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John 7:14-24 Study Guide What's the Deal with Jesus? Part 2: The Truth from God

Community Group Study Guide — What’s the Deal with Jesus? Part 2 - The Truth from God
John 7:2, 14-24

Study Information:
The people of God had various feast and festivals throughout the year to remind them of Gods character and what he has done. One of the most well known feasts was Passover which commemorated God’s deliverance of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. Each of the gospels mention Passover and how Jesus connects to being the Passover lamb and provided freedom from slavery to sin and death. Another important feast was the Feast of Tabernacles and it is only mentioned in the gospel of John. This is likely due to the significance of what Tabernacles celebrated and how core that was to the message of the gospel: Jesus is God dwelling with us. We will explore the feast of tabernacles and the teaching Jesus gave in John 7:14-24. 

The Feast of Tabernacles
John 7:2, 14
Whereas Passover commemorated God delivering Israel from slavery in Egypt, Tabernacles commemorated God’s presence with them in the wilderness. After they were freed from slavery and received the Law of God, the people of God sent scouts into the Promised Land consisting of one person from each tribe. They brought back a report filled with positive things but was marked by fear. They all said the land was filled with abundant crops and beauty, but 10 of the 12 scouts were marked by fear of the armies and giants in the land. Fear of this spread throughout God’s people and they refused to go in. God prohibited them from going into the Promised Land for 40 years when the unbelieving and fearful generation would have died off, this meant wandering in the wilderness. Remember, they had just seen God deliver them from the most powerful army in the ancient world at the time, Egypt. This was not them just being weak, it was a willful doubt and rebellion. But, even in this season God did not abandon them. In response to their sin he remained near to them. God led them around the wilderness for 40 years as a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. They’d sent up tents around the tabernacle which was a large tented meeting place of worship and as the pillar of fire/cloud moved they’d follow. Each day they’d have a reminder of God’s presence with them in their wandering. The Feast of Tabernacles celebrated that presence. If you want to dig in more on the specifics of the Feast of Tabernacles read Leviticus 23:34-43, Numbers 29:12-34, Deuteronomy 16:13-17.

The Feast of Tabernacles occurred 6 months after Passover during the olive and grape harvest. And it was a time of celebration and joy. The Law told them to set up tents for 7 days; there were also details about sacrifices to make and how to celebrate. During the time of Jesus the city of Jerusalem would swell with 300,000-500,000 more people celebrating this time. It kind of looked like a national camping trip with people outside the city walls and city dwellers setting up tents on their roof tops. Each day would include processions from the city gates with water from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple and while singing of psalms they’d pour out the water onto the altar. 

Halfway through the Feast, day 3 or 4, Jesus went and taught and this made the connection that just as God was with their ancestors in the wilderness, so now God has shown up to them in their wandering and lostness. Jesus makes the same connection that John made earlier in the gospel when he wrote, “The Word became flesh and dwelt with us.” The word “dwelt” is the greek word Skeno and it shows up in John 7:2 as the word “booth” or “tabernacles.”  This was the feast of “dwelling.” The sending of Jesus was God’s response to their sin and oppression. But, would they recognize and receive him?

The Truth from God
John 7:15-24
Jesus told the people that he sought God’s glory and that made him “true” with no falsehood (John 7:18). In our modern day we read the word “true” and think “objective fact” which is certainly applicable to Jesus, but there is more to it than that. Jesus uses the word true here to talk about being “real” and as a manifestation of God’s faithfulness. Jesus fulfilled the feast’s intentions and as he taught in verses 19-24, he is the one that the Law and even all of Israel’s history pointed to. The last time Jesus was in Jerusalem they were angry with him and wanted to kill him because he healed a man who was paralyzed for 38 years on a Sabbath and broke the rules they had put around that commandment. They also questioned his authority since he did not come from one of the traditional Jewish schools as a rabbi (John 7:15). Jesus’ reply was that his teaching was valid because he came from God and glorified God, he was not self serving. And he pressed in on this issue of healing on the Sabbath by pointing out that they missed the point of the commandant. Suppose they had a child born 8 days before a Sabbath. There was a law that on the 8th day they’d need to circumcise their male children on the 8th day. Would they be breaking the Sabbath by keeping the commandment to circumcise? Everyone agreed, no! So, why did they think that Jesus broke the Sabbath by healing this man and telling him to take up his mat and walk? He was making that man’s whole body whole and enabling him to be in God’s presence in the temple again. Jesus challenged them because they were missing out on “God with them” because they were believing in lies. They believed that real authority was based on the right credentials and that if the Law of God was good, more rules would make it better. 

Jesus, by correcting them and using this example of the healing on the Sabbath was essentially saying that he was the fulfillment of the commandments because he was God present with them. The God who dwells among them. But, they did not have eyes to see it. They were like their forefathers with hard hearts and not wanting to really do the will of God from the heart (John 7:17).

As people today, we get to experience God dwelling with us. We see the example in Jesus, and as we will explore in the next study guide, Jesus does one better in the promise of sending the Holy Spirit would would how God takes up residence in our hearts. 

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:

Holidays always have a theme behind them that highlight a virtue we want to celebrate. The festivals were all designed to help the people remember and grow in some part of their story. What is your favorite holiday today and what virtue does it highlight? What did the Feast of Tabernacles represent?

How were they supposed to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and how did that connect to the wandering in the wilderness?

Read John 1:14 and 1:18. How does this earlier teaching explain why John would highlight Tabernacles in his gospel. 

Read John 7:14-24. They object to Jesus being the truth from God by challenging his authority to teach and his breaking of their commandments around the Law. How does Jesus respond to each of these challenges? 

How does the truth of God dwelling with us impact your faith and life right now?