STRUT YOUR STUFF: John 7
Feast of Tabernacles: The Great Day

Yahshua is found at the Feast later on.  Did he lie to his brothers?  No, he simply changed his mind.  Or maybe his intentions were none of their business.  Or maybe, if he told them he was going, they might just turn him in!

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Isaiah 11:1-5  
Psalms 68 (792 UMH) 
John 7:1-37 (exposited in the message)

   I’ve lived in the south twenty years (if you count living in South Florida as living in the South).  There really is a difference in the northern and southern cultures; to which some who’ve lived in both places can attest.  Benn Johnson set down the “Seven Signs of a Southerner” to help us gauge our progress in genteel living. 

{optional or bulletin: Here they are:

  • Strongly sensing tradition and knowledge of the past and personal heritage

  • Cherishing people, especially family

  • Offering hospitality; Southern Hospitality is legendary

  • Respecting other cultures and ways

  • Having a passion for free and personal expression

  • Living and rooted in nature and “close to the soil”

  • Enjoying life to the fullest everyday.}

Aren’t these wonderful traits?  They should be called, “Seven Signs of a Perfect Southerner.”

   Oh, besides these seven signs, some of these old southern boys are also pretty crafty:

   A college professor from New York was traveling through Alabama, lecturing on how ignorant southerners are in comparison to New Yorkers.  As he was driving his new Lexus down a county road in Alabama, an old redneck pulled his junky pickup out right in front of him and the professor smashed into the truck.  The professor immediately jumped out of the car and ran up to the old redneck’s window, beginning his lecture on ignorant crackers even before he got there. 

   Calmly, the old man pulled out a jug of moonshine from behind the seat, handed the jug to the professor and said, “Ah think we needs a little drink ta calm ah nerves, don’t you, suh?”  The professor began to feel bad for the way he’d treated this old man – the accident was minor – so he took a big old slug out of the jug.  It knocked him for a loop.  He handed the jug back to the redneck who put it behind the seat and pulled out a cell phone.  The teacher asked Red, “Aren’t you going to have a drink?”  Red started tapping the keys on his cell phone, “Yes, indeed suh.  Ah’ll have mine right after da State Troopah leaves.”

This brings us to the Eighth Sign of a southerner, “Being devious when absolutely necessary.”  Us southerners may feel free to kid each other.

    In the Gospel of John, Yahshua also published “Seven Signs of a Savior” so that all might clearly learn of his identity.  One of these signs is a special matter of discussion in our text today, as Yahshua decides whether to attend the Feast of Tabernacles way down yonder in Jerusalem.  (Please follow along with me in the Gospel of John, chapter seven.)

   1. Yahshua traversed Galilee; he would not go about in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him.  2. Now the Jews' feast of Tabernacles was at hand.  3. So his brothers said to him, "Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples may see the works you are doing.  4. For no man works in secret if he seeks to be known openly.  If you do these things, show yourself to the world."  5. For even his brothers did not believe in him. 

   Today some say the Gospel of John is anti-Semitic (i.e. “in opposition to the Jews”), because of the way it speaks of “Jews.”  However, when the text reads “Jews,” it’s speaking only of the corrupted religious leaders, not the people of Israel, whom he was called to gather.  So when the Gospel speaks of the people, it says, “the people.”  Yahshua and all his disciples were "the people.

   Unfortunately, it appears from the reading that Yahshua's own brothers were deeply involved in the corrupt religious practices of their leaders (at least that may be the implication here).  Innovation and reform are made even more difficult when one’s family isn’t on board.  It’d take a miracle for Yahshua's brothers to accept him, but he prays for them diligently (just as we pray for our loved ones), and later on they heed the signs and believe.  But at this time, they taunt him – “Go to Jerusalem and STRUT YOUR STUFF.  And, get yourself killed.”  

   6. Yahshua 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 of it that its works are evil.  8. Go to the feast yourselves; I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come."  9. So saying, 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. 

    Yahshua is brutally honest with his brothers.  He tells them that they’re essential cogs in an evil machine, so there's no danger for them; the devil protects his own for awhile.  But Yahshua is in danger because he exposes evil.  This passage doesn’t display-case Yahshua as the bespeckled professor of peace, love, and chorus singing from up north.  Yahshua is confrontational with evil, even if it means destroying harmony in the family, even if it means a death sentence.  His Father’s reputation is at stake, and his ministry is to carry a message from heaven to earth.  But that message hasn’t yet been fully delivered, and Yahshua, the messenger, isn’t yet ready to die.  The people talk among themselves about Yahshua, even before the feast begins.  They argue about whether he’s good or bad, but they don’t speak of him too loudly because they know the "Jews" want him dead, and they’re afraid. 

