11 July 2020John 7:1-13
And there was much muttering about Jesus among the people. While some said, ‘He is a good man,’ others said, ‘No, he is leading the people astray.’ (v.12)
Psalm: Psalm 73:15-28
The Feast of the Tabernacles features at the beginning of this passage and John is the only Gospel to mention this feast. It was and still is one of the three great pilgrimage feasts of the Jewish year. It was both a festival to remember the makeshift tents that the people of Israel had used during their wilderness wanderings and also an agricultural festival celebrating the harvest of vines and olives. It went on for eight days and was a time of great anticipation when the hope of liberation from the rule of Rome was asserted along with a desire for the Messiah who would liberate the people.
Jesus’ brothers, who were sort of half-believers, were teasing him and trying to get him to go and be present and speak his message in Jerusalem – a place where many people would hear him rather than in the rural backwater of Galilee. But Jesus’ response was that his time had not yet come. The word for ‘time’ in this passage is kairos meaning opportunity or ‘the most appropriate time’. It did not mean a particular calendar time. Jesus already has a plan in his mind and that plan is to go to Jerusalem at the time of Passover, with all that that festival signified for the people.
Jesus does go up to the festival but secretly and the passage makes us aware of all the different opinions about Jesus and the fact that fear of the Jews made most people very reticent to speak of Jesus at all.
John is keeping us in suspense as he prepares us for Jesus’ true kairos moment of entering Jerusalem.
- The word kairos has been used by many theologians in recent years to indicate that the most suitable time to act or speak has come – it was used especially by theologians in South Africa in the struggle against apartheid. A Kairos Declaration was issued by the churches. Might our own time, when the COVID-19 epidemic comes to an end, be a kairos moment for the Church to speak out about what the pandemic has highlighted about our societies and our world?
- Throughout this week’s studies we have seen how the Hebrew Scriptures and the life of the people of Israel is the backdrop giving another layer of meaning to Jesus’ words and actions and to John’s telling of the story. Jesus was a Jew – might we understand our faith more fully by conversation with modern-day Jews?