Monday: The Feast of Booths
Read John 7:1-2, Leviticus 23:34-36, Deuteronomy 16:13-16, 2 Chronicles 8:13, Ezekiel 47, Zechariah 14, Revelation 22
The Feast of Booths (Tabernacles) is the setting for all of the action in John 7. Of the three week-long festivals in the Jewish calendar, it’s probably the festival most Christians know the least about. The other two festivals also act as important and meaningful backdrops to New Testament events. Jesus’ death and resurrection occurs during Passover. And the church begins in Acts 2 at Pentecost. Both of those festivals happen in the Spring.
The Feast of Booths was celebrated in the Fall and was a harvest festival and a water festival as already arid Jerusalem was entering the dry season. The booths or tabernacles were structures made of branches that would be built on rooftops and in areas all around the city. Men would eat and sleep in these tabernacles making this festival a type of week-long national campout that commemorated the 40 years that Israel spent in the desert before entering the Promised Land.
Like Passover and Pentecost, I believe that this festival also serves as a great backdrop to an important event on God’s calendar. It just hasn’t happened yet! This fall festival week coincides with language in Revelation and the return of Christ. This life and this world is really just a tabernacle (a temporary structure). God will return in his good time and usher us into a forever home!
Tuesday: His brothers
Read John 7:3-13, Matthew 12:46-50, Mark 6:1-6, 10:29-31, Luke 14:25-27,
It seems like Jesus’ brothers are goading him in this passage. They aren’t just inviting him to go to the feast with them. (It would have been customary for family members to travel together.) But it seems like they are saying if you are really such a big deal then you should go and be the superstar you claim to be in public at the feast. Jesus doesn’t take the bate because it’s not his hour. He ends up going later on his own (God’s) timing.
Throughout the gospels, Jesus and his family are often at odds. The people who are closest to us can sometimes be the most closed people in our lives. It’s difficult for people who’ve always known us to see us grow and change. It’s difficult to overcome preconceived notions. This can cause tension.
Amazingly, Jesus finds the perfect way to interact with his family. He certainly displays tough love on numerous occasions and refuses to compromise. But in the end, Mary and his brothers James and Jude, all put their faith in him and have a great impact on the early church. Take some time to consider and pray about your love for your family.
Wednesday: How is it that this man has learning?
Read John 7:14-31, Mark 6:2, , Matthew 16:13-20, 1 Corinthians 1:24
Over and over in the gospels, in John, and in this passage in particular, people are astonished at Jesus’ wisdom. The refrain here seems to center on their wonder at where he got his wisdom. Ideas don’t come from nothing. We make think we’re creative but even our best ideas are products of generations of thought.
In Israel, people gained wisdom by training under rabbis. When someone taught, you could trace their teaching back to lineages of teaching from the past. Jesus did not train under a rabbi. So, where did he get this learning? Moreover, the things he was saying were completely unheard of. That’s not how wisdom works!
Jesus has a clear answer that makes sense. His wisdom has come from God himself. The reason the people hadn’t heard it before is because it was truly revelatory. Did you know that when you read the word of God you are tapping into fresh wisdom from God himself? Think about that the next time you open the Word!
Read John 7:32-36, Exodus 17, Psalm 106
In John 6 and Exodus 16, the focus is bread. In the chapters that follow in each of these books, the focus is water. In all of these examples people grumble, mutter, quarrel and complain. It’s human nature to be negative when we feel like our needs are going unmet.
Jesus’ offer of living water is an alternative to muttering. He is an unlimited source that we can go to and have our deepest needs met. We may think that our grumbling is harmless but we should remember what happened to that generation of mutterers and grumblers in the desert. Even with the presence of God (pillar of cloud and fire) they continued to grumble.
We have an even greater presence of God (indwelling Spirit – living water). Do we continue to grumble or do we go to the source to have our needs met?
Friday: He said this about the Spirit
Read John 7:37-39, Genesis 1:1-2, Isaiah 44:3, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Acts 2
The Holy Spirit is frequently associated with water in the scriptures. When we are first introduced to the Spirit in the very first sentences of the bible, He hovers over the water and brings order to chaos. In John 4, 1 Corinthians, and elsewhere the Holy Spirit is associated with water baptism. In Acts chapter 2, before 3,000 are baptized on the first day of the church, the Holy Spirit comes down like tongues of fire with a whooshing sound like a mighty wind. The Holy Spirit fell from the sky and washed over them so they could get the message of the gospel out in everyone’s native tongue. (Acts 10 as well.)
The Holy Spirit is mysterious but the ways that the bible illustrates His presence can help us have a greater understanding of the third person of the Trinity. As you pray today, think about the Holy Spirit as water. Imagine Him washing over you. Better yet, go to living water (a river or fountain) and ponder the Spirit. After your prayer, consider what you’ve learned about the Holy Spirit.
Saturday: So there was division among the people
Read John 7:40-52, Luke 12:51-53, 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, John 17, Philippians 2:1-9
As the Feast of Booths comes to a close, Jesus’ appearance and teaching is the talk of the town. The people are divided by many opinions and feeling a range of emotions from wonder to confusion to anger.
Jesus still divides to this day. He warned that his teaching would bring division so this should not surprise us. The fact that Jesus foretells the division that would come doesn’t mean that he approves of it. On the contrary, Jesus highly values unity. His longest prayer in the bible is a prayer for unity. Yet, we see even in the early church (Corinth and elsewhere) that division affected the churches for various reasons. The Christian landscape today is fractured and divided in thousands of ways. Even local churches can fall into disunion, breaking the heart of God.
All of this only serves to make unity even more powerful. When we can put others above ourselves and love and serve one another despite our differences we show that we are not of the world but truly divine – an answer to Jesus’ John 17 prayer.
Ultimately, the people were divided because they had different ideas about who Jesus was. If we can fight to have the right view of Jesus then we’ll be on track to stay united. If we lose track of Jesus, then disunity is all but certain. Is there disunity and division in your relationships? Tomorrow at church you have an opportunity to work toward unity and bring joy to Jesus himself!