By Tyson Thorne

July 17, 2019

John 23 Large

Today we are picking up right where we left off yesterday. Knowing that the Pharisees in Jerusalem wanted to kill him, Jesus went into town anyway to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. It should be noted the while the feast looked back to the time before Israel was a nation and the people wandered the desert living in tents (or tabernacles) in the presence of God, it also looked forward to the day when God would once more dwell with man. There is no little irony then, that Jesus — God in the flesh — was walking among them during this feast period.

Jesus was teaching in the temple courts when he stopped abruptly and asked the Pharisees hiding in the crowd of people why they wanted to kill him. The crowd was confused, but started putting the pieces together in verse 25:

“Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Yet here he is, speaking publicly, and they are saying nothing to him. Do the ruling authorities really know that this man is the Messiah? But we know where this man comes from. Whenever the Christ comes, no one will know where he comes from.”

The people figured out who Jesus was, who he was speaking to, that the religious authorities wanted him dead yet were not arresting Jesus now, and wondered what the Pharisees knew about Jesus. Did they think he was Messiah? The last statement gives us insight into first century Judaism. Some believed the Messiah came from Bethlehem (Matthew 2) based on Malachi 3.1 and Daniel 9.25. Yet some believed the teachings of the Talmud which authored a well known saying: “Three come unawares: Messiah, a found article, and a scorpion" (Rabbi Zera). Apparently there were many differing ideas about the coming Messiah.

Jesus tries to clear up the confusion, telling them that while they know where Jesus came from, they do not know the One who sent him, the Father. After saying this, some in the crowd attempted to seize him on grounds of blasphemy, but others were open to the idea that he was indeed the Messiah. Jesus pressed on, proclaiming that he would only be among them a short time before he returned to the Father in Heaven. "You will look for me but will not find me, and where I am you cannot come" (verse 34).

Jesus apparently slips away leaving the Pharisees confused. They debated his last statement. They never thought that Jesus was talking about his death and instead hypothesized that he might go to the dispersed Jews, those living among the Greeks. They believed Jesus was going into hiding. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

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