JESUS ATTENDS THE FEAST
It was the fall of the year, the harvest of the barley and
wheat grains had been gathered in (the end of March to late
June), the fruits had been gathered in (July/August - some grape
gathering started, figs, walnuts, olives, etc.), and the main
harvest of grapes, as well as dourra, maize, cotton,
pomegranates, all gathering in and harvested.
By this time in Jesus' ministry some leaders of the Jews had
got to the point of hating Him so much they were ready to find a
way to kill Him, so He did not want to openly, on a long term
basis, travel around the district of Judea (Jerusalem area),
hence He went about the Galilee townships, far to the north of
As it was the fall of the year the Feast of Tabernacles that
God had given to the Jews and Israelites under Moses, was close
at hand to being observed in Jerusalem especially, as this was
still the appointed place to observe the Feasts of the Lord as
prescribed under the Old Testament. Jesus' literal brothers (half
brothers we would say today) came to Him and said, "You should
leave here and go to Jerusalem and Judea, that your disciples may
see the works that you are doing. For no man works in secret if
he seeks to be known for doing the work of God. So go and do
these things, show yourself to the world." His brothers did not
as yet believe in Him as the Son of God.
Jesus answered them, "My time has not yet come, that must
happen to me in all things that are written about me, but your
time to see and do God's will, is always here. The world does not
hate you, but it does hate me, because I testify to its face that
its works are evil. You go up to the feast; I go not yet up unto
the feast, for the time to do what I must do is not to come as
quickly as you might like to see it come."
His brothers shrugged their shoulders in complete disbelief
and packed up their things and headed out south to Jerusalem to
observe the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus stayed on in Galilee for
a number of days, then in a private way He also departed for
Jerusalem and the observance of the feast of Tabernacles. It was
the greatest rejoicing time of the year, when for seven days all
that came to Jerusalem would sing, worship, present animal
sacrifices, eat and drink to their hearts content (within the law
of God of course, after all this was still a "religious" festival
observance), and just praise God for all the ingathered harvests
of the year.
CONFRONTATION WITH THE JEWS
The Jews, were looking for Him at the feast (knowing Jesus
always observed the Festivals of the Lord and would so be in
Jerusalem somewhere). "Where is He?" Many of the Jews asked among
themselves. Some muttered to each other that He was a "good
man," while others conversed that He was leading the people
astray and was up to no good thing. All this conversational talk
was done in a very hush-hush way, not openly and loudly for the
people feared the Jewish leaders and what anger it might provoke
in them if they knew the people were asking for and talking about
It was about half way through the eight day festival and
Jesus finally showed Himself and went up into the Temple and
started to teach the people. The Jews there could not believe how
He was teaching with such wisdom, knowledge and authority. They
even said to one another, "How can this man teach like this when
he has never been to or attended any of our schools of Theology
or Universities of learning?" (John 7: 1-15).
And of course they were, on this point correct. Jesus had
never attended or had any certificate of accomplishment from any
of their Theology schools or any other school of "higher
learning" in their land. It was a complete mystery to them that
He could speak so mightily about the Scriptures and things
pertaining to the Almighty God.
Jesus knew exactly what was going through their minds, and
said, "My teaching is not mine, but His who sent me: if any
person will do His will, they shall know whether the teaching is
from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority and my own
ideas. He who speaks on his own authority seeks to simply glorify
himself; but he who seek the glory of the one who sent him is
true, and in that person there is no falsehood. Did not Moses
hand down to you the law that was given to him from God, for you
all to observe? Yes, but yet none of you observe it! Why to you
seek to kill me?"
"You are crazy," replied the people, "who seeks to kill you?
You are possessed by a demon," they continued to shout at Christ.