   14. But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private.  About the middle of the feast Yahshua went up into the temple and taught.  15. The Jews marveled at it, saying, "How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?"  16. So Yahshua answered them, "My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me; 17. if any man's will is to do the Almighty’s  will, he shall know whether the teaching is from Yahweh or whether I am speaking on my own authority.  18. He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own esteem; but he who seeks to glorify his sender is true, and in him there is no falsehood. 

   Yahshua is found at the Feast later on.  Did he lie to his brothers?  No, he simply got new orders from his Father.  Or maybe his intentions were none of their business.  Or maybe, if he told them he was going, they might just turn him in!  But as he quietly teaches in some shadowy recess of the Court of Israelites, the Jews acknowledge his wisdom and they clearly hear his message; one of them even acknowledges his divinity, having seen his signs (John 3:2).  Yet generally they still consider him an ignorant hick from Galilee.  Why?  Yahshua was never permitted to attend religion school due to unanswered questions about his conception - was his conception lawful or not(Yahshua may have been considered a child of fornication; if so, it was illegal for him to go to school.  John 8:41.)

   So his learning doesn’t come from the seminary, nor does he dip into a bag of tricks or textbooks, nor does he desire to be a counter-culture icon.  His esteem is directed toward his Father, Yahweh.  Yahshua never proclaimed himself a god, only that he was sent from heaven to point humankind back toward pristine righteousness.  Esteem and truth were to be found beyond the stars.  And he had brought some of that esteem with him.

 19. Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?"  20. The people answered, "You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?"  21. Yahshua answered them, "I did one thing, and you all marvel.  22. Moses gave you circumcision, 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 whole?  24.  Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment."  

    These Jews would use the law to kill, knowing fully that the great commandments is “Thou shalt not kill.”  Yahshua asks them all, “Why will you kill me?”  They counter-accuse: “You’re crazy.  Who wants you dead?”  But many did.  Why?  There are two reasons why “the Jews” wanted to kill Yahshua (found in John 5:18).  One is that Yahshua healed a sick man at the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath.  The Jews objected because they considered this to be illegal work, punishable by death.  Woooh!  What kind of law is that?   (They also objected to Yahshua calling Yahweh his father because, in their minds, he was proclaiming himself, born of fornication, to be equal with Elohim, certainly deserving of death.) 

   Yahshua reasons that if it isn’t illegal to mutilate (circumcise) a child on the Sabbath, it shouldn’t be a crime to heal a man on the same day.  To be so constitutes an incredible contradiction, not in the Law itself, but in the self-serving way it’s interpreted.  Neither circumcision nor healing are significant when it comes to legality.  The fat little judge on Law and Order would throw the whole case out of court.  Yahshua says, “Use some common sense, will you?  Judge rightly!”

   But these corrupt tyrants aren’t interested in sense or wisdom.  The first rule for any tyrant is to destroy all opposition immediately.  The real reason Yahshua must die is that they can’t control Yahshua as he exposes them as the Elohimless children of the devil that they are. 

      25.  Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, "Is not this the man whom they seek to kill?   26.  And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Anointed One?  27.  Yet we know where this man comes from; and when the Anointed One appears, no one will know where he comes from."  28.  Yahshua proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, "So you know me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come on my own accord; he who sent me is true, and him you do not know.   29.  I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me."  30.  So they sought to arrest him; but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. 

   Everyone knew there was a “hit” out on Yahshua.  Why didn’t they just kill him now?  Three reasons:  (1) These devils believed in him, and trembled (1 John 2:18 “Now many antiMessiahs have come; therefore we know that it is the last hour”).  (2) They were afraid to kill a good man in public for fear of their own lives.  (We remember that Yahshua started a riot in Courts of the Nations at the Passover and then claimed that he would destroy the Temple entirely.  Poor people especially thought that turning over the money changers’ tables was a great sign of coming prosperity – John 2:15.)  (3) Yahshua couldn’t be touched anyway – his hour hadn’t yet come.  For again he reminds them all that he’s only the messenger; the one who sends him will not allow his messenger to taste death until the message is read in full. 

31.  Yet many of the people believed in him; they said, "When the Anointed One appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?"  32.  The Pharisees heard the crowd thus muttering about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest him. 

