The Holy Spirit overshadowed Jesus at His baptism [Matthew 3:16-17].
- Jesus breathed out the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles in the Upper Room on the day of His Resurrection in John 20:22: After saying this he breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy spirit…’.
Prior to Pentecost God’s Spirit rested on and indwelled those chosen by God but after Pentecost God’s Spirit would abundantly fill and indwell the Church and cover the earth since Christ has conquered sin and death and all creation was redeemed through His sacrificial act!
CCC# 694 “…..the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified as its source and welling up in us to eternal life.”
CCC# 728 “Jesus does not reveal the Holy Spirit fully, until he himself has been glorified through his Death and Resurrection. Nevertheless, little by little he alludes to him even in his teaching of the multitudes, as when he reveals that his own flesh will be food for the life of the world. He also alludes to the Spirit in speaking to Nicodemus, to the Samaritan woman, and to those who take part in the feast of Tabernacles. To his disciples he speaks openly of the Spirit in connection with prayer and with the witness they will have to bear.”
John 7:40-44: Some of the crowd who had been listening said, ‘He is indeed the prophet,’ some said, ‘He is the Christ,’ but others said, ‘Would the Christ come from Galilee? Does not scripture say that the Christ must be descended from David and come from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” So the people could not agree about him. Some wanted to arrest him, but no one actually laid a hand on him.
Question: What is Jesus’ identification as the prophet in verse 40 connected to? Why are the people confused?
Answer: The prophet like Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15-20. The people knew the prophecy that the Messiah will come from King David’s lineage and they knew Micah’s prophecy of the Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem and so they are confused about His origins. He is supposed to be a Judean not a Galilean.
John 7:45-49 The guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees who said to them, ‘Why haven’t you brought him?’ The guards replied, ‘No one has ever spoken like this man.’ ‘So’, the Pharisees answered, ‘you too have been led astray? Have any of the authorities come to believe in him? Any of the Pharisees? This rabble knows nothing about the Law’they are damned.’
You can imagine the frustration of the Sanhedrin authorities. Jesus has won a following among the crowds, the Temple police are impressed with Him, and in the next verses even one of their own members dares to raise his voice in defense of Jesus of Nazareth! Isn’t it ironic that those who were the leaders of God’s Holy Covenant Church could not recognize Jesus as the Messiah! They were so complacent and so sure of their own superiority that they held everyone else in contempt! They had come to think that they were the Church instead of the people of God as the Church. We shouldn’t feel too superior to the Old Covenant Church. After all, often one generation of the hierarchy of the New Covenant Church of Jesus Christ will condemn those called by Christ to special service while the next generation makes them saints! St. Therese of Avila was called before the Inquisition, St. John of the Cross was threatened with being dismissed from holy orders, St. Ignatius of Loyola was beaten by his superiors, and the list goes on.
Question: What shocking accusation did the Pharisee leaders make about the common people?
Answer: That they were damned! This shows the contempt of those educated in the Law for the ordinary untutored people. One of their chief criticisms of Jesus was the question of authority; where was His degree in theology and how dare He presume to teach in the Temple! In both the Old and New Testaments the teaching is very clear: do not attempt to quench the spirit of God by preventing someone called by God from teaching the truth; see Numbers 11:27-29 and Mark 9:38-40.
John 7:50-52 One of them, Nicodemus’the same man who had come to Jesus earlier’said to them, ‘But surely our Law does not allow us to pass judgment on anyone without first giving him a hearing and discovering what he is doing?’ To this they answered, ‘Are you a Galilean too? Go into the matter, and see for yourself: prophets do not arise in Galilee.’
Notice that the authorities dismiss Nicodemus’ suggestion that they go and listen to Jesus’ teaching themselves. They were condemning what they hadn’t even heard. They also attempt to insult Nicodemus by calling him a Galilean. Jerusalemites considered the northerners unsophisticated hicks.
Question: What did Jesus accuse the authorities of in verse 19 and how does that apply here?
Answer: He accused them of not keeping the Law. They have already condemned Jesus without a hearing and without determining His background. Exodus 23:1warns against accepting false testimony and Deuteronomy 1:16 cautions that both sides of any case must be heard.
