Don't Ask Until You are Ready to Do It
Title: DON’T ASK UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO DO IT
Text: John 7:1-53
The events of our text surround a less popular feast of the Jews; it’s the eight-day Feast of the Tabernacles. Crowds didn’t flock to Jerusalem for this feast like they do at other feasts, like the Passover and the Day of Atonement. But what Jesus does at this particular feast sheds tremendous light into who Jesus is. If you don’t catch the connection, you miss a beautiful revelation.
At the Feast of the Tabernacles the Jews commemorate the divine protection given to their ancestors during the long journey in the wilderness after leaving Egypt. It was a time when God visibly tabernacled with Israel in the tent of meeting as they journeyed from place to place. After Solomon the Temple in Jerusalem came to be regarded more and more as the exclusive spot where God’s presence could be encountered. It was this effort to restrict the presence of God to a specific spot (the Temple) that lead to the decline pure faith in Judaism. In reality, neither the Tabernacle nor the Temple were places where God’s presence is fully manifested. Both were mere shadows of something better to come. Jesus teaches that crucial lesson in our text. It is the new covenant-relationship that Jesus initiated through His sacrifice that brings the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Read Text.
1. Verse 1 says that Jesus was not willing to walk in Judea because the Jews were pursuing Him, yet in verse 3 His brothers encourage Him to go to Judea. Why do you think that is? (Because they believed Jerusalem the center of God’s presence, and since He did signs from God, that’s where He should be.)
2. What was wrong about how Jesus’ brothers viewed Him? (They thought His glory was limited to His demonstration of miracles. 7:3) What did Jesus mean by verse 6? (Because Jesus’ brothers were skeptical (actually unbelievers), they could move about freely in the evil world without risk or danger. Thus they didn’t understand Jesus’ reserve to do so until it was “His time.”)
Insight: We, like Jesus, must realize we travel in a hostile environment and not be tempted to back away from our mission when we encounter it. Matt. 5:10-12
3. Did any of Jesus’ brothers eventually become true believers? (Yes, two of them: James and Jude – both contributors to the NT)
Insight: Don’t write off those who don’t respond at once to the Gospel. Often it takes time for the Spirit to work His way into hard hearts. Pray for the Word planted to take root; pray for the Spirit to use the words to make them more and more uncomfortable with their position of unbelief; ask God to draw them to Himself.
4. What did Jesus mean in verse 8 when He said His time had not fully come? (His time to be delivered into the hands of Pharisees and be crucified had not come yet.) Jn. 8:20; 13:1; 17:1
5. At first Jesus told His brothers to go to the feast without Him because He was going to stay behind, then later He goes there anyway secretly. Do you think there was a change of mind, and if so, why? (As He thought of the purpose of the feast, it’s meaning and how it had been abused, He decided to go and teach the true meaning of the abiding presence of God; He actually shows up on at the Temple courts, teaching. 7:14)
6. 7:15 Though Jesus was raised in Nazareth, not Jerusalem, the Pharisees marvel at Jesus wisdom because they thought He was not educated. How would they know whether He was educated or not? (People of that day who were knowledgeable in the Scriptures were taught in Jerusalem, and those present knew they had not apprenticed Him.) Likewise, do we need formal education to become knowledgeable in the Scriptures? Josh. 1:8; Ps. 119:97-100
7. Where did Jesus say He got His wisdom? 7:16 Did Jesus say this was exclusive to Him alone? 7:17
Insight: This is the key verse of the chapter. To know Jesus and develop spiritual understanding, you must make a determined choice to do God’s will. If we make that choice, God will show us what His will is, and we can live it step by step. Jn. 8:31-32; 8:47; Ps. 25:8-12; Isa. 35:8; Jer. 31:33-34; Acts 17:11
8. What’s the criticism Jesus has of the Pharisees in 7:21-23? (They are not supposed to work on the Sabbath and they criticized Him of healing on the Sabbath; yet they break their own law by circumcising on the Sabbath. Infant boys were circumcised on the 8th day after birth, even if it fell on the Sabbath. They permit a rite of symbolic purification affecting one member of the body, where Jesus cleanses and heals the whole body.)
9. What courtroom symbol does 7:24 remind you of? (The blind lady justice.) Why is man incapable of true righteous judgment? (We judge by appearance; we can’t see into the heart.) Heb. 4:12; Jer. 17:10; Rev. 2:23
10. What’s the amazement of the people standing by listening to this exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees? 7:25-26 (They knew the Pharisees wanted to kill Jesus, but they are doing nothing. They are sarcastically wondering if the Pharisees now wonder if He is the Messiah.)
11. What results next is an accusation against Jesus because they know Him…they know His roots, where He came from, who His parents are…thus they don’t think He can be the Messiah. Have you ever used Scripture against others without checking the facts, or your interpretation?
Insight: As disciples of Christ, we must be more honest that Jesus’ enemies in our use of the Scriptures. We must make every effort to know all the details before judging. There may be a very practical reason God created us with just one mouth, but two ears.
12. Once again they wanted to seize Him but could not lay a hand on Him because His time had not come. How do you think that came about? Was He coated with STP?
13. Notice in verse 33 & 34 Jesus says in a little while He is going to return to Him who sent Him (the Father, God) and they could not come where He will be. Why couldn’t they? What’s required to be with Him after we leave this earth? Rev. 2:7; 3:5, 10-12, 20-21
14. Verse 37 and Jesus’ words that follow are critical to the events surrounding the Feast of the Tabernacles. Normally teachers sit while students stood at the Temple site (8:2). Jesus stands and makes a profound statement. What is so monumental about His words? (The feast is about celebrating God’s presence in the wilderness. Jesus says that if you desire God’s presence in your life (thirst), believe in Jesus and God’s presence will be in your innermost being, flowing from you like living water.) Isa. 44:3-6 What had to happen yet for this water to be given to anyone who thirsts? 7:39
15. A division results in the crowd listening to Jesus. Some want to seize Jesus by force, others are afraid; not even the soldiers dared to arrest Him. What does that teach you about your own divine protection until the time is right for the Lord to call you home?
16. Nicodemus makes a subtle stand in defense of Jesus. What do you know of Nicodemus? Jn. 3:1-3; 19:38-40
7:17 “If any man is willing to do God’s will, he shall then know the Scriptures.” (my paraphrase) It takes a commitment on our part to produce a certainty to follow God’s will. God’s will is perfect…but it’s not easy to follow. It goes against the grain of this earth, and even our fleshly desires. Thus this chapter gives us a stern warning: don’t ask to know God’s will until you are ready to do it!
But should you make that wisest decision of your lifetime…Jesus promises to the seeker that you shall know His word and from your innermost being will flow His life-giving waters of the Holy Spirit! It all begins with a thirst. How thirsty are you? How far will you go to satisfy that thirst? Far enough to follow His will?