Jesus knew the inner most thoughts and attitude of their
hearts, they really were more than upset at Him, the scribes and
Pharisees and Sadducees had been doing a pretty good number on
them, in teaching them that He had broken the Sabbath (which
they held in such high regard, but as we have seen, mainly with
their false traditions and man made rules and regulations) and
other commandments of God. Jesus answered them on this by saying,
"I did one miracle on the Sabbath. Think about this, Moses gave
you the commandment of circumcision, not that it was from Moses
but really it was from the fathers before Moses time. Yet it was
a part of the laws of Moses, given to you. And so you circumcise
a child upon the Sabbath, so if you circumcise a child on the
Sabbath so the laws of Moses will not be broken, why are you so
angry at me because I healed a man on the Sabbath day? You need
to judge not according to outward appearance, but you need to
judge righteous judgment" (John 7: 16-24).
Ah yes, here we see that judging between right and wrong,
judging the actions and works, and deeds, and life practices, of
people, is not necessarily wrong to do at all! Jesus here did not
say they were never to judge between matters, but He did say that
people were to judge with righteousness, judge in the correct way
with the results then being that which would be favorable in the
sight of God, where God would agree with the judgment decided
upon. In this case the Jews were so off track, they were so wrong
in their judgment of the law of God and how to apply it, that
they were taking something small and trivial in comparison,
saying it should be done even on the Sabbath, but they could not
see or understand that to heal a person from sickness or a demon
on the Sabbath, was a much greater work, and so much more
pleasing to God to see someone do on the Sabbath day, than
circumcising a baby.
There were others there who had their "pet thoughts" about
this fellow Jesus, knowing that some Jews sought to kill Him.
They didn't believe Jesus either, but came at Him from a
different angle. They spoke up and said, "Is not this the man
whom they seek to kill? And look, here He is, as bold as brass,
speaking openly, and they do nothing to him! Ah, maybe the
authorities really do know and think that this is the Christ?
Yet, we know this man and where he comes from; we know his
brothers and sisters and his home town. He's just a man only. The
Christ, when he comes, no one will know where he comes from."
In response to this Jesus said, "You think you know me and
know where I come from, but I have not come of my own accord. He
who sent me is true, and you just do not know Him. I know Him,
for I came from where He is and He sent me."
The Jews were now really mad at Jesus, and thought to sent
for the temple guards to arrest Him, but it was not Jesus' time
yet for all that, it would come but it was not to happen yet, so
no one laid any hands on Him.
There were many Jews there who did believe in Him, for they
said , "When the Christ appears as it is written he will, shall
he do more miracles than what this man has done?"
The Pharisees and chief priests were not too far away during
all this, as usual, and they soon heard the crowd muttering
against Him, and thought it would be a good time to have officers
sent and to arrest this Jesus. He knew this was in their mind and
declared, "I shall be with you a little longer, and then I will
go to Him who sent me. You will seek me, but you will not find
me. And where I shall be you cannot come."
The Jews were scratching their heads saying to one another,
"Where does this man intend to go that we shall not be able to
find him? Does he intend to go to our fellow Israelites who are
dispersed in the various countries of the Roman Empire, and maybe
teach also the Greeks? What on earth does he mean by saying, 'You
will seek me and you will not find me,' and, 'Where I shall be
you cannot come'?" (John 7: 25-36).
All, or most of the people anyway, were left in confused
bewilderment. It was not yet time for Jesus to be arrested and
put to death, so the people at large and the Pharisees and chief
priests walked away from Him and went about doing other things in
the Temple area.
The rest of the feast passed and now it was getting close to
the last day of this seven day feast.
THE LAST GREAT DAY OF THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES
It is written in John 7: 37 as, "On the last day, the great
day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out....."
Many among today's church organizations that do observe the
Feast of Tabernacles (and there are indeed many around the world)
have taught or still do teach, that this last, great day, is NOT
the 7th day of the feast of Tabernacles, but the 8th day
that follows the feast of Tabernacles. And many have called this
last Sabbath day (which comes after the feast of Tabernacles -
see Lev.23) "The Last Great Day" thinking that it was on this 8th
day that Jesus stood up and proclaimed the words we find in John
This is not what Jewish recorded history tells us. It was
not on this 8th day that Jesus uttered these words but it was on
the LAST DAY of the feast of Tabernacles - the SEVENTH day of the
feast, or the last day of this feast, which was called in Jewish
traditional usage, "the great day of the feast."
