April 27, 2016

Judean Ministry

When His brothers had gone up to the festival (in Jerusalem, Judea), then He also went up, not openly but secretly. – John 7:10 (HCSB)

The cross was roughly six months away. For the past six months Jesus had withdrawn to those areas that would minimize confrontation with the Jewish religious leaders in Judea and Galilee as well as the political leaders like Herod. During this time he continued his ministry and invested heavily in preparing his disciples for what was to come. Soon, however, it would be time to begin the journey to Jerusalem and what would be his final Passover. It was time to carry his MINISTRY TO JUDEA.

The Feast of Tabernacles took place six months before the Passover. Initially Jesus had indicated he would not attend the celebration that marked the end of the harvest, but then chose to go “secretly” (John 7:10). This marks the beginning of the Judean Ministry and reveals Jesus’ strategic resolve to make the journey for which he was born.

John’s record of the Judean Ministry begins with John 7:10 (Festival of Tabernacles) and concludes with John 10:39 with an attempt on Jesus’ life during the Festival of Dedication. The Feast of Dedication commemorated the rededication of the temple in 164 B.C. after Judas Maccabeus had defeated Antiochus Epiphanes and cleansed the temple. It was mid-December when this took place, indicating that the Judean Ministry had lasted three months.

These chapters in John consist primarily of a series of discourses between Jesus and “the Jews” that reveal their growing animosity toward Jesus and his growing challenge to their unbelief. In these four chapters there are eight references to either the plan to kill him or actual attempts to kill him (7:19-20, 25; 8:28, 37, 40, 59; 10:31, 39).

The desire to kill Jesus created some high drama during these three months. Not only where there repeated attempts to seize him, John notes on two occasions that they were not successful because the time was not right (7:30; 8:20) and seems to suggest that Jesus was miraculously “hidden” (8:59) and “eluded their grasp” (10:39). But this, ultimately, was not a drama of political cat and mouse between Jesus and the Jews. It was the cosmic drama between God and Satan himself. Jesus would not allow Satan to control the agenda.

Other than possibly Matthew’s record of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, the only other Gospel writer who provides any coverage of this three-month period was Luke. Luke records some of our favorite stories such as the parable of the Good Samaritan, the parable of the Rich Fool, and Jesus’ teaching on wildflowers.

All the events of this period must be read and understood in the context of the rising conflict between Jesus and the Sanhedrin. For three months Jesus ministered, taught, and preached in such a way as to bring clarity to his Kingdom and distinction from the kingdom of the world. Finally it became necessary for him to leave Judea in another effort to slow the pace of the diabolical plot to kill him. This would be his last time to avoid the conflict. His next trip to Jerusalem would be his last.

Related Articles

For a listing of all of the events recorded for this period, see Judean Ministry Events.

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