The large Jewish celebration of the agricultural harvest and the coming of the Messiah is the Feast of Tabernacles. It is a time when foreigners, that is the “outsiders”, the non-Jewish “Gentiles” were actually invited to come to worship the Lord with the Israelites and to learn about God (Deut 31: 9-13, Zech 14:16).
During this time Jesus’ brothers wanted him to go to Judea to perform miracles so the disciples and others will see what he can do because: “No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret” (Jn 7: 2-5). But Jesus says not now: “because the right time has not yet come”.
While this very significant annual feast is occuring, a time of celebrating the “harvest” and the coming of the Messiah, a time where foreigners are welcome to mingle with the Jews the religious leaders are found trying to kill Jesus (Jn 7: 1, 25) and the people are recorded whispering with one another and wondering about who Jesus is (Jn 7:12, 13). Jesus, the Messiah, has exquisite timing.
Jesus does later go, but: “in secret” (Jn 7:10). And when he arrives he does no miracles, but rather waits until the midpoint of the feast and begins to teach in the temple courts, the location where the more common people would be found. Here he teaches about the true meaning of sabbath, and circumcision (Jn 7: 16-25) directly confronting the religious establishment’s misplaced understanding.
The people’s reactions are recorded discussing Jesus’ identity, where he’s from, and wondering about the curious reactions of the Jewish and government leaders’ responses. Then Jesus “cries out”: “I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true” (Jn 7:28).
Jesus is the representation of what is true. Not religion, but truth. And he explains all this at a perfectly timed public event with the perfect audience. This is his public spectacle.
Let’s get to know Jesus. Not religion, not church events or programs. Not charismatic or learned leaders. Though all these may be good things they are not Jesus. Let’s be sure to know Jesus and what is true. And let’s never forget the outsider, because most of us were them at one time.