John 7

Today’s reading is John 7.
Open your Bible or journal and mark some observations:
+ Note the perceptions others have toward Jesus.
+ Note Jesus’ teaching – who is he poking/rubbing the wrong way?
+ Note who speaks up for Jesus near the end of the passage.
In Bible times, feasts were a massive deal. Crowds of people would come from all over to remember God’s provision, celebrate through eating, and they would intentionally worship God during this time too. Instead of likening this to our Thanksgiving, a closer comparison would be tailgating at a college football game. The masses come from all over the place to eat, celebrate, attend the game, and everyone has an opinion on what’s about to transpire. Whether you think a team will win or lose or however you predict a player will play, people are always talking before the game begins.
In John 7, this is exactly what’s happening. No, it’s not football, but the crowds are all gathered and whispering their thoughts about this guy named Jesus. Is he a good guy? Is what he says really true? How can you deny the miracles he’s doing? Where even is he?
Instead of going to the feast with his brothers, Jesus intentionally lays low, and he doesn’t entertain the grand entrance that would’ve been his if he so desired. The humility Jesus shows here isn’t natural to us. Our tendency is to please the crowd, gain the approval of man, and embrace the grand entrance when we’ve “earned” it. We like to be liked. It isn’t bad to be appreciated by many, but if our core motivation is to please man, we aren’t walking in step with the Spirit.
It may seem like Jesus isn’t as humble as we thought once he takes the stage in the temple and starts to teach in front of the crowds. But he doesn’t share a message the crowds wanted to hear. He specifically starts to poke holes in the laws/traditions that were held so highly by the Pharisees. These religious leaders tried to have Jesus arrested, yet the guards wouldn’t do it because they knew something was different about this man.
Nicodemus knew it too – the same guy that came to Jesus in the night to talk to him. He does his best to tactfully ask a question to try to guide his fellow Pharisees to see things a little differently, but no one budges. They don’t like Jesus. He is messing up the system.
The system that was in place here could be described like this: the outside matters most. If you are a Jew, you are a part of God’s family. If you obey all the laws to perfection and do so in front of others, you’re doing well. Jesus pushed back on this. As he lived and taught, Jesus was always working on implementing a system that had always been the heartbeat of God: the inside matters most.
At times, we can be pretty good at faking it, which is why it can be nice to live in the outside matters most system. We can somewhat control our outward behavior and do what we’re supposed to do. This just isn’t enough. Our deepest issues are sins that have taken root at the heart level. Jesus knows this. It’s why he came. It’s why he pushed back and exposed the lies that only life on the outside matters. Jesus is the way for us to truly experience inside out change in our lives. So, let’s surrender to him and allow him to do a work in us.
Just for today-

  1. Think about some things/patterns/behaviors you’d like to change?
  2. Recently, have you found yourself more focused on your outward behavior or on the heart level issues going on inside?
Garrett Crown | Student Ministries Associate

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