The Jewish Christian scholar Albert Edersheim in his well
known book "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah" chapter 7,
pages 156-160, gives us the true meaning and symbolism that took
place in and around the Temple on this 7th and last day of the
feast of Tabernacles.
"It was 'the last, the great day of the Feast,' and Jesus
was once more in the Temple. We can scarcely doubt that it
was the concluding day of the Feast, and NOT, as most modern
writers suppose, its OCTAVE, which in Rabbinic language,
was regarded as 'a festival by itself.' But such solemn
interest attaches itself to the Feast, and this occurrence
on its last day, that we must try to realize the scene......
Not only did all the priestly families minister during that
week, but it has been calculated that not fewer than 446
Priests, with, of course, a corresponding number of Levites,
were required for its sacrificial worship. In general the
services were the same every day, EXCEPT that the number of
bullocks offered decreased daily from thirteen on the first,
to seven on the seventh day.....
But 'the last, the Great Day of the Feast,' was marked by
special observances. Let us suppose ourselves in the number
of worshippers, who on 'the last, the Great Day of the
Feast,' are leaving their 'booths' at daybreak to take part
in the service.
The pilgrims are all in festive array......the festive
multitude would divide into three bands. Some would remain
in the Temple to attend the preparation of the Morning
sacrifice. Another band would go in procession 'below
Jerusalem' to a place called Moza, the 'Kolonia' of the
Jerusalem Talmud.....At Moza they cut down willow-branches,
with which, amidst the blasts of the Priests' trumpets, they
adorned the altar, forming a leafy canopy above it. Yet a
third company were taking part in a still more interesting
service. To the sound of music a PRECESSION started from
the Temple. It followed a Priest who bore a golden pitcher,
capable of holding a LOG (rather more than two pints).
Onward it passed, probably through Ophel.....to the very
verge of Siloam, down the edge of the Tyropoeon Valley,
where it merges into that of the Kedron.....
Here was the so-called 'Fountain-Gate,' and still within the
City-wall 'the Pool of Siloam,' the overflow of which fed
the lower pool......
The Pool of Siloam was fed by the LIVING spring farther up
in the narrowest part of the Kidron Valley.....
When the Temple-procession had reached the Pool of Siloam,
the Priest filled his golden pitcher from its waters (except
on the Sabbath, and on the first day of the Feast. On these
occasions it had been provided the day before). Then they
went back to the Temple, so timing it, that they should
arrive just as they were laying the pieces of the sacrifice
on the great Altar of Burnt-offering, towards the close
of the ordinary Morning sacrifice service. A threefold blast
of the Priests' trumpet welcomed the arrival of the Priest,
as he entered through the 'Water-gate' (one of the gates
that opened from 'the terrace' on the south side of the
Temple), which obtained its name from this ceremony, and
passed straight into the Court of the Priests. Here he was
joined by another Priest, who carried the wine for the
drink-offering. The two Priests ascended 'the rise' of the
altar, and turned to the left.
There were two silver funnels here, with narrow openings,
leading down to the base of the altar. Into that at the
east, which was somewhat wider, the wine was poured, and, at
the same time, the water into the western and narrower
opening, the people shouted to the Priest to raise his hand,
so as to make sure that he poured the water into the funnel.
For, although it was held that the WATER-POURING was an
ordinance instituted by Moses, 'a Halakhah of Moses from
Sinai,' this was another of the points disputed by the
Sadducees.....Immediately after 'the pouring of water,' the
great 'hallel,' consisting of Psalms 113 to 118 (inclusive)
was chanted antiphonally, or rather, with responses, to the
accompaniment of the flute......
The festive morning-service was followed by the offering of
the special sacrifice of the day, with their
drink-offerings, and by the Psalm of the day, which on the
'last, Great Day of the Feast,' was Psalm 82 from verse
As the people left the Temple, they saluted the altar with
words of thanks, and on the last day of the Feast they shook
off the leaves on the willow-branches round the altar, and
beat their palm-branches to pieces. On the same AFTERNOON
the 'booths' were DISMANTLED, and the Feast ended.
