Cross sculpture on campus



God in our Midst

Lent 2022

Read John 7:1-24

1 After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. 2 Now the Jews' Feast of Booths was at hand. 3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. 4 For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For not even his brothers believed in him. 6 Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. 8 You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After saying this, he remained in Galilee.

10 But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. 11 The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” 12 And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” 13 Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him.

14 About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. 15 The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” 16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man's whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

The Feast of Booths was a big fall celebration. Think of a harvest festival, Octoberfest, and Thanksgiving all rolled into one. It commemorated God’s ongoing provision and presence by remembering the days following the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt. Jews would recall how God provided for the daily needs of their ancestors with bread that came from heaven, quail for meat, and water bursting from rocks. This celebration was the backdrop of Jesus’ words, “I am the bread of life.” Sadly, many who had followed Jesus walked away because they found Jesus’ words too difficult.

Struggle and rejection continues in today’s reading as Jesus’ brothers seem to mock him. In addition, while some people in the crowds marvel at Jesus’ teaching, others raise opposition. John’s Gospel opened by introducing Jesus as the Word made flesh, God dwelling (literally translated “tabernacling”) among us. With John’s introduction in mind, the timing of these rejections underscores the irony. The Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths) recalls how the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years because of their rebellion, but God mercifully made a place for himself in the midst of his rebellious people. His tabernacle was in the center of the community as a reminder of his holy presence. How sad that as they gathered to remember God’s dwelling among his people of old, they were also rebelling against Jesus, God in the flesh, who physically stands in their midst.

Our Lord still places himself in our midst. He has sent his Holy Spirit into our lives, gathers us to hear and read his living word, and calls us together as the assembly of his people. In these things and in so many ways Jesus has promised, I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, because of your tender love for sinners, you have given me your Son, that believing in him, I would have life. Continue to grant me your Holy Spirit that I may remain steadfast in this faith to the end. Amen.

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