When the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles is approaching, Jesus’ brothers — who do not believe He is the Messiah — encourage their brother to go to Judea “so [His] disciples can see [His] works that [He] is doing.” They say to Jesus, “For no one does anything in secret while he’s seeking public recognition. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” (John 7:3-4, HCSB)
Jesus is not seeking public recognition. He stays in Galilee for awhile longer, then goes to Judea “not openly but secretly.” (John 7:10) The Jews are hunting Him; and the people are discussing Him among themselves, quietly out of fear.
When the festival is half over, Jesus goes into the temple complex to publicly teach. The Jews are bewildered and amazed at His knowledge of scriptures “since He hasn’t been trained.” (John 7:15) Jesus openly responds that His teaching “is from the One who sent Me.” (John 7:16) He says He is not speaking for Himself, but for His Father. “The one who speaks for himself seeks his own glory.” (John 7:18) “Stop judging according to outward appearances.” (John 7:24)
The people wonder if Jesus is the Messiah, but continue to do what He tells them not to do. They judge by outward appearances. They say, “But we know where this man is from. When the Messiah comes, nobody will know where He is from.” (John 7:27)
On the last day of the festival, Jesus stands and cries out to the crowd, “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” (John 7:37-38) Some in the crowd recognize the Messiah while others continue to judge by outward appearances. No, they say, “Surely the Messiah doesn’t come from Galilee, does He? Doesn’t the Scripture say that the Messiah comes from David’s offspring and from the town of Bethlehem, where David once lived?” (John 7:41-42)
The temple police are charged by the Pharisees to arrest Jesus, but are intimidated by His authority. “No man ever spoke like this!” (John 7:46) The Pharisees threaten them, “You aren’t from Galilee too, are you? Investigate and you will see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” (John 7:52)
Father God, help us not to judge by outward appearances which are often misleading, even false. Help us to see and accept truth even when it doesn’t match our expectations. In Jesus’ Name, amen.