Summary: In John 7 Jesus continues to teach about His divine nature and purpose as the Jewish leaders become more enraged.
Teaching at the Feast John 7:1-24
Chapter 6 of John covered about one year of ministry in Galilee, which is the main thrust covered in the entirety of the synoptic gospels, which are Matthew, Mark and Luke). Two Passovers and one unidentified feast have been mentioned in John thus far and now the Feast of Tabernacles is cited in the beginning of John 7. This begins Jesus’ third and final trip to Jerusalem.
We begin with John 7:1-2 (NKJ): “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. 2 Now the Jews' Feast of Tabernacles (or “Feast of Booths” or “Ingathering”) was at hand.”
The Feast of Tabernacles was the longest festival of the Jewish year, lasting seven days, and followed five days after the Day of Atonement, which the Jews celebrated on September 22-23 this year. This feast for the Jews ended on October 5, just past. It was a celebration at the end of harvest time, celebrating God’s gracious provision for the children of Israel in the desert and included a ceremonial water offering commemorating the provision of water for them during their desert wanderings. (We will see that in 7:37-39. The people would build temporary lean-tos, or “booths” out of interwoven branches in which they would live.
Note that the context of John 7 follows the teachings of Jesus teaching concerning himself as the Bread from Heaven: John 6:35: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” Believing and following Jesus as Savior and Lord is the only way for forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. Jesus would become the atonement for sin as the sacrificial Lamb of God and life in Him is by a birth or life from above by faith alone.
Look at verses 3-5: “His brothers (Jesus’ half-brothers through Mary and Joseph) therefore said to Him, "Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. 4 For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly (or publicly). If You do these things, show Yourself to the world." 5 For even His brothers did not believe in Him.”
The thought here from Jesus’ brothers is that since so many people abandoned Jesus in Capernaum in rural Galilee, they are suggesting that Jesus bring His powers to public display to the center of religious life in Jerusalem where there were more people and a greater opportunity to attract followers with His spectacular miracles. Jesus of course knew the hearts of man and that a response to miracles does not constitute genuine saving faith. For example, His own brothers, members of His own household still failed to grasp the true significance of Jesus’ signs, namely, that He had come as THE MESSIAH from heaven to die for the sins of those who would believe and follow Him.
Listen to Jesus’ response in verses 6-10:
6 Then Jesus said to them, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. 8 You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come." 9 When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee. 10 But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.
Did Jesus change His Mind or Lie? NO
This is an instance where critics of the Lord Jesus say that Jesus either told a lie to His disciples or He changed His mind, which would indicate that He was not perfect, but neither of those explanations fit the text. Jesus’ “time” in this case is NOT His “hour”. The word used for “time” here could be understood as “a fitting time or situation”; what the text actually tells us is this: He is telling His disciples that they can go up to Jerusalem any time they want, anytime that they choose, but He, Himself is under the strict timetable set by the Father not on the whims and wishes of humanity. He knows that “HIS HOUR” to bring the greatest Glory on the Cross to die for sinful humanity is yet in the future, so to attend the Feast, and to go to Jerusalem too early, He might not accomplish what the Father desires Him to accomplish during this feast of Tabernacles. So He lays back for a little bit.
Afterward Jesus appears at the feast in a way fewer people notice Him and He doesn’t make a “grand entrance” as a publicity stunt as some of His disciples had suggested. Look at the following verses.