Who Is Jesus: A Good Man? A Prophet? A Liar? God?


Maybe you’ve got your story straight on Jesus. Or, maybe you’re still struggling with understanding Who this Man is, and how He integrates into your life. This week, we’ll read John 7 and answer some of these questions that you—or others who ask you—have.

After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

-          The original manuscripts wouldn’t have had chapter and verse breaks. So, when we see the word “therefore” or “after this,” we must go back and review what happened previously. Here’s a recap of the end of 6:

66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)

-          Many disciples had turned back and chose to no longer follow Him because His teaching was hard to accept, and some sought to kill Him; therefore, Jesus headed toward Galilee. He intentionally withdrew from Judea because the tension was compounding, and Jesus knew His hour had not yet come (John 2:1-5). While it’s not clear in John’s gospel, if you look at Matthew, Mark, and Luke, you will learn what Jesus did when He withdrew from Judea and went around Galilee. It was about a six-month time frame.

-          Let’s talk about the Festival of Tabernacles and provide ourselves with a little bit of history and context:

o   The Feast of Tabernacles or Festival of Tabernacles was a week-long, joyful celebration around the September or October time frame.

o   Its purpose was to look back and remember the Israelite’s journey through the wilderness and look forward to the promised kingdom of Messiah (Wiersbe).

o   During this seven-day period, the Jews lived in booths (sukkots) made of branches to remind them of God’s providential care of the nation. Here are some photos of modern day sukkots in Jerusalem (it’s fascinating!).

-          We know that Jesus had been in the Galilean area for several months, and so His brothers [Mary had more children with Joseph as their natural father] “counseled” Jesus to go to Judea and put on a big show, so He’d regain followers. This advice wasn’t offered in sincerity, but in unbelief and rejection. This is an applicable verse for us because we must be cautious on who we allow to speak into our lives. Not every person has earned that honor, and we must “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:15).

Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.

10 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?”

12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.”

Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.

-          Jesus stated that His time had not yet come. That word time is the word kairos, and it means opportunity

-          Remember that the Feast of Tabernacles was to point people toward the coming Messiah. Yet, there were people (like Jesus’ own brothers) who were so focused on the ritual, they were rejecting the Truth.

God, show me the areas in my heart where the ritual is causing me to reject You. Help me not to rush into my own plans and worldly marketing schemes. Instead, I want to allow You to show me the best time to do something—that moment when the opportunity is ripe and it’s Your absolute best.

-          Some people want to nit-pick at verse 10 because previously, Jesus said He would not go up to the festival as His brothers suggested (verse 3-4; 8), yet then He did go. Notice the difference in intent as you read verses 3 and 4, and then verse 8. Jesus’ brothers wanted Him to go up publicly, show off His signs and wonders, and draw in a big crowd. That was not Jesus’ style. He did go to the feast, but He did so in a private manner.

-          Note how the people argued over who Jesus was: a good man v. a liar. I like what C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. . . Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.

14 Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”

-          You could always count on Jesus teaching others. I love that about Him—the Shepherd can easily be found tending to His sheep. He’s ready to make you lie down in green pastures, next to still waters, and restore your soul (Psalm 23).

-          The Jewish leaders knew Jesus hadn’t studied or been discipled under any rabbi. So, it was incredibly perplexing to them to listen to Him teach the Scriptures—and with such authority. That’s because Jesus is the Word wrapped in flesh (John 1:14). It’s easy to teach something that you are.

16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”

20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”

21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

-          Jesus was trying to get the people to stop looking for His credentials and start listening to His doctrine. If they had been willing to hear, they would’ve seen how the Scriptures pointed to Him.

-          What’s all the circumcision talk? Well, it was lawful for a son to be circumcised on the Sabbath (Leviticus 12:3). Jesus point was this: If it’s lawful for a boy to be circumcised on the Sabbath—when foreskin is removedand something is taken away, why is it not lawful to give to someone on the Sabbath through an act of healing? #stumped  

-          Jesus tells the people to stop judging by mere appearances (i.e., you may hear it referred to as discrimination or unconscious bias in today’s world) and instead, judge correctly (which can only be done through provisional wisdom and discernment from God). I like what 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” I’m so thankful that when God sees me, He only sees Jesus.

25 At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? 27 But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”

28 Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”

-          Do you recall what I titled this study? Who Jesus Is: The Fourth Gospel. The fourth gospel is essential. John gives us a direct look into the heart of Jesus—into who Jesus is. It was a book that was written for one purpose: that we might believe. The people were struggling with Who Jesus was in these verses. There was still disbelief in the hearts of the people, even though the Truth was made clear to them. Let’s take a moment and be thankful that God opened our eyes to see the Truth set before us.

30 At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?”

32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.

33 Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”

35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? 36 What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”

-          Repeatedly in this gospel, we see the people interpreting what Jesus was saying in a literal way, not in a spiritual. God is so patient with us, even when we are dumb sheep!

-          I love how Jesus spoke with boldness and courage. He never shied away from speaking the Truth and He lived a brave life on earth.

All-Powerful God, embolden us, just as you did Your Son, to speak Your Word to others.

37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

-          It’s now the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles and Jesus has been teaching in the temple area and the people are in a joyous state. Warren Wiersbe tells us this:

The last day of the feast would be the seventh day, a very special day on which the priests would march seven times around the altar, chanting Psalm 118:25. It would be the last time they would draw the water and pour it out. No doubt just as they were pouring out the water, symbolic of the water Moses drew from the rock, Jesus stood and shouted His great invitation to thirsty sinners.

-          In understanding this context, you can see why Jesus’ words were so timely. He was declaring that those who thirsted—just like in the wandering—now could have Living Water. It was a broad (and LOUD) invitation from Jesus. He wanted all to hear and know.  

Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success! (Psalm 118:25)

40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.”

41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.”

Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.

-          Truth will bring division among unbelievers and unity among believers. In this case, division meant violent dissension. You had to pick your side, and everyone had an opinion about which side was correct. Sound familiar?

45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”

46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied.

47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.”

50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”

52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”

53 Then they all went home,

-          Verses 45 and 46 are my favorite. The Pharisees scolded the temple guards and asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” Here’s my paraphrased response from the guards: “Seriously? Have you heard this Man? He told us things we’ve never understood before. We were in awe!”

-          Our favorite night-time buddy, Nico, (from chapter 3) makes an appearance again (hi, Nicodemus, thanks for showing up to defend Jesus!). He reminded his Pharisee bros about the law requiring a hearing prior to conviction.

-          The people continued to be confused because they knew the Scriptures stated the Messiah would be from Bethlehem. Jews (mostly) thought the Messiah would just “appear.” They didn’t think about Him being born as a baby in Bethlehem, and then growing up in Nazareth. I mean, that’s a #boring story. Who would’ve written it that way? Yeah, so, God usually writes better stories than us. We should practice surrendering our pen daily.

-          “Then they all went home…” The rest will be continued next week, but 53 in a nice breaking point. They went home. Which reminds me of how much I want to be home with Jesus, too. Maranatha (Come, Lord Jesus). We’re ready for your come back, Jesus. Amen.




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