Question: Were the Pharisees correct in stating that prophets did not come from the Galilee? Had any Old Testament prophet ever come from the Galilee? Hint: see 2 Kings 14:25
Answer: Yes, the prophet Jonah, to whom Jesus often refers in Matthew’s Gospel, came from Gath-Hepher, a Galilean town. The Pharisees and judges of the Sanhedrin didn’t know Scripture as well as they thought! Their problem with Jesus was the jealousy of the quality of His teaching and the support He had from the common people.
We should remember that not only were Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea [another possible member of the Sanhedrin] secret disciples of Jesus, but there were many others who believed, those among the poor as well as those of influence and education, including those who were Pharisees and Priests. In Acts 6:7 we are told that after Pentecost …a large number of priests made their submission to the faith. And in Acts 21:20 St James, the first Christian Bishop of Jerusalem, assures St. Paul, You see, brother, how thousands of Jews have now become believers, all of them staunch upholders of the Law.
Jesus appealed to the religious authorities of Jerusalem to believe in Him because of the Father’s works that He accomplished. The Catechism teaches: ….but such an act of faith must go through a mysterious death to self, for a new “birth from above” under the influence of divine grace. Such a demand for conversion in the face of so surprising a fulfillment of the promises allows one to understand the Sanhedrin’s tragic misunderstanding of Jesus: they judged that he deserved the death sentence as a blasphemer. The members of the Sanhedrin were thus acting at the same time out of “ignorance” and the “hardness” of their “unbelief.” CCC# 591
One final comment on this great Feast of Tabernacles: Before the fall of the Tower of Babel there were 70 men named who founded 70 families/nations. These nations were scattered across the face of the earth [Genesis 10-11]. At Mt. Sinai God organized His holy nation Israel as a model of the world, giving Israel 70 Elders in Exodus 24:1 [Jesus followed this pattern for the New Covenant Church by sending out 70 disciples in Luke 10:1]. Hundreds of years later when the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah fell into apostasy and failed to observe their covenant obligations, God brought His judgment upon His covenant people. The Northern Kingdom of Israel was destroyed in 722BC and of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, and Solomon’s Temple, was destroyed in 587/6BC. At that time, the Jews had stopped keeping the Feast of Tabernacles. In fact, they forgot it completely until their return from the Babylonian exile 70 years later. During the period of return, renewal, and restoration, God enlightened the minds of the prophets to understand the significance of this feast as a prophecy that is acted-out for the conversion of all nations [the reason why 70 bulls were sacrificed for the sins of the nations during the feast]. In August of 520BC, Yahweh spoke through the prophet Haggai on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles in Haggai chapter 2: [2:1-9]“On the 21st day of the seventh month [7thday of the feast of Tabernacles]…..(verses 7-9) I shall shake all the nations and the treasure of all the nations [believers]will flow in, and I shall fill this Temple with glory says Yahweh Sabaoth, Mine is the silver, mine the gold’Yahweh Sabaoth declares. The glory of this new Temple[Christ] will surpass that of the old, says Yahweh Sabaothi, and in this place I shall give peace’Yahweh Sabaothi declares.i
Two years later in the fall of 518 BC, Yahweh also spoke through His prophet Zechariah to prophesy to the people concerning the meaning of the Feast of Shelters/Tabernacles in terms of the conversion and salvation of all the nations of the earth in Zechariah 14:16-21. Hundreds of years later on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall of AD 29 Jesus of Nazareth, the Prophet of Yahweh, declares the true meaning of this feast. He tells us in John 7:37-38, that this feast signifies the outpouring of the Spirit upon the restored believer so that the Church will become a means of restoration to all the nations of the world! God’s holy Covenant people are called to be a nation of priests [Exodus 19:6; 1Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6] who are chosen to bring the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ into a world darkened by sin. It is the Church’s mission to call all nations to the fountain of salvation, the living water of the Spirit that flows from Christ. The invitation is for all people to come and drink deeply and receive the gift of eternal life, and it is our mission, as the New Covenant Church to carry that message of salvation to the nations of the earth.
