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“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

Like me, I’m sure you’ve heard this expression.  In a lot of ways, it’s true.  You can put salt in oats, but you still can’t make a horse drink.

When it comes to how people connect to Jesus, it’s the same thing.  Jesus can be almost standing in front of people, and they will dismiss Him.  Even in His day—when He was directly in front of them—people missed it. 

Regardless of the presence of Jesus the Messiah right there with them, his family had no desire to drink of the water He offered.  As we continue our journey through the Gospel of John, we read in John 7:1-12

After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.

However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?”

Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.”

Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.  

John 7:1-12
New International Version

There’s something you must know about the Festival of Tabernacles: it was the most popular Jewish annual gathering at the Temple in Jerusalem.  It was one of the three times of the year Jewish men were required to go to the Temple in Jerusalem, with the other two being the Festival of Weeks (also known as “First Fruits”) and Unleavened Bread (also known for “Passover”). 

At the Festival of Tabernacles, the pilgrims and natives would set up tents throughout, and around, the city in cool fall weather.  It was primarily a time of thanksgiving for the harvests of wine, fruit, and olives and was designed to remind them of the mercies and miracles God did for their ancestors during the 40 years of wilderness wanderings before coming into the Promised Land.

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It was a party!

And if a Messianic figure was going to go public, then the Festival of Tabernacles was the best time to do it.  It was a great celebration of national heritage and God’s miraculous power.

Jesus’ brothers knew this as well as anyone.  So they pressed Him to go and announce Himself. Their advice, however, was not based on their belief (verse 5).  It was a “triple-dog dare.”

But Jesus wasn’t going to do things because it fit the first century Jewish timetable.  Jesus sends them on ahead and he does eventually follow, but it’s in secret.

Jesus told his brothers he wasn’t going to festival for their purposes.  Instead, Jesus was resolute to do the will of the Father. 

In these actions of confronting His brothers, Jesus called them to trust in Him as the genuine Messiah.  Jesus didn’t have political aspirations.  What He did was to please the Father and reconcile the world to Himself.  This has been His message.  And the offer was extended again.

How about you?  Do you try to push Jesus to act on your timetable?  Do you “triple dog dare” Him to do something miraculous under the shroud of proving He is God?