What are you like under pressure? You know that saying about life being hot water and you are the tea bag? Who you really are will come out under pressure. How often do you and I rationalize our bad behavior?
“I wouldn’t yell so much if it weren’t for these kids.”
“It’s because of all those demands at work, otherwise I’d smile a lot more.”
“How can I help myself from doing this thing, or acting that way, when I’m under so much pressure?”
In chapter 7, the pressure had mounted, yet how Jesus responded was dramatically different than how the religious authorities acted.
About six months had gone by between chapter 6 and chapter 7, in John’s gospel. The other gospels record how Jesus had stayed in Galilee during that time, and it was nearing one of the three feasts all Jewish men were expected to attend in Jerusalem.
- Passover came in the spring.
- Pentecost followed forty days later.
- Feast of Booths, or tabernacles, took place in late September, early October.
The Feast of Booths lasted seven days, beginning with the Feast of lngathering, celebrating the harvest, which was considered a Sabbath, and symbolized God’s salvation to all people one day, when the Lord would gather in all nations to God.
This was the people’s favorite holiday, full of feasting, singing and enjoyment. Three-sided huts were constructed from tree branches on roof tops, in the parks and streets, everywhere, and everyone lived in these lean-tos for the whole week, reminding them of their ancestors living in the desert during the Exodus.
The temple, white marble covered in gold sheets, would be lit up at night by a giant menorah, the Jewish candelabra, to signify God’s Shekinah in the pillar of fire and cloud that led the people through the desert.
Early every morning sacrifices were made while a priest with a golden pitcher led the whole city, singing the Hillel Psalms, 113 to 118. They would proceed down to the pool of Siloam to fill up from the water pouring out of the mountain rock, commemorating the time God provided Israel with water from the rock Moses struck. The priest would bring this pitcher, held high, back up to the temple mount with the people singing and dancing.
There, the priest would be met by another priest holding up a golden pitcher filled with new wine crushed from the grapes harvested in late summer, as a whole orchestra of instruments accompanied the people singing. Yet two more priests with silver trumpets would play in between each stanza of the Psalms.
Together, the two priests would pour both pitchers out by the altar.
At that moment all the people would cry out “Therefore with joy will you draw water from the wells of salvation,” from Isaiah 12:3. It was understood the water represented both physical water from the rock that saved the Hebrews in the desert, and also the outpouring of God’s Spirit.
During this festival the whole of Moses’ Law would be read out loud to the people.
As a note to you and me,
- Passover would be fulfilled in the sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God, on the cross.
- Pentecost would be fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples after Jesus’ resurrection.
- But the trumpet call, the Feast of lngathering and the Feast of Booths has not yet been fulfilled!
We are still looking forward to that, when the Lord Jesus calls all of his own from among the nations, to be gathered up to him on the last day.
So, it is to this feast that Jesus’ brothers were pressuring him to attend, as chapter 7 opens, the exciting feast that everybody made a point of attending. They told Jesus if he really wanted to get his movement off the ground, he was going to have to ramp it up a notch!
Depart from here and lead on to Judea, for in order that your disciples may look on as you work these deeds, for no one who works in concealment then seeks to be bold and free in speech—if you perform these works, make yourself apparent to the world!Jesus’ brothers, John 7:3-4
Listen, big brother, they all ribbed him, Galilee is the sticks, you need to go where the people are! You’ve gotta let your disciples see all this, keep them charged up.
If you want to be a public figure, you need to think about public relations. Advertise! Keep your name in front of people!
Keep up the miracles, that’s what people want to see, that’s what’s going to get you noticed.
Perhaps they meant well. They may have loved Jesus. But they did not believe Jesus was Messiah, God the Son
Even well-meaning people, friends and family, can put pressure on you and me to run ahead of God. Or maybe it is even an internal pressure, wanting to push a situation, pull strings, “make it happen,” impatient with God’s timing, not trusting God’s methods or God’s principles, not satisfied with God’s response to prayer.
This is when you and I remember how Jesus described himself as doing nothing but what the Father showed him.
Jesus made three points to his brothers:
- “My season, my proper time, is not yet at hand, though your own season and opportunity is always to hand.” (John 7:6)
The Greek word for time in this verse means “best opportunity.” Jesus reminded his brothers there was already a plan for his life in which timing was all-important. Since they did not believe, they did not seek God’s will for the direction in their own lives.
You and I cannot save time like we can save money. The best thing we can do is spend time wisely. The only other choice is to waste time. The balance is to be able to flex with God’s timing while at the same time making a plan for the day so that we are proactive about spending our time wisely.
Throughout the day we can ask the Lord, what next? What is the best time for this? How much time should I spend on this?
True discipline of time is not scheduling every moment.True discipline of time means always being ready to do what is the right next thing to do, to have room for the unexpected.
- “The world is not able to hate you. But it hates me, for I testify concerning its deeds as grievous, malicious, hurtful, and evil.” (John 7:7)
“The world” pertains to all those who do not love and know God, who do not follow God’s will. As the Light, Jesus exposed the darkness of the world, of those who did not live by the truth. The world hates to be exposed, (as you and I will see later in this chapter). But Jesus’ brothers were not light, they blended right in with other nonbelievers.
- “To you, you all go up to the holy festival: I myself am not going up into this holy day, because my time has not yet been made complete.” (John 7:8)
Jesus meant he was not going to the festival under his brothers’ terms.
Jesus must have felt very alone at that point, feeling the stress of their pressure. How often do you and I feel alone, or under pressure, even in our own families? We feel pressured to keep the peace, give in for the sake of harmony, go against our better judgment. But Jesus, who is completely sympathetic with your situation, having gone through the very same thing himself, put his confidence in knowing the Father’s will for his life and following it.
He chose to speak the truth in love, instead.
I have heard speaking the truth in love described this way: You make a sandwich with two big slices of love, and you slip the meat of truth right in between them.
“Grandma, I love you and you are important to me. I would rather not have a piece of your famous fruit bread. But that does not mean I do not love you. I do, and appreciate you, too.”
In God’s plan for your life, timing is important
Think about it.
When you are throwing a surprise party, you do not jump out from behind the couch the day before and yell “Surprise!” Your timing would be totally off.
What pressure or advice do you need to resist because it is not coming from God?
And once you are confident in what the Lord has for you, then do not waver. The time has come, the time is now.
[Sukkoth | Ron Almog, flickr, (CC BY 2.0)]