The Feast of Tabernacles

The Life of Jesus Christ - Chapter 7 - Jesus visits Jerusalem - Part 1

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John chapter 7

The *Feast of Tabernacles is a special time for Jewish people. They remember how good God has been to them. It happens at harvest time every year. The Jews take the branches of trees and make shelters for themselves. They live in the shelter for eight days. It is a happy time when they thank God. Modern Jews sometimes live in tents at this time.

Danger in Jerusalem

It was now the third year of Jesusís special work for God, and it was autumn. Six months after this, Jesus would die on the cross. Every time that Jesus went to Jerusalem there was more danger for him. The men who ruled the Jews in Jerusalem were enemies of Jesus. They now wanted to kill him as soon as possible.

On a previous visit to Jerusalem, Jesus had cured a man. The man had not been able to walk for 38 years. Jesus cured the man on the Sabbath. (The Sabbath was the 7th day of the week. It was when people rested.) This made the *Pharisees in particular very angry. They thought that nobody should do any work on the Sabbath (John 5). When Jesus discussed this with them, he called God his own father. So, Jesus linked himself with God. This made him equal with God (John 5:16-18). The enemies of Jesus plotted to kill him. Probably there were other reasons why they hated Jesus. Jesus taught people how God wanted them to live. Godís standards were different from menís standards. He showed people that their leadersí and rulersí standards were not good enough. Other people could see this, and the rulers were losing their power. Jesus was in danger at Jerusalem.

Now it was the time for the *Feast of Tabernacles. To obey the Jewish law (Deuteronomy 16:16) all males should go to Jerusalem. So, people asked, 'Would Jesus go or not?' If Jesus went, nobody expected his safe return. Even Jesus' brothers said to him (John 7:3-5), ĎWhy do you not go up to the *feast?í They did not believe in him.

The three greatest Jewish *feasts

There were three *feasts, when Jews had to go to the *Temple in Jerusalem.

  The first one was called Passover. (Passover was a time when the Jews remembered their time in Egypt. They had been slaves in Egypt. God killed the oldest sons in each family in Egypt, but God protected the Jews. He 'passed over' them.) Passover was in springtime. It was the most important *feast for the Jewish religion. Passover is at the same time of year as Easter. Jesus died at the time of the Passover *feast. So on Easter Sunday, Christians remember Jesus' *resurrection.

The other two *feasts were agricultural. The Jews thanked God for the harvest.

  At the *feast called Pentecost, the Jews thanked God for the harvest of grain. This was about seven weeks after Passover. That is when the grain harvest would be for the Jews. Christians remember God's gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This is because God gave the Holy Spirit to the *disciples at Pentecost.

  The second agricultural *feast was the *Feast of Tabernacles. It was in early autumn. Jews gave thanks for the harvest of grapes. Grapes were the fruit which they made into wine (Deuteronomy 16:13). At this *feast, Jews left their houses and lived under shelters [also called tabernacles]. They made the tabernacles with the branches of trees. This was to remind them that God gave them food and drink in the desert. Moses led them through this desert after they left Egypt. God provided their food in the desert by a *miracle. Then he gave them the land called Israel to live in.

People travelled to Jerusalem for the *Feast of Tabernacles

The Passover (Easter) was really the most important *feast, but the rules for it were very strict. For example, the people had to eat special bread, which they did not enjoy. They preferred the *Feast of Tabernacles. It made them very happy to have the harvest of grapes. The grapes would make wine. Perhaps this shows us that the Jews did not always obey the rules for their *feasts. More Jews travelled to Jerusalem for the *Feast of Tabernacles than at any other time. They came from many parts of the world.

In this particular year, the *feast was an opportunity for Jesus to show himself. So, the people asked: would Jesus go to Jerusalem or not?


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