We can have little difficulty in determining at what part of
the service of 'the last, the Great Day of the Feast,' Jesus
stood and cried, 'If any one thirst, let Him come unto ME
and drink!' It must have been with special reference to the
ceremony of the OUT-POURING OF THE WATER, which, as we have
seen, was considered the CENTRAL PART of the service.
Moreover, all would UNDERSTAND that His words must refer to
the HOLY SPIRIT, since the rite was UNIVERSALLY regarded as
SYMBOLICAL of his outpouring.
The forth-pouring of the water was immediately followed by
the chanting of the HALLE. But AFTER that there must have
been a SHORT PAUSE to PREPARE for the festive sacrifice (the
It was THEN, immediately after the symbolic rite of the
water-poring, immediately after the people had responded by
repeating those lines from Psalm 118 - given thanks, and
prayed that Jehovah would send salvation and prosperity, and
had shaken their Lulabh towards the altar, thus praising
'with heart, and mouth, and hands,' and THEN SILENCE had
fallen upon them - that there rose, so loud as to be heard
throughout the Temple, the VOICE of Jesus . He interrupted
NOT the services, for they had for the MOMENT CEASED. He
INTERPRETED, and He FULFILLED them.
But yesterday they had been divided about Him, and the
authorities had given directions to take Him; today He is
not only in the temple, but, at the close of the most solemn
rites of the Feast, asserting, within the hearing of all,
His claim to be regarded as the fulfilment of all, and the
So then, it was nothing new, only the happy fulfilment of
the old, when He thus 'spake of the Holy Spirit, which they
who believed on Him should receive'....."
End of quote from Edersheim (capitals are mine for emphasis).
Yes, Jesus took the water ceremony on that last great day of
the Feast of Tabernacles, and gave the people its true symbolic
meaning. It was all to do with HIM and the Holy Spirit that would
be given, poured out upon and into, to flow out of, all those
who would believe in Him. John writes that the Holy Spirit was
not yet given at that time because Jesus was not yet glorified.
We need to remember that John in saying that, was speaking
of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in a new and special way,
people having the Holy Spirit united with their spirit to beget
them as Jesus in the flesh was begotten of the Father. Before
that time the people of God had the Holy Spirit "with" them but
not "in" them as it would be when given and poured out upon
people AFTER Jesus was glorified in His resurrection glory, and
on the feast of Pentecost (Acts 2), which we shall come to later
in our Bible Story.
PEOPLE CONFUSED ABOUT JESUS
After the service of that last great day of the Feast, and
people had heard and seen Jesus speaking and teaching during the
Feast and now hearing Him say He was the way to living waters of
the Spirit, some shouted out, "Oh, indeed, look at what this
man has done and taught, He must be THE prophet." Others cried
out in response, "Yes, he has proved himself to be the promised
Messiah." But still others lifted up their voices and said, But
how can he be the Messiah. Will the Messiah come from the Galilee
area as this man comes from? The Scriptures teach clearly that
the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in
Bethlehem, the town where King David was born."
The people who declared this, were of course correct in
understanding the Scriptures but they just did not know Jesus in
His birth had indeed fulfilled them. They did not know what you
have read about in the early chapters of this New Testament Bible
So the crowd was divided and confused in their opinions
about Christ. And some still wanted Him arrested, but there was
no one who dared touch Him. The Temple guards who had been sent
to arrest Him returned to the leading Priests and Pharisees.
"Why have you not arrested and brought him in?" they
demanded to know from them.
"Have you also been led astray?" the Pharisees mocked with
an evil smirch of a smile. "Can you find a single Pharisee or any
one among the rulers of the people, who believe in him? Many of
these silly ignorant people do, but what do they know about
spiritual matters and who is from God? A curse on them anyway!"
Well, there was one among those Pharisees and rulers, who
had met with Jesus secretly a while back, as we saw in an earlier
chapter. You remember? He was Nicodemus. He had kept it a secret
that he felt this Jesus fellow was from God and had God with Him.
