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John 7:1-13, 40-52 Study Guide: What's the Deal with Jesus? Part 1: Is He the Christ?

Community Group Study Guide — What’s the Deal with Jesus? Part 1 - Is He The Christ?
John 7:1-13, 25-27, 31, 40-52

Study Information:

At this point in the gospel of John, Jesus has been ministering publicly for at least 18 months. During this time he has been teaching about the kingdom of God and performing miracles pointing to his power over creation as the Word made Flesh. People have started to form opinions about Jesus and throughout John 7 we see the growing divisions about Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles. This study guide will focus on those various opinions of Jesus and the next two study guides will look at what Jesus was specifically taught about his fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles and the sending of the Holy Spirit. 

Division about Jesus

We first learn about how Jesus’ family viewed in John 7:1-10. Jesus had his mom, dad and a group of brothers. These brothers would have grown up with their older brother being sinless, which would have been an experience! Their opinion about Jesus falls into a similar category as those who followed Jesus around for the miracles, they are able to see that something is different about Jesus but they miss the point. Our passage opens with them encouraging Jesus to go up to the Feast of Tabernacles to show himself publicly with his powerful works. The Feast of Tabernacles was a time when the people of God would re-enact their wandering in the wilderness and remember God’s faithfulness by building tents they’d camp in for the week. It was a really popular festival and would draw a big crowd around Jerusalem. It would be an ideal place to draw a crowd and replenish the disciples he lost at the end of John 6. Jesus told them that they were operating with worldly principles and that it was not his “time.” The word for time here is not the one for the time on a clock but the “appointed time” or we’d say “such and such happened at just the right time.” Jesus was looking to the Father for when to go up to the Feast and how he’d go about it. Ultimately they acted this way towards Jesus because they did not yet believe; it could be that they were openly mocking Jesus or just operating with a worldly perspective but either way it was not rooted in faith (John 7:5). 

Second, Jesus went up to the feast privately, but John gives us a hint that even in his absence the crowds of common people were talking about him. The common people were divided over Jesus because he was doing all these good works, but others thought he was leading people astray because of how he approached their law and made claims they thought were false (John 7:12). At one point during the feast he mentioned that the religious leaders were trying to kill him and the common people responded that he must have a demon, meaning “you’re acting like a lunatic!” (John 7:20). They were divided that he was either a good person, a liar or a lunatic because of all these claims he was making.

The religious leaders saw Jesus as a threat. They ordered the temple guards to arrest Jesus and were actively seeking to take his life. The temple guards went to arrest Jesus, but they came back empty handed because the temple guards themselves were captivated by the teaching of Jesus (John 7:32, 40-46). This left the religious leaders in division as they start to search their own ranks to see if anyone among them secretly followed Jesus. Nicodemus, who we met in chapter 3, spoke up that they should not rush to judgement until they gave him a hearing, showing us his growing affinity for Jesus.

Underlying this whole division around Jesus is the question, “Is he the Christ?” 
The common people were wondering if he was the Christ because of the works he was doing and they did not see the authorities moving to silence him, even though that was happening behind the scenes (John 7:25-27). 

C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity addressed the various categories that we see in John 7 and called it the “trilemma.” Many people see Jesus as a good teacher or a good person, but that is not an option that we can take because it dismisses the claims Jesus makes about himself and his teaching. If Jesus was only a good person but not God in the flesh, then he’d be a liar because he claimed to reconcile people to God in his death and that his resurrection would bring life to all who believe and that he was one with the Father; and if he was just a good person then none of that would be true. It is possible that he was a lunatic, meaning he was self deluded and leading people astray, but he still would not be a good teacher or a good person in that scenario. The only other possibility is that he is really the Lord and that his good actions and miracles validate what he says about his divinity and his being the Christ. He is either a liar, a lunatic or the Lord. Jesus cannot be merely a good person. 

This passage causes us to ask the question, “is Jesus the Lord?” and “are we living with him as Lord in our lives?” It is easy to want to see him as merely a good teacher because we can make a judgement about Jesus but not have to really deal with the issues at hand. Calling him or Lord means that he is our king and to give him our allegiance means 

So who is he? Liar, Lunatic or Lord? 

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week? 

Discussion Questions:

Read through John 7:1-13

How did Jesus family, the crowd and the religious leaders think about Jesus? 

The common people were divided thinking he was either a good person or leading people astray. How could they take these very different positions? Do you think this debate happens in our modern world? Why or why not?

Read John 7:32, 40-52

How did the religious leaders respond to Jesus? How do the guards respond and what does that teach us about Jesus teaching?

How does Jesus being Lord change the life of someone who follows Jesus? (Think about what it means that he is king). What are some reasons people could be fearful or scared to have Jesus as the Lord of their life?