Summary: We need to hear the truth about Jesus from the Scripture.
About Time You Got Here
Last week we heard the gossip from the crowds about Jesus. There were all kinds of speculation about him. Some of the comments were good, but many were critical. Who was right? This could only be solved by Jesus Himself.
Exposition of the Text
Verse 14 tells us that Jesus did indeed come to the feast. This seems to contradict what Jesus had said to his brothers. However if we take Jesus to mean that he would not go to the feast at this time, then his coming in the middle of the feast would indicate that He intended to come to the feast at the time of his Father's choosing and reveal Himself there by the means which the Father had appointed.
Jesus' brothers had told Him that He needed to come to the feast and prove Himself to the people there by doing miraculous works. Their reasoning had been that this would overcome the hostility of the Jews of Jerusalem and show that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. However, when Jesus comes to the feast, He reveals Himself to the Jewish people at the feast by teaching in the Temple rather than by doing signs and wonders. The mention of Jesus teaching the people publicly in John is rare, but the public teaching ministry of Jesus is common in the other gospels, The gospel of Mark seems to imply that Jesus placed more value on His teaching than miracles as a means of bringing people to faith. The time He spent in healing and casting out demons diverted energy and time from His teaching.
Jesus probably started by teaching His disciples. But as the Temple was a public place thronged by crowds all over the world who had come to the feast, it was not long before a large crowd assembled. I do not think they recognized that this was the Jesus who had been the talk of the town. Everyone was expressing one sort of opinion or another about Him. Like, most opinions, they are based on hearsay rather than direct contact. Hearsay is not a reliable source of information. In fact hearsay evidence is not allowed in court when it is based upon: “Mr. X told me that Mr. Y said such and such to Mr. Z. The court would demand to hear the testimony from either Mr. y or Mr. Z. As the Gospel of John uses the theme of witness extensively, it would only be valid to hear Jesus' teaching from His own mouth.
The crowd had been expecting Jesus the miracle worker use signs and wonders to authenticate Himself to the people that He was a prophet sent by God. Instead, He authenticates Himself to the people by means of His teaching. And the crowds who had overheard the teaching were being amazed by His teaching and gathered around to hear more. The crowd also attracted His enemies. John usually uses the label :the Jews: in a negative light as being the opponents of Jesus. They had dealt with Him before, so they recognized Him as being the one who had healed a lame man on the Sabbath. The result of that healing was that Jesus got into an extended dispute with them. It said the result of this healing was that the Jews looked for the opportunity to kill Him. We are constantly reminded of this in chapter seven.
The opponents of Jesus in the group were taken back at His teaching. For them the marvel wasn't so marvelous. I have to agree with Lenski that what the Jews in verse 15 are saying something to this effect: What right does this man have to teach in the Temple, seeing he hasn't been certified by the Rabbinic schools?” We can see from elsewhere in this passage that the Jews had done some research on Jesus and that they believed His father to be Joseph. They knew His mother was Mary of Nazareth. It seems that the opponents of Jesus worked methodically so that they could build a case against Him to have Him condemned. They had to take this approach because of Jesus' popularity. They though they knew all about Him.
The Jewish teachers used their educational pedigree to certify their teaching to the people. This process worked in a similar fashion to ordination. Candidates were evaluated by their Rabbi's. This process may have been a little less formal than our certification process in the church today. But the Jewish Rabbi's of the day authenticated their teaching by quoting what earlier Rabbis had said concerning the interpretation of Scripture. Being original was seen as proof that one's teaching was not authentic.
It seems that Jesus was not one to cite Jewish authorities. Instead, He cited Scripture directly and offered His own interpretation. At least this is what the opponents of Jesus thought. But there was something different about His teaching that was immediately evident. The Rabbis cited human authorities., but Jesus taught with authority. This was noticed by the crowds ad the end of the Sermon on the Mount, they took note that His teaching had authority and was not like the teaching of the Scribes.