Now he spoke up in Jesus' defense, well somewhat in His defence,
"Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?" he
They cynically and quickly replied, "Hu, are you from
Galilee too? Are you wanting to stick-up for this fellow who
works by the prince of the demons? Search the Scriptures and see
for yourself - no prophet from God has ever come from Galilee!"
Nicodemus was correct, the law of the Jews prohibited any
one from being condemned without a legal hearing, but those
leaders by this time were so filled with hate for Jesus they were
willing to turn a blind eye to any of their laws of proper
justice. They were now filled with one thing in their hearts and
minds, how they could have Jesus killed. Nicodemus, was out
numbered by far, and was silenced by their mocking words
in reply to his statement.
Everyone had enough of the whole scene and confused opinions
about this man called Jesus Christ. They dispersed and all went
to their respective homes for the evening and the night (John 7:
THE EIGHTH DAY - THE LAST GREAT FEAST
Jesus spent the night on the Mount of Olives, in prayer and
meditation. He knew there was much to happen the next day. He was
back at the Temple very early after spending the night in
spiritual refreshment and physical rest. He was back in the
Temple to teach because it was the EIGHTH day, the day AFTER the
Feast of Tabernacles. Many have missed this very important
understanding because of their wrong understanding of John 7: 37
and the day on which that took place.
We are now at the NEXT DAY AFTER the seven day Feast of
Tabernacles. It is called the "eighth" day in the book of
Leviticus, chapter 23. It was an ANNUAL SABBATH day. It was in
reality the LAST FEAST of a total of SEVEN Feasts of the Lord as
outlined in Leviticus 23.
As Alfred Edersheim has mentioned above, it was regarded as
a SEPARATE FEAST to the Lord. It was NOT a part of the Feast of
Tabernacles. As we have seen from Edersheim, the "booths" for the
Feast of Tabernacles were dismantled on the AFTERNOON of the 7th
day of the Feast of Tabernacles. On the OCTAVE DAY, the 8th day,
a Sabbath day, there were different SPECIAL sacrifices offered as
prescribed in the law of Moses, besides the regular daily
Jesus was back in the Temple to teach on this LAST GREAT
As He was teaching the crowd that had gathered about Him,
the teachers of the religious law and Pharisees brought a woman
they had literally caught in the act of adultery (sleeping with
another man other than her husband). They put her in front of the
crowd that was listening to Jesus.
"Teacher," they said to Him, "this woman was caught in the
very act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her to death
for such a sin and violation of God's law. What do you say about
They were once more trying to trap Him into saying something
they could use against Him, and hence make Him look foolish and
inept on the matter of religious law, in front of the general
populace of the people gathered around Him. Jesus said not a
word. He stooped down and wrote in the dust with His finger. The
religious leaders still demanded an answer from Him. He stood up
and said to them, "All right, stone her, but let those who have
never sinned throw the first stone at her!" He then stooped down
again and wrote in the dust more words.
When the accusers heard this and saw what Jesus had written,
they started to slip silently away one by one, beginning with the
oldest, until only Jesus was left of the religious teachers, and
the woman. Jesus then stood up once more and said to her, "Where
are your accusers? Wasn't there a group of them here? Didn't even
one of them condemn you?"
"No, Lord," she answered.
"Very well, then neither do I condemn you. Go your way, but
remember, sin no more" Jesus told her, and she departed with
thanksgiving in her heart for God's mercy.
One thing we see immediately from this account. To commit
the physical act of adultery takes TWO people, a MAN as well as a
woman. These religious leaders said they caught the woman in the
very act of adultery. They brought the woman to Jesus, but
they did not bring the man. We must ask, why did they not? Even
if we assume the man was too powerful and strong and broke away
from them and ran for his life, Jesus did not ask where the man
was. He did not fall into the trap of getting into all that
question. He knew their hearts and what their mind was trying to
accomplish by bringing the woman before Him. It was not for any
kind of mercy, if the woman was repentant, but just to see
what Jesus would do about the letter of the law of Moses. As well
as to try and have Him break the law of the Romans who, though
allowing just about all freedom to the Jews to practice and teach
their religion, DID NOT allow the Jews to put anyone to death
without authority from the Roman Government via its
representative in Palestine.