   In Matthew and Luke, Yahshua's identity is revealed slowly, petal-by-petal.  But in John, he’s introduced from the first as having been present “in the beginning (of Creation) with Elohim (the Creator).”  Further, John says, “all things came into being through him.”  But how do you convince anyone of such an unlikely story.  If I told you that, at the world’s inception, I was there creating, you’d think I’d had too much of that redneck’s moonshine.  But if I told you, then I did something very creative, like raise grandma out of the grave, you might pay more attention.  (I can’t do that because the sign behind the church plainly says, “No graves will be opened before first calling.”  Go look and see.)

   Yahshua “posted” seven public signs to show the people of Israel that he was with Elohim, just as he said.  {optional or bulletin: These are the seven signs: 

  1. He changes a hundred fifty gallons of water into wine that people drank in Cana (John 2).

  2. He cures a government official’s dying son at Capernaum (John 4).

  3. He heals a man who’d been an invalid for 38 years in Jerusalem (John 5).  (This is the sign that got him into trouble.) 

  4. He feeds thousands of hungry pilgrims with five barley loaves and two fish (John 6).

  5. He walks on the Sea of Galilee to a boat and calms a storm (John 6).

  6. He cures a man born blind at the pool of Siloam (John 9).

  7. He raises Lazarus from the dead (John 11). }

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When Yahshua tells his disciples in John 14:11, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or believe me for the sake of the works themselves,” he’s speaking of these seven signs.  Yet now, despite his signs, the ayatollahs of ancient Judaism issue the secret arrest warrant.  His greatest sign is especially tailored for these vipers to see, believe, and be saved, yet this sign would only be posted through his death. 

   You see, there’s an eighth sign that they were actually participating in:

(John 3:14,15) “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

These religious leaders themselves fulfilled this eighth sign by not stoning him, which was the prescribed means of execution.  They got him crucified instead, so that he might be lifting up.  How could they miss the sign?  They didn’t.

   The ninth sign Yahshua called “The Sign of Jonah.”  Like Jonah, Yahshua spent three days in the belly, was resurrected from that horrible place, and was found walking the streets of Jerusalem and other great cities,

Matthew 27:52,53.  And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 

What more could he possibly do to convince his evil generation and our evil generation -- than to put up nine signs?  What more?  Well, actually, there are twelve signs altogether; the last three are exclusively for us.  

Skip to 37.  On the last day of the feast, the great day, Yahshua stood up and proclaimed, "If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink.  38.  He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'"   39.  Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Yahshua was not yet glorified. 

   Now here’s the tenth sign – the giving of the Set-apart Spirit.  The Set-apart Spirit is described in detail in Isaiah 11:2, which we read earlier. 

(Would you believe that, just as I was writing this, a church member phoned after seeing a bumper sticker, “Obey Acts 2:38,” and asked what it meant?  "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Yahshua Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Set-apart Spirit.”  The timing of the call was a sign to both of us.  What timing.) 

“The Gift of the Set-apart Spirit” is for all believers to claim, for if we’ve received it, there’s no longer any doubt about the identity or divinity of Yahshua or Yahweh.  This Gift (or Baptism) of the Spirit entails a physical sensation every bit as jarring as a winter dunk in the Jordan River.  You can’t imagine the difference it makes on your life.

    Many claim to be “spirit-filled” – even churches.  But if such is the case, these gifted people would be keeping the commandments of Yahweh and they’d be here (or in some other assembly) whenever the doors open and out working for the Kingdom with like-hearted brothers and sisters whenever the doors are closed.  (People often ask, “What is the sign that someone has the gift of the Spirit?”  My answer: “Look for the signs that they’re not telling the truth.  The signs will give you your answer.”)

 

   There are many references in the Bible and hundreds of books on the subject of “How to Receive the Gift of the Set-apart Spirit” as though receiving was incredibly difficult.  But, in the Methodist way,  it’s quite simple, though it may take time. 

{optional or bulletinized: Here’s how to receive the Baptism in the Set-apart Spirit in five steps.

  1. Sincerely confess your sins to your Father in Heaven and accept his Son as your Savior.
  2. Renounce all evil and all unsavory attachments.  You may fall again, but you may also get back up.
  3. Make up your mind to lead a life that reflects the life of Yahshua as discovered in your Bible.
  4. Commit yourself to forming a relationship with the Father and Son through prayer.  Buy a prayer book if you need to.
  5. Now, ask that your Father in Heaven baptize you in the Set-apart Spirit so that you can live and do better for him.  Keep asking and expecting.  Live as though you were spirit-filled and, eventually, the Set-apart Spirit will gloriously manifest in your heart, and you’ll no longer doubt, because you’ll have received the ninth sign.}

I hope you’ll accept your gift of the Set-apart Spirit.  I can’t give it to you; only Yahweh can do it through his beloved son because a “new creation” is required.  Ask and diligently seek, and you will become the 10th sign.  {pause}

   The rest of chapter 7 speaks about the disputation over whether Yahshua was the Anointed One or not, for some had heeded the signs and would live, others had not and were doomed.   

