Monday September 4
10 But after his brothers left for the festival, Jesus also went, though secretly, staying out of public view. 11 The Jewish leaders tried to find him at the festival and kept asking if anyone had seen him.
Last week, we heard Jesus say this: “I’m not going to this festival.” The text for today says he did go. So, what gives? Is Jesus wishy washy or is he lying? Is John, the writer, confused? No, to all of this. The Greek word used by John for “not” also means “not yet.” Some of the earliest Bible translations use, “not yet.” OK, what next?
Jesus is concerned about the Jewish leaders wanting to kill him. He goes to the big Feast of Booths festival in Jerusalem secretly. The last time Jesus was in Jerusalem for a festival, he healed the man who couldn’t walk, at the pool of Bethsaida, the one who took up his mat and walked where everyone could see him. The Jewish leaders are upset and they accuse Jesus of breaking the Jewish sabbath law. He is a threat to their power and their understanding of God’s ways. We read last week: “Jesus (He) wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death.”
Well, now that he has decided to go secretly to Jerusalem we can see why he ought to be concerned. The Jewish leaders are, indeed, looking for him. With an estimated 2-3 million people in Jerusalem during festival time, I don’t know how they plan on finding him! But, they are not going to let it go. He is that much of a threat.
How are you seen as a threat to others because you follow Jesus?
Tuesday September 5
12 There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds. Some argued, “He’s a good man,” but others said, “He’s nothing but a fraud who deceives the people.”
The Jewish leaders are on to something. The people in Jerusalem do know Jesus! At least they have heard of him and have their opinions.
He’s a good guy!
Who is a good person? According to Micah 6:8:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Let’s break this down.
“Act justly.” To know right from wrong and do what is right.
“Love mercy.” This is special love that mimics God’s love. To view people as God views them.
“Walk humbly with your God.” Depending upon God and not our own abilities. An attitude of the heart.
Now these three attributes are seen modeled in the life of Jesus. So, some are right. He is a good person. Of course, Jesus is much more than that, but these people are not wrong.
Others have a bad opinion of Jesus. They say, “He’s nothing but a fraud who deceives the people.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. But when someone opposes truth, they will use any means to bring confusion.
And these people are not just making a casual observation. In a way, they are really saying Jesus ought to be condemned. How?
In their own Bible, in Deuteronomy 13, there is a warning about people who are frauds. God is speaking to his people and he says,
“Suppose there are prophets among you or those who dream dreams about the future, and they promise you signs or miracles, 2 and the predicted signs or miracles occur. If they then say, ‘Come, let us worship other gods’—gods you have not known before— 3 do not listen to them. The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul. 4 Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him. 5 The false prophets or visionaries who try to lead you astray must be put to death, for they encourage rebellion against the Lord your God, who redeemed you from slavery and brought you out of the land of Egypt. Since they try to lead you astray from the way the Lord your God commanded you to live, you must put them to death. In this way you will purge the evil from among you.
Also in the days of Jesus, when the word “deceive”or “deceiver” is used, this points to the devil.
Here is one such passage.
And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Jesus is in serious danger if the Jewish leaders and many others consider Jesus a deceiver in league with the devil. He must be stopped!
Who is considered a good person in media and our education system today? What might Jesus say about that?
Wednesday September 6
13 But no one had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.
Last week, I talked about the Christians throughout the world who are actually being killed because of their faith in Jesus. When you consider it, this is is a sign of weakness as well as evil in those who oppose Jesus.
When you think it through logically, there is a weakness with your own viewpoint if you are attempting to silence someone who thinks differently. Christians are encouraged to test out our faith compared to others. In fact, this is where the whole concept of freedom of speech comes from originally. Out of the biblical teaching of testing the spirits. 1 Thessalonians 5:21, for instance.
21 but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.
This is a key strength of Christianity at its best. When you take the model and teachings of Jesus and the best practices of those who follow him, and then lay it on the table compared to any other religion or philosophy at their best, Christianity is clearly the strongest view of reality.
Christians at their best will never force, brow beat or manipulate others to try to get them to follow Jesus. It isn’t necessary. We simply share the compassion of Jesus with everyone, and share his teaching with those who are receptive. This includes something as simple as sharing why we personally follow Jesus.
Why do you follow Jesus? Write your answer down.
Thursday September 7
14 Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach. 15 The people were surprised when they heard him. “How does he know so much when he hasn’t been trained?” they asked.
Jesus decides to go public on his terms. He teaches directly at the Temple where the Jewish religious teachers, the rabbis, would teach. Rabbis of his day would choose their own students, but some would also share their teachings outside the Temple at a special area by the entrance steps.
Rabbis were always students of rabbis. In the days of Jesus, the best and the brightest young men were chosen to be students by their rabbi. Jesus didn’t have an earthly rabbi. He had the teaching and model of God the Father. Who does he think he is?
We notice this same attitude today. To be considered wise you are a university professor. These are the people who get interviewed on TV. Or an author. Usually they are one and the same.
I don’t trust someone with a credential without testing what they are teaching. You can have all the degrees in the world and be as dumb as a bag of hammers.
You have to remember the savior we follow is the most brilliant man who ever lived. So, I especially have issues with an intellectual who is speaking on ultimate issues of life and reality, whose teachings don’t match those of Jesus. I don’t care what university you went to, you are not a man or woman of wisdom.
Jesus went right to the source.
Pray for wisdom when you are facing difficult problems at work or school. Bring you concerns to Jesus.
Friday September 8
16 So Jesus told them, “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me.17 Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. 18 Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies.
In the final analysis, what is the life being led by the person who is following a model and set of teachings? God makes it possible for us to know which way to go. We see this as we look to Jesus.
If I say I am a Christian, but am angry and vindictive, for instance, it isn’t Jesus who is at fault for my attitude and actions. It is only if I want to do the will of God that I am seeking the truth. If I know my anger and vindictiveness are ungodly and repent of them, knowing the struggle is real, then I will invite the Spirit of God to cleanse me and seek forgiveness from those whom I wrong. We can follow Jesus without being jerks about it, after all.
Instead we are wise to seek to be more Christlike in the way we live our lives. What is the alternative? It may look like we can cut corners and follow what we want out of life, but we are fooling ourselves. As Jesus said, ‘We can gain all that the world thinks is important and lose our souls.’
Lose that which connects us most to God. Lose his truth.
If we want what Jesus wants for us, this is what life looks like.
Matthew 7:7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”
Read John 7:19-30.