Who do you think Jesus is?

“Who is Jesus?” is a divisive question. John’s Gospel, chapter 7, surveys a variety of opinions about who Jesus is, but not by way of offering a theological smorgasbord. Rather, the multiple answers to the question of Jesus’ identity are intended by John to have you listen to Jesus’ unique authority (“No one ever spoke the way this man does,”) and to respond as a disciple of Jesus. Jesus had come to Jerusalem in the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles and had begun teaching in the Temple. Jesus made clear that he was from God: “I know him because I am from him and he sent me” (John 7:29). Speculations that he was the Christ motivated the chief priests and Pharisees to send Temple guards to arrest him (unsuccessfully, as we see).

Jesus graciously invites the thirsty to come to him and drink, promising that rivers of living water will flow from them. His hearers begin to Continue reading “Who do you think Jesus is?”

Are You Thirsty?

Here in the Willamette Valley we may find it more difficult to relate to drought, not only compared to some who live in other parts of our country, but especially to those lived in the arid Middle East. The theme of God’s river-like grace flows through Scripture, from the rivers that watered the Garden of Eden, including the river of Psalm 1 and Psalm 46, Isaiah 12:3; 55:1, Ezekiel 47; Zechariah 14:8; and culminating in Revelation 22. These passages describe God’s faithful provision of water, both physical and as a symbol of the salvation he offers.

Celebration and joy marked the Feast of Tabernacles. Not only was it a harvest feast, but as the people of Israel lived in booths or tents (thus the “Feast of Tabernacles”) for a week they recalled the care that God had provided during Continue reading “Are You Thirsty?”

Going up to the Feast of Tabernacles–or Not

Jesus forces you to make a decision about himself, his words and his works. He calls you to make a right judgment, John 7:24, but that right judgment about Jesus involves the whole direction of your life. It means choosing to do God’s will, John 7:16. Are you going to stand at a distance from him, evaluating him by your standards? Or, will you bow in humble worship and serve him?

To go up to the feast or not? John frames portions of the ministry of Jesus in the context of Jewish feasts. The important teaching on the bread of life is given in connection with the Passover, John 6. Now, about six months later, as John 7 begins, is Sukkoth, the Feast of Booths, or, Tabernacles. That feast (read about it in Leviticus 23:33-44) was a combination of a harvest-thanksgiving celebration and remembering God’s provision during the time that Israel was in the wilderness. Often this was the best attended of the feasts in Jerusalem, and included a week-long celebration. Children joined in shaking lulavim and the etrog or citron was a tasty treat. The people built booths to remember Continue reading “Going up to the Feast of Tabernacles–or Not”