Jesus at the Great Feast in Jerusalem
- John 7:2-53
SUMMER HAD PASSED, and the cooler days of autumn had come again. On the green hillsides around Jerusalem many booths, or huts made of the branches of trees, stood in groups, sheltering the people who had come to attend the Feast of Tabernacles, held every year at this city. And during the week of the Feast the temple was crowded with visitors from other parts of the land.
On the first day after the feast began groups of people stood together talking about the great Teacher in Galilee, whose miracles had caused much excitement in many places. They wondered whether he would come to Jerusalem and teach them there. Some of them wished he would come, for they enjoyed hearing him teach; others wished he would come because they hated him and wanted to find occasion to put him to death.
By and by Jesus came, and straight into the temple he went, to sit down there and teach the people. His enemies believed this would be a good opportunity to catch him, so they sent men to listen to his words and find some fault, that they might accuse him to the rulers.
But day after day passed by and still Jesus sat in the temple, teaching all who came to him. No one attempted to drive him away, and no one took hold of him to capture him. Many of the Jews who lived in Jerusalem knew how much their leaders hated him, and they wondered why these men did not take him now and shut him up in prison.
They said, “Is this not he whom they seek to kill? But now he speaks boldly and they say nothing to him. Have they come to believe that he is the very Christ?”
But the rulers of the Jews, who were the chief priests in the temple, and the scribes, and the Pharisees, and the Sadducees, did not acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ. They were very jealous of him because he drew the attention of all the people who came to the Feast. They disliked his teaching because he accused them of only pretending to be righteous. And they sent officers to take him.
Even the officers were pleased to hear the teaching of this wonderful man from Galilee. They listened carefully to his words, and they believed that he was not worthy to be punished. So they returned to the rulers without him.
The chief priests and Pharisees were angry when the officers returned alone. They asked, “Why have you not brought him?”
But the officers replied, “Never did a man speak like this man.” And they would not harm him.
The men who sent the officers were excited. They asked, “Are you allowing this man to deceive you as he is deceiving the other people? And have any of our own number of the rulers believed on him?”
Nicodemus, the Pharisee who had come to visit Jesus one night, sat among the angry rulers. He loved Jesus and believed in him. But he was afraid to let the other Pharisees know, for fear they would hate him, too. Now he asked timidly, “Does our law judge any man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?”
His angry friends turned on him and replied, scornfully, “Are you from Galilee? Do you not know that no prophet comes from that country?”
And so saying they dismissed their meeting and went to their homes.
10. Abraham Gets Strange Visitors
IT WAS NOONDAY, and everywhere the sun shone hot upon the plains. But Abraham sat in the cool shade of his tent door, beneath a tree. Presently three strange men drew near. They did not look like other men, and Abraham knew they were from a far country. He hurried to meet them, and, bowing low toward the ground just as he always when greeting a friend or a visitor, he urged them to rest for a while in the cool shade. This they were quite ready to do.
Now we shall see how Abraham entertained his guests. First he merit for water to wash their feet. This was not unusual because people wore sandals in that long-ago time and it was customary for them to remove their sandals and wash their feet whenever they sat down to rest and visit. Next, Abraham told his wife to make ready and bake some barley cakes upon the hearth, while he should prepare some meat, for his guests. Then he ran out to his herd and selected a young calf, which he gave to a servant to dress and cook. When all was ready, he brought the food to his guests, and they ate while he stood under a tree near by. Abraham was glad to serve these strangers because he was kind to every one.
When the meal was ended, the men arose to continue their journey. Abraham walked with them for a little way. By this time he knew they were not like other men, but they were heavenly beings. Two of them were angels. The other one was the Lord. And Abraham felt that he was unworthy to entertain such wonderful visitors. But because he was a good man the Lord loved him.
“Shall I hide from Abraham this thing which I do”? the Lord asked his companions. “I know that he will teach his children to keep my ways and to do right.”
Then, turning toward Abraham the Lord said, “I am going to visit Sodom and Gomorrah to see if these cities are as wicked as they seem, for the cry of their sins has reached me.”
The two men hurried on; but Abraham detained the Lord a while longer, because he wanted to talk to him. He knew the Lord would destroy the cities if he found them to be as wicked as they seemed, and he thought of Lot. Now, we remember that Lot had gone back to live again in Sodom after Abraham and his servants had rescued him and his family from the enemy’s camp. Abraham knew that Lot too might perish if the cities should be destroyed. And he loved Lot. He wished once more to try to save him, so he said, “Will you destroy the righteous persons in the city, will you not spare the lives of all for their sake’?” And the Lord promised to spare Sodom if he could find fifty righteous persons in it.
Abraham feared that there might be less than fifty. And he was troubled for Lot’s safety. So he spoke again. “I know that I am but a common man, made of dust,” said he, “yet I speak to the Lord. If there should be only forty-five righteous persons living in Sodom, will you spare the city ?” And the Lord said he would spare the city for the sake of only forty-five righteous persons.
Still Abraham felt troubled. He feared there might not be even forty-five. So he asked if the city might be spared for the sake of forty. The Lord knew it was Abraham’s love for the people which to plead so earnestly for Sodom, and he promised to spare the city for the sake of forty.
“What,” thought poor, distressed Abraham, “if there should not be even forty righteous persons found in Sodom?” And once more he spoke. “0 Lord, be not angry with me,” he said, “but if there are only thirty righteous persons, will you spare the city for their sakes. And the Lord promised to spare the entire city if only thirty people could be found in it. Abraham continued to plead until he had asked the Lord if he would spare the city if only ten righteous persons were found, and the Lord promised to spare Sodom if he could find only ten. Then the Lord passed on, and Areturnehi