John 7:1-24 Jesus goes to the Festival of the Shelters

Read John 7:1

1 After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death.


*Why were they trying to kill him? Jesus had called himself God’s son, but really they were jealous of him


Read John 7:2

2 But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters,


Since the Feast of Tabernacles is about 6 months after the Feast of Passover, about six months had elapsed since John chapter 6.


*Can you think of any other Festivals?


There are 7 main Festivals in Israel


In the Spring

  • The Feast of Passover – Salvation
  • The Unleavened Bread – Purity
  • The Feast of Firstfruits – God’s Provision
  • The Feast of Pentecost – God’s Provision


In the Fall

  • The Feast of Trumpets – Worship
  • The Day of Atonement – Confession
  • The Feast of Tabernacles – Presence of the Lord


The 3 major ones are Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles


*What is the festival of Shelters or Tabernacles? According to Leviticus 23


The Festival of Shelters begins on the fifteenth day of the seventh month ( approximates our October)  and continues for seven days. You live in a shelter or tent.  It is to remind the Israelites of when they wandered in the desert.  It is also a joyful celebration like Thanksgiving, the land was full of food.  The people were to remember that it is God who gave them food for forty years in the desert, and it is God who still gives them their food.  Temple-trumpets were blown on each day. There was the ceremony of the outpouring of water, drawn from Siloam, in commemoration of the refreshing stream which had come forth miraculously out of the rock at Meribah (Ex. 17:1-7). There was the illumination of the inner court of the temple, where the light of the grand candelabra reminded one of the pillar of fire by night which had served as a guide through the desert (Num. 14:14). There was a torch-parade.  For the first seven days, 70 bulls were offered for the nations of the world but everything built toward the last day, when one bull was offered for Israel.

*How was this festival like Jesus?  The water, the light, the sacrifice


Read John 7:3-5 

3 and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! 

4 You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!”

5 For even his brothers didn’t believe in him. 


*Anybody know how many brothers he had?

“James, Joses, Simon, and Judas” (Matthew 13:55).


*Why do you think they said these things?  Why do you think they did not believe in Jesus? People can know Jesus as a person, like his family but still not believe.  It is harder for family to believe in you.

They did not believe that their brother Jesus was the Messiah because they felt that He was hiding; they reasoned that if He was for real, He would be more overt.


*Do you think they eventually believed in Jesus?

Acts 1:14 says that Jesus’ disciples “all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” So Jesus’ brothers eventually became believers and one of them, James, even became a Christian leader. But that’s after Jesus’ resurrection.


Read John 7:6-8

6 Jesus replied, “Now is not the right time for me to go, but you can go anytime. 

7 The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil. 

8 You go on. I’m not going to this festival, because my time has not yet come.”


*Why does the world hate Jesus?  He exposes the world’s sin.  People do not like it when you tell them what they are doing is bad.

*What time is Jesus talking about? His death, he knew the Jews wanted to kill him

*Did Jesus say that He wasn’t going to go to the feast?

No, He said He wasn’t “yet” (John 7:8) going.


Read John 7:9-10

9 After saying these things, Jesus remained in Galilee. 

10 But after his brothers left for the festival, Jesus also went, though secretly, staying out of public view. 


*Why did Jesus go in secret? The opposite of what his brothers told him to do. It would be difficult to arrest Him.


Read John 7:11-13

11 The Jewish leaders tried to find him at the festival and kept asking if anyone had seen him. 

12 There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds. Some argued, “He’s a good man,” but others said, “He’s nothing but a fraud who deceives the people.” 

13 But no one had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.


*Do we sometimes do that?  Not speak about Jesus because we are embarrassed or afraid of what people will say?

*What effect do you think His brothers going ahead had?

When Jesus’ brothers arrived first and spread the word that Jesus wasn’t coming to the feast, the Jews probably lifted whatever trap they may have laid for Jesus.


Read John 7:14&15 

14 Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach. 

15 The people were surprised when they heard him. “How does he know so much when he hasn’t been trained?” they asked.


*Why do you think Jesus went to the temple to teach when before he did not want to go? Most likely God told him to go.

*Why were they surprised?

*What was Jesus’ background?  Carpenter, most carpenters back then were probably not literate.


Aspiring rabbis had to memorize the first five books of the Old Testament – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy – by 13 years of age, then be tested by a rabbi for their memorized knowledge.  They spend years studying the Old Testament. They also added to the laws of the Old Testament.


*What are the Jews implying?

Since Jesus wasn’t taught under a rabbi, His doctrine must be something that He made up on His own.

*Jesus could have been born into a family that sent him to a Rabbinical School, why do you think God did not do this?

Read John 7:16-18

16 So Jesus told them, “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. 

17 Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. 

18 Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies. 


*Where does Jesus message come from? 

*Have you ever heard a message from God; have you ever heard a message that was not from God?  Can you feel the difference?

*What do you think about people who speak to glorify themselves?


Read John 7:19-24

19 Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me.” 20 The crowd replied, “You’re demon possessed! Who’s trying to kill you?” 

21 Jesus replied, “I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed. 

22 But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses’ law of circumcision. (Actually, this tradition of circumcision began with the patriarchs, long before the law of Moses.)

 23 For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? 

24 Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” 


*What was the miracle on the Sabbath? healing the paralytic (John 5)

*Do you think they crowd knew the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Jesus?  Probably not

*Why does Jesus bring up circumcision? The Jews revered Moses most of all.  If Moses said it was okay to break the Sabbath because of circumcision, how much more important to break the law to heal a man.



Additional Questions:


  • If you had siblings growing up, how did you interact with them? How would you have felt if Jesus had been your big brother?
  • How do you see pastors today promoting God? What happens when church leaders spend their energies on prompting themselves for pride sake?
  • How can your church better convince and model to its people the seeking of truth as opposed to self-seeking?
  • Why should seeking God and not self be the goal and attitude of life for a mature person of faith? How can you make it your goal?
  • What do you need to do to better understand God’s will and timing and not rush into something? How can you balance God’s timing and yet not be apathetic, doing nothing?