Jesus at the Feast of Tents
( Originally Published 1915 )
AT THE TIME when Jesus came to Jerusalem, the Feast of Tents was half over. Many had been looking for him, for all through the land he was talked about. At the Feast the people were saying, "Where is he? Has he come up to the Feast?"
Some said, "He is a good man." Others said, "No, he cannot be a good man, for he is leading the people away from the law of Moses." But no one spoke freely about him, for fear of the rulers and the people of Jerusalem whose minds had been set against Jesus by the priests and the scribes or teachers of the law.
From his home in Bethany at Martha's house, Jesus came quietly into the Temple and began teaching the people who gathered there during the Feast, going out at evening to Bethany. All who heard him wondered at his words, and every day the crowds around him grew. People said to each other, "How did this man get all his knowledge? He has never studied in the college of the scribes."
"My teaching," said Jesus in answer, "is not my own; but it comes from Him who sent me. Any one who chooses to do God's will, will know whether I speak in God's name, or whether I am talking in my own name. Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you honestly tries to keep the law. If you did try to keep the law, you would not try to kill me!"
The crowd replied to Jesus, "You are crazy! Who is trying to kill you?"
But Jesus knew that he was speaking the truth, for he knew what was in the minds of the rulers and of many in Jerusalem. He said to the crowd :
"I will be with you only a little longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me, and where I am going, you cannot come."
"Where is this man going," said the Jews, "that we cannot find him? Is he going among our people in foreign lands, to teach the foreigners? What does he mean by words like these?"
Jesus meant that after they should kill him and he should rise from the tomb and live again, he was going back to his home in heaven, a place to which they could never come.
The last and greatest day of the Feast of Tents came. On that day they brought water into the Temple and poured it out, amid great rejoicing; calling to mind how God had given water from the rock to the Isrāelites in the desert.
In the midst of the pouring out of the water, Jesus cried with a very loud voice, so that .all heard him :
"If any one is thirsty," he said, "let him come to me and drink ! He who believes in me, out of him shall flow rivers of living water ! "
Some of the people, when they heard this, said, "This must be really the Prophet who is to come!"
Others said, "This is the Christ, the King of Israel!"
But there were those who said, "No, this cannot be Christ the King, for this man comes from Galilee, and the Bible says that Christ is to come from the line of King David and from David's town of Bethlehem."
These people knew that Jesus came to them from Galilee, but they did not know that he had been born in Bethlehem and belonged to the royal line of David. They were divided over Jesus : some thought that he was their promised king, while others wanted to seize him as a teacher of falsehood. The rulers sent out officers to make him their prisoner, but somehow no man dared to lay hands upon him.
When the officers came back to the chief priests and leading men, they were asked, "Why did you not bring this man with you?"
The officers answered, "No man ever spoke as this man speaks!"
"What ! has this man led you astray, too?" said the rulers. "Have any of the leading men, or the Pharisees, believed in him? As for this crowd who know nothing of the law, they are of no account!"
Nicodemus, that one of the rulers who a year before had come by night to talk with Jesus, said to them:
"Surely our law does not allow any man to be treated as guilty before hearing what he has to say and finding out what he has done!"
"Are you too from Galilee, like all the followers of this man?" they answered him. "Search, and you will find that no prophet ever comes from Galilee."
In the evening all the people went to their homes, and Jesus went over the Mount of Olives to his friends at Bethany.