Short Meditations in John 7: 8. Unique Strategy (2)
Jn 7:8 You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.”
Now some may stumble over this for here we have Jesus denying he is going to the Feast of Tabernacles and yet a few verses later we read, “after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.” (v.10) The skeptical will say, “A lie!” but that forgets what we have seen in these earlier verses in chapter 7.
We have said, more than once, that Jesus only went at the leading of his Father, and I would suggest that there are possibly three answers to the query, that take us beyond mere surface considerations, and take us into revelation about the relationship between Father and Son.
The first answer is that at that moment, Jesus had had no indication that he was to go to the feast. He is still waiting upon the Father for the next thing He wants him to do. A little later, after the distraction of the brothers has gone, he hears the Father and so then goes.
The second answer is that he is responding to the intention of the brothers that he goes up to gain publicity, fame and a further following. His answer may be taken to mean, therefore, I am not going up to the festival for any of these reasons.
The third answer, as a follow-on to this previous one, is that although he is going up to the festival it is not to attend and participate in the celebrations but actually to do the work of the Father which, we will eventually see, is to bring teaching and revelation. He does not need to comply with the Father’s general will for the general Jewish male population for he does not need reminding of the Father by any of these means and he does not need to honor the Father in that way. No, he is constantly aware of the Father and he is constantly honoring the Father through obedience in a moment by moment way, not just when specific opportunities arise to keep the Law.
We catch in this, a glimpse of the difference between the law-keeping religious person and the Spirit-filled and Spirit-led believer. The Law keeper says we have to act in this way because it is there in Scripture. The Spirit-led believer says, we will not go against what is there in Scripture but we will go beyond that by being sensitive to the leading of the Spirit. So nowhere in Scripture do you find, “Ring up your friend, they are in special need of encouragement at this moment,” or “Go down to the village, there is someone who will be there I want you to meet and talk to.” The ‘Law’ takes us so far and gives us general directions for life, but it will be the Spirit who puts specific directions on our heart for this moment and this situation.