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March 23, 2012 – Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent . The reading is from Gospel of John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

After this, Jesus moved about within Galilee; but he did not wish to travel in Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him. But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near.

But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but [as it were] in secret.

So some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said, “Is he not the one they are trying to kill? And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him. Could the authorities have realized that he is the Messiah? But we know where he is from. When the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”

So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said, “You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”

So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.

The Feast of Booths.

Shekakh (Booth)

Sukkot also called The Feast of Tabernacles, The Feast of Booths, falls on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. The seventh month according to the Jewish calendar is named Tishri (September-October). This was the third feast that required a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple and offer sacrifices and offerings to the Lord. Leviticus 23:33-43 we read that God told Moses to tell the Israelites about this feast and how to celebrate it.

33 The LORD said to Moses:

34 Tell the Israelites: The fifteenth day of this seventh month is the LORD’s feast of Booths, which shall continue for seven days.

35 On the first day, a declared holy day, you shall do no heavy work.

36 For seven days you shall offer an oblation to the LORD, and on the eighth day you will have a declared holy day. You shall offer an oblation to the LORD. It is the festival closing. You shall do no heavy work.

37 These, therefore, are the festivals of the LORD which you shall declare holy days, in order to offer as an oblation to the LORD burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and libations, as prescribed for each day,

38 in addition to the LORD’s sabbaths, your donations, your various votive offerings, and the voluntary offerings that you present to the LORD.

39 On the fifteenth day, then, of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD for a whole week. The first and the eighth day shall be days of rest.

40 On the first day you shall gather fruit of majestic trees, branches of palms, and boughs of leafy trees and valley willows. Then for a week you shall make merry before the LORD, your God.

41 You shall keep this feast of the LORD for one whole week in the year. By perpetual statute throughout your generations in the seventh month of the year, you shall keep it.

42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days; every native-born Israelite shall dwell in booths,

43 that your descendants may realize that, when I led the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, I made them dwell in booths. I, the LORD, am your God.

At the Temple

Since most of the people attending the Feast of the Tabernacles came from different areas outside of Jerusalem, they would not have known about Jesus. But in the crowd were Jews from Jerusalem who knew that the elders of the Temple were seeking to kill Him. The ordinary Jews, who were not priests or scholars, note that Jesus spoke boldly and with authority.

Because the authorities, the priests in the temple, were not stopping Jesus from preaching nor were  they seeking to arrest him, to kill him, they discuss among themselves and pose the question “Could the authorities have realized that he is the Messiah?”

The questions the ordinary Jews discussed among themselves reveal two things, namely, the Jews during the period of Jesus were expecting the Messiah to appear to redeem them frome the Roman yoke but were not aware of the details concerning the coming of the Messiah. Secondly, they also knew the authorities were waiting to apprehend Jesus and consequently kill him. If the powers that be allowed Jesus to teach openly in the Temple, did they know that Jesus was indeed the Messiah that they were anxiously waitg for?

“But we know where he is from. When the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” (John 7:27) shows us that the Jews were not conversant with the passages in the scriptures relating to coming of the Messiah. They believed that the Messiah would certainly come, but no one would know where he came from.

Jesus, knowing their thoughts and lack of understanding, cries out loudly “You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” (John 7:27)

There are many views on who Jesus was and who he himself claimed to be. In the gospels we see Jesus making repeated statements as to who he was:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7)

“You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” (John 7:28b-29)

“I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

“I am the way and the truth* and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father.* From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7)

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