|THE SEVEN SACRED ANNUAL FEASTS OF THE OLD COVENANT:
The sacrifices of remembrance
Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them:
‘These are my appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of Yahweh, which
you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.‘ Leviticus 23:1-2
Then never let anyone criticize you for what you eat or drink, or about observance of annual festivals, [..].. These are only a shadow of what was coming; the reality is the body of Christ. Colossians 2:16-17
* = Pilgrim feasts: Exodus 23:14-17; 34:18-23; Deuteronomy 16:1-16
|SACRED FEAST||OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURE REFERENCE||OLD TESTAMENT / MODERN TIME||DESCRIPTION Old Testament and application New Testament|
| PASSOVER (begins the liturgical year)
-Signified the Redemption of Israel
|Ex 12:1-4; Lev 23:5;
Num 9:1-14; Num 28:16
Dt 16:1-3, 4-7;
Mt 26:17; Mk 14:12-26;
Jn 2:13; Jn 11:55;
1 Cor 5:7;
| 14th Aviv (Nisan)
| Old Testament: Slaying and eating a lamb or kid, Remembering Israel’s deliverance from death, the 10th plague.
N.T.= last legitimate Old Covenant Passover sacrifice
| *UNLEVENED BREAD
-Signified the Sanctification of the Israel
|Ex 12:15-20; 39; Ex 13:3-10; Ex 23:15; Ex 34:18;
Dt 16:3, 4, 8;
1 Cor 5:6-8
| 15-21 Aviv (Nisan)
7 day feast
| Old Testament: Eating the Passover sacrifice in a sacrificial meal.
This feast lasted 7 days (8 if Passover is counted) in which eating bread with yeast (the symbol of sin) is forbidden. Remembering how Yahweh redeemed Israel out of Egypt in haste and that they are called to be a “holy people”. Making designated daily offerings.
N.T.= The Last Supper/first Eucharistic sacrifice and the Crucifixion
This feast is no longer observed in Rabbinic Judaism (only the “firstfruits” of the wheat harvest at the Feast of Weeks is observed today)
-Signified Resurrection of Israel as a free people
|Ex 23:19; 34:26;
1 Cor 15:20-23
| The day after the first Sabbath after Passover (Lev. 23:11) = Sunday
| Old Testament: Presenting a sheaf of the first barley harvest as a wave offering; making a burnt offering and a grain offering. Recognizing the redemption of the first-born in Egypt and recognizing God’s bounty in the Promised Land.
N.T. = Resurrection Sunday
(PENTECOST=50th day in Greek)
(SHAVUOT or HAG HASHAVUOT) also known as FEAST OF THE HARVEST (HAG HAKATZIR)
-Signified the Origination of Israel as the Covenant people Of Yahweh
|Ex 23:16; 34:22a;
Act 2:1-4; 20:16;
1 Cor 16:8
May/June 50 days after Firstfruits = on a Sunday
| Old Testament: A festival of joy; mandatory and voluntary offerings including the firstfruits of the wheat harvest.
Recalling the giving of the Law at Sinai 50 days after crossing the Red Sea and thankfulness for the Lord’s blessings and birth of the O.T. Church.
N.T.=birth of New Covenant Church
THE LONG SUMMER HARVEST
beginning of the civil year.
-Signified the calling Israel to judgment
1 Cor. 15:52;
1 Thes. 4:16
| Old Testament: Ingathering of the nation of Israel. A sacred assembly and a day of rest commemorated with trumpet blasts and sacrifices. Israel presents itself before the Lord for his favor.
N.T. = The Second Coming of Christ?
DAY OF ATONEMENT (YOM KIPUR)
Heb 9:7; 10:3, 30-31; 10:19-22;
Rev 17:4 & 20:12
| 10 Tishri
| Old Testament: A day of rest, fasting and sacrifices of atonement for priests and people and atonement for the tabernacle and altar. Cleanse people and priests and people from their sins and purify the Holy Place in the Temple.
N.T.= The Great Judgment ?
also called FEAST OF SHELTERS OR BOOTHS
-Signified God’s presence with His Covenant people; looked forward to the coming of the Messiah
|Ex 23:16b; 34:22b;
Lev 23:33-36; 39-43;
1 Kings 8:3 & 65;
2 Chr 7:1;
2 Pt 3:7, 10 &13;
| 15-22 Tishri
8 day feast
| Old Testament: A week of celebration for the fruit harvest (grapes & olives); living in booths and offering sacrifices. Memorializes the giving of the Tabernacle and giving thanks for the productivity of the land.