Skip to 53.  They went each to his own house. 

   They couldn’t make up their minds about Yahshua's identity, so they finally went on home.  That’s what we’ll do very soon.  But I’d like to send four verses from our reading with you so you might make up your mind about your own identity in him:

8b. “I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come." 

10.  But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private.

14.  About the middle of the feast Yahshua went up into the temple and taught. 

37.  On the last day of the feast, the great day, Yahshua stood up and proclaimed ...

   Consider 8b. “I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come."   There’s a natural resistance to the heavenly things because we’re selfish and sinful, and the devil is always waiting to exploit our inborn weaknesses.  Those who avoid dealing with spiritual things while sating themselves on forbidden things say in their hearts, “I am not going to this feast or any other.”  The reasons are many and varied, but you may rest assured that you’re past this stage if you’ve said in your heart, “I am going,” and, behold, you are here.

   Consider 10.  But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private.   Often those who say a tentative ‘yes’ to the wooing of the Set-apart Spirit consider their religion a private affair; and indeed, it is.  They say, “My religion is personal and I won’t talk about it.”  This can be a perfectly natural response of those exploring newfound faith or it can be an atheist’s most ridiculous excuse.  However, the time comes, when the private person is born anew, she may push aside the curtain and receive the light of understanding.  Spiritual progress is essential to the growth of the entire human organism.  To be stuck in the “private” stage could result in never coming to full flower or fruit – or reward.  The “Lord’s Army” is the only armed force in which you may progress all the way from Private to General.

   Consider 14.  About the middle of the feast Yahshua went up into the temple and taught.  Private religionists never get taught.  They only perceive ‘truth’ through the lenses of their own notions.  They don’t have the Yahshua-mind or the Spirit-wisdom so as to spy out the “Mystery of the Faith,” no matter their claim.  Go up to the temple and hear the teacher out –get variations of opinions and interpretations – then be open to change and growth and prayer.  All who sat at Yahshua's feet and learned had far different notions before they came, yet they took interest enough in their own souls to consider the words of life and of death, and to choose life. 

   Finally, consider 37.  On the last day of the feast, the great day, Yahshua stood up and proclaimed ...   Those who take up spiritual disciplines and become active in the faith-life – they are living, standing stones that prove our physical perceptions to be mere illusions.  They experience baptisms of ecstasy and joy in the power of the Set-apart Spirit.  They stand up in their churches and their workplaces, in their communities and families, and they proclaim tidings of good and of Elohim, expose evil and, at the same time, do their best to help and heal and correct.  These are the true spirit-filled.  Wherever they venture, both “the Jews” and “the people” see signs following them.  They strut their stuff, not their stuffing.  Aspire to become a stander and a proclaimer today, this Great Day.  For today is the Last Day of the Feast of Tabernacles (vs. 37) – the Day of Yahweh.  “Who will be able to stand?” 

   The 11th Sign has been a devastating lesson to many.  When, despite all the signs, the viperous Jerusalem religious crowd rejected Yahshua, the whole chaotic religious mess of blood, bones, skin and stones, came tumbling down, barely one generation later, as Yahshua warned them.  The 11th Sign is Destruction.  We’ve seen so much in our lifetimes that it need not be reviewed here; however, it’s our hope that

The strife is o’er, the battle done; the victory of life is won;
The song of triumph has begun.  Alleluia!

   Finally, in the 12th Sign, which Yahshua called “The Sign of the Son of Man,” we’ll recognize easily, and with great trepidation.  In that soon-coming day, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him” (Revelation 1: 7).  On that Great Day of the Feast, some will wail out of despair and hopelessness, having rejected him, remembering how they nailed him to a stake.  But others will wail with tears of joy, blessing and expectancy, for “Behold, he will make us kings and priests unto Yahweh his Father; to him be esteem and dominion for ever and ever” (Revelation 1:6).

The powers of death have done their worst; 
but YAH their legions hath dispersed;

Let shouts of holy joy outburst: Alleluia!

Friends, I’m going to the Set-apart Spirit feast.  Will you join me?  If you will, shout Alleluia!

Jackson Snyder, October 16, 2003