The words of Jesus that anyone among them who had never
sinned should throw the first stone, and whatever words He wrote
in the dust, it got to the heart of each of those religious
teachers, and they clearly knew they had sinned, and did not want
to go any further with the matter. It was a bad enough
embarrassment to each of them as it was, without having Jesus do
any more public declaring of "their sins" that no doubt also
carried the death penalty with them under the letter of the law
Although a number of the laws of Moses carried the death
penalty if violated, that did not mean the death penalty was
automatically inflicted upon people, without the matter being
righteously judged by the court and judges of the land of Israel.
Mercy could be allocated to the offender if deep repentance could
be shown by the guilty party. God has always been a God of mercy
when mercy was deserved. The classic and outstanding example of
that under the Old Testament was God's mercy upon the great King
David. He also was guilty of adultery and more. When it was
brought to his attention he repented DEEPLY, Psalm 51 is
attributed to David as his repentance poem and prayer to God for
MERCY. He was punished (by loosing his son in death when sickness
befell him, which was covered in the Bible Story of the Old
Testament) but God did have mercy upon him by not demanding the
death penalty be applied to him.
Jesus was also having mercy upon the woman caught in the act
of adultery. But we also need to notice Jesus told her to "go,
but sin no more." Mercy is not a license to sin at ones pleasure
(John 7: 53 - 8: 1-11).
JESUS' STRAIGHT TALK TO THE PHARISEES
After the woman left Jesus turned to the people and said, "I
am the LIGHT of the world. If you follow me, you will not stumble
through the darkness, because you will have the LIGHT that leads
Some of the Pharisees still there who were not part of the
departing group, said, "You are making outrageous and false
claims about yourself!"
Jesus answered them, "No, these claims are valid even though
I make them about myself. For I KNOW where I came from and where
I am going, but you do not know this about me. You judge me from
all your human limitations, but I am not judging anyone. And if I
did, my judgment would be correct in every way because I am not
alone - I have with me the Father who sent me. Even in your own
law you can read that if two people agree about something, their
witness is accepted as true and factual. I am one witness, and my
Father who sent me is the other witness."
"Who and where is your Father," they asked.
"Since you do not know who I am, you also do not know who my
Father is," Jesus replied, "and if you knew me, you would know my
John the apostles tells us that Jesus made these statements
in the part of the Temple called the Treasury. And He was not
arrested because it was not yet the time for that event to
Later that day Jesus said to them again, "I am going away.
You will search for me but will not find me, and you will die in
your sins. You cannot come where I am going."
The Jewish leaders had baffled and perplexed looks on their
faces, and some among them said, "Is he panning to commit
suicide? What does he mean, 'You cannot come where I am going'?"
Jesus continued, "You are from below, this world; I am from
above . You are of this world, I am not. That is why I said you
would die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am who I
say I am, you will die in your sins."
"Tell us who you are," they demanded.
Jesus replied to them, "I am the ONE who I have always
claimed to be. I have much to say about you and much to condemn,
but I will not, for I say only what I hear from the one who sent
me, and He is very true."
They still did not understand that He was talking to them
about His Father in heaven. Many times Jesus had made it pretty
clear to those religious leaders that His Father was the ONE God
who was in heaven, and that He came from Him and was sent
by Him, but no matter how He put it to them, it was like water
running off a duck's back, they just didn't get it.
Once more Jesus said to them, "When you have lifted up the
Son of man, then you will realize that I am He and that I do
nothing on my own, but I speak what the Father has taught me. And
the one who sent me is with me - He has not deserted me. For I
always do those things that are pleasing to Him."
Jesus was referring to His being lifted up on the cross when
He said those words about "When you have lifted up the Son of
man" - but they also did not understand what He was meaning about
With all that Jesus had spoken during the Feast of
Tabernacles and now what He had so far spoken on this Last Great
Feast Day, John records in his Gospel that "many who heard Him
say these things believed in Him" (John 8: 21-30).
Written October 2002