NT = Creation of the new heaven & earth?
* The 3 pilgrim Feasts: every Israelite male, 13 years or older, must present himself to Yahweh three times a year at the Temple in Jerusalem at the Feast of Unleavened Bread (the 7 day feast following the Passover sacrifice), the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), and at the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths); see Exodus 23:14-17; 34:18-23; Deuteronomy 16:16; & 2 Chronicles 8:13. The first three feasts: Passover (which begins the liturgical year), the Feast Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Firstfruits all fall in the same month within an 8 day period. The last three feasts: the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles (which ends the liturgical year), also falls within the same month, with the Feast of Tabernacles covering an 8-day period. If the 7 Sacred Feasts are a blueprint for God’s plan of salvation then we are presently in the period of “the long summer harvest”, and the laborers in God’s vineyard are gathering souls into God’s storehouse of heaven. Colossians 2:16-17: Then never let anyone criticize you for what you eat or drink, or about observance of annual festivals, New Moons or Sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what was coming: the reality is the body of Christ.
ADDITIONAL SACRED FEASTS
Weekly Feast of the Sabbath: The Sabbath is the 7thday of the week, commemorating the 7th day of Creation when God “rested” and was set aside as a special day of rest for the people to worship and commune with God. It was the only day of the week that was named. The Sabbath obligation was first announced in Exodus 16:23-29 in the wilderness on the way to Sinai and was associated with the event of the giving of the manna, which prefigured the Most Holy Eucharist. Other references to this obligation are repeated in Exodus 20:8-11 (10 Commandments);31:13-16 (repeated after the sin of the Golden Calf); 35:2-3; Leviticus 23:3; and numerous references throughout the Old and New Testaments. Sacrifices: The 2 the daily Tamid lambs were doubled (see Numbers 28:4-10) and were accompanied by the prescribed wheat cake and wine libation.
Periodic Feasts (monthly and holy year feasts):
- New Moon Feasts: A calendar feast which marked the beginning of each lunar month, celebrated with sacrifices and feasting. The official calendar of the covenant people was a lunar calendar and was designated by a religious or liturgical calendar which began in the spring with the month of Nisan or the civil calendar which began in the month of Tishri in the early fall. All religious feasts were commanded to be determined by the lunar calendar, even in Jesus’ time when it had been determined that the solar calendar was more accurate. In addition to the daily Tamid, sacrifices included a goat offered as a sacrifice for sin along with its accompanying wine libation. Also offered for each New Moon sacrifice were: 2 young bulls, 1 ram and 7 yearling lambs without blemish. A grain offering accompanied each sacrifice: for a bull three tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; for each ram, two-tenths of fine flour mixed with iol for each lamb one-tenth of fine flour mixed with oil. A libation of half a hin of wine accompanied the sacrifice fro a bull, one-third of a hin for a ram and one-quarter of a hin for a lamb. Numbers 10:10; 28:11-15; 1 Samuel 20:18; 1 Chronicles 23:31; 2 Chronicles 4:8; 8:13; 31:3; Ezra 3:5; Nehemiah 10:33; Isaiah 1:13-14; Ezekiel 45:17; 46:3; Hosea 2:11, 13; Amos 8:5; Colossians 2:16.
- Sabbath Year Feasts: Every 7th year was designated a Sabbath year of the Lord in which the land “rested.” The obligations for the Sabbath year are found in Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25:1-7; 18-22; and Deuteronomy 15:1-11: the land must be “at rest” and cannot be sown nor can vines be pruned for a year. This holy year feast reminded the people that the land belonged to Yahweh. In addition to the rest for the land, all Israelites held as slaves were released from bondage in the 7th year and debts were forgiven; although there is some confusion as to whether this release from bondage was always in the Sabbath year or in the 7th year from when the Israelite was placed in bondage [also see Nehemiah 10:32].
