Chapter 7:11-24 (ESV) - The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him.
About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man's whole body well? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
Question to consider: What was the “one work” that Jesus did which sparked their plot against Him?
After arguing with His brothers about when the right time was for Jesus to reveal Himself publicly as the most holy one promised to Daniel who: would finish the transgression, put an end to sin, atone for iniquity, bring in everlasting righteousness, and seal both vision and prophet, (Daniel 9:24) Jesus went down to Jerusalem in secret to participate the feast of Tabernacles.
The feast was defined in Leviticus 23:33-43, and was a required feast for all the men of Israel. It was the last of the feasts and celebrated God’s provision and the deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt. The people stayed in tents of their own design as a way of participating in the wilderness with their ancestors.
It is also worth noting that the people dedicated the altar in the rebuilding of the temple at the time of Ezra during this feast. (Ezra 3:4) I believe John mentioned Jesus’ private trip to establish that Jesus kept God’s command to participate in this feast and as the preparation of His own sacrifice in the temple of His body six months later. Part of that preparation was to teach those in Jerusalem who were not plotting to kill Him. Of course, it didn’t take long for the self-appointed teachers of Israel to take notice, for He definitely did not look like a fellow Pharisee.
When Jesus was given the opportunity to study under the rabbis when He was twelve years old (Luke 2:41-52), He instead honored His father and mother and came back to Nazareth to learn Joseph’s trade. During that time, He grew in the wisdom that God provided through the scriptures to the point where He confounded those who deemed themselves as scholars.
Jesus pointed out to them a key component of discernment. A true teacher of Israel sought not his own glory but to glorify God. All of scripture brings glory to Christ. If someone interprets scripture through the lens of their own life or glory rather than lifting up Christ, it is a safe bet that it is teaching to avoid.
When Jesus confronted those who were seeking to kill Him, we learn that it stemmed from Christ healing the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6). It was at this point that Jesus had pointed out that their hearts were hardened toward the mercy of God. Jesus again pointed out that they didn’t consider circumcision as “work” on the Sabbath because it was in line with the Law of Moses. Ultimately, the work of circumcision didn’t violate the Sabbath because it was the work of God. The same held true for Jesus in healing the man’s hand.
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving us the scriptures that point us to Christ and Your mercy. Help us to be the instruments of Your work in the world in making disciples: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all that You have commanded. Amen.