- Jubilee Feasts: Scholars do not agree on how the date of this feast was determined, whether the 49th or 50th year. For me the Biblical account is clear: counting 7 weeks of years, or 49 years from the last Sabbath year, on the change of the civil year in the fall during the Feast Trumpets the 49th year becomes the 7th Sabbath year. Then, 10 days after the New Year celebrated on the Feast of Trumpets, the 50th year is proclaimed on the Feast of Atonement and is celebrated as a the beginning of the year long Jubilee. This arrangement allowed the Jubilee year to fall on a Sabbath year and helped to adjust the shorter lunar calendar; otherwise there would be two continuous years of no sowing of the fields and no harvest. This feast provided a holy year of liberation in which the observances of the Sabbath year were enforced in addition to the return of the land to its original tribal owner. This holy feast allowed the Israelites to show the same mercy to each other that Yahweh had shown to them in the event of the Exodus: captives were liberated, debts were forgiven, and Yahweh’s land was “at rest” to be given to the covenant people again the next year. This holy year observance assured that social justice as maintained among the covenant people. Jesus declared a divine Jubilee in the first year of His ministry when He quoted from Isaiah 61:1-2. Only a king of Israel or a High Priest could proclaim a Jubilee year. Jesus announced He was the Messianic Davidic heir when He proclaimed a divine Jubilee in Luke 4:16-22 [see Leviticus 25:9-52; 27:17-25; Numbers 36:2-4]. Both the 7 yearly Sabbath Year Feast and the Jubilee Feasts were dropped by the covenant people soon after taking possession of the Promised Land. Greed and a lack of social conscience led to the failure to observe these feasts. It was for this reason that Yahweh commended a 70 year exile for Judah to atone for the 490 years of failure to keep the Sabbath Year Feasts. The people owed Yahweh 70 Sabbath years and so the land lay fallow for 70 years before the return from exile. There is no evidence that the Babylonians brought any other group of people into the Holy Land to occupy the land in those 70 years.
National Feasts inaugurated by the people and not by Yahweh:
- Purim (Adar = February/March), which celebrates the salvation of the Jews from gentile persecution in the Book of Esther (Esther 9:18-32).
- Hanukkah (or Chanukah), celebrated in the month of Kislev (December), the feast of the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem described in the Book of Maccabees, are not festivals ordained by God but are instead festivals proclaimed by the people to celebrate an historical event which demonstrated God’s divine intervention and protection of the Covenant people. Jesus observed the Feast of Hanukkah in John 10:22.
Please note that sometime shortly after the resurrection of Christ the Jewish religious authority adjusted the dates of the annual Feast of Firstfruits and the next feast which was celebrated 50 days from Firstfruits, the Feast of Pentecost. They began to celebrate the Feast of Firstfruits on the day after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, on the 16th of Nisan so that feast would not be fulfilled in Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead. This meant that from that time on Firstfruits and Pentecost would no longer fall annually on a Sunday. The “great Sabbath” of Passover week was also then considered to be the week prior to the week long feast instead of in the midst of that holy week.
However, the Karaite sect of Judaism, which claims descent from the Sadducees, continues to celebrate Firstfruits on the day after the first Sabbath of Passover week, on a Sunday, and Pentecost on a Sunday 50 days later just as commanded in Leviticus 23:11. The Karaites are also the only Jews who continue to celebrate the Feast of Firstfruits. Both Orthodox and Reform Jews count Pentecost as 50 days from the 16th of Nisan. For verification of this change see Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 13.8.4 (252) where this first century AD Jewish historian and former Old Covenant Priest writes: And truly he did not speak falsely in saying so; for the festival, which we call Pentecost, did then fall out to be the next day to the Sabbath … Josephus offers evidence that the festival of Pentecost used to always fall on a Sunday, the day next to the Sabbath which was Saturday. The feast of Pentecost was determined by counting 7 times 7 weeks from the Feast of Firstfruits and the 50th day would then be the Feast of Pentecost. Josephus’ statement means that Firstfruits also used to be celebrated on a Sunday [see Leviticus 23:11], foreshadowing God’s plan that the Christ should be resurrected on the Feast of Firstfruits on a Sunday and that the birth of the New Covenant Church would be on the Sunday of the Feast of Pentecost!