Jesus keeps doing his thing all around Galilee. He's a bit leery about going down to Judea because he's worried that the religious authorities there will want to kill him. That's probably because they do want to kill him.
It's fall now, around the time when the Jewish people will celebrate the festival of Sukkot.
Jesus's brothers tell him that he should take a trip back to Judea so that everyone can see all the things he can do. After all, if he wants to be famous, he can't go around doing miracles and healing people in secret. If Jesus can do everything he claims, they tell him, he should go out and show the people. Do we sense a bit of sibling rivalry?
Big time. Jesus knows that his brothers don't really believe in him. (You try hearing your mom say, "Why can't you be more like your brother? He's the son of the living God," a thousand times a day and see how you feel.) So Jesus tells them it's not the right time for him to go to Judea.
Then he suggests that maybe if his brothers are so big on spreading the word about him in Judea, they should try going down there. And see how much you like getting executed, he adds under his breath.
Jesus stays in Galilee until his brothers leave for the festival. Smart move.
Oh, but then he secretly follows after them.
At the festival, the religious authorities keep an eye out for Jesus.
The people in Judea keep talking about him, too. Some of them think he's all right; others think he's a liar who's just conning people. But no one wants to speak openly about him because they're afraid of what the religious authorities might do. These guys are scary.
Jesus Teaches in the Temple
During Sukkot, Jesus goes up to the temple and starts to teach. So much for keeping a low profile.
Surprise, surprise, the religious authorities are mad again. After all, Jesus has never been formally taught about Jewish laws and scriptures, so what gives him the right to say these things? Where's his diploma from divinity school?
Jesus tells them he has the authority because what he says comes directly from God. Basically, he studied under a pretty important professor.
He also accuses the religious authorities of trying to get him arrested and killed because of the incident back in Chapter 5 when he healed a man on the Sabbath.
The crowd is shocked by this accusation and the idea that someone is trying to have Jesus killed.
Wait, shocked? Have they been paying any attention?
Jesus then explains that the religious authorities know that killing Jesus would be against Jewish law. They're just bent out of shape because he healed someone on the Sabbath. And because they really love cracking down on hipsters like Jesus.
Showing his mastery of Jewish law, Jesus asks them why, if it is okay to circumcise a baby on the Sabbath, it would be against the law to heal a grown man on the Sabbath? Riddle him that.
When the people hear this exchange, they are stunned. Here is the man the authorities have been looking to have killed and yet they're just standing there tongue-tied. Maybe Jesus really is the Messiah after all.
Then again, he was born in Galilee. That place smells like fish, so they're not impressed.
Jesus tells them that he doesn't really come from Galilee, but from God in heaven. Nice save.
The naysayers in the crowd try to have Jesus arrested right then and there because this is total blasphemy as far as they're concerned. However, no one can touch him because it isn't the right time… yet.
But after hearing this, some people in the crowd start to believe in Jesus. They question the religious authorities and want to know if Jesus could really be the Messiah.
Again, the religious authorities are very threatened by this and try to have the police at the temple arrest Jesus. They never learn, do they?
Jesus explains that he will only be among them a little bit longer. After that, he is going to God. They can try to search for him, but they won't be able to find him. Toughest game of hide and seek ever.
Jesus's enemies obviously don't understand. They wonder if he plans to go into hiding in Greece. Why wouldn't they be able to find him there?
The Living Water
On the last day of Sukkot, Jesus again compares himself to water. Hey, if a metaphor is working, why not keep it going? He tells the crowd that anyone who is thirsty can come to him.
Again, some people in the crowd believe what he says. They think he might be a prophet or the Messiah. They get it.
Other still have their doubts. Would the Messiah really come from Galilee? The Bible says that the Messiah will be a relative of David and be born in Bethlehem, but Jesus was born in Nazareth.
Now we know why Matthew and Luke had to get poor pregnant Mary down to Bethlehem.
So there's a division among the people, but no one does anything just yet.
I'm Rubber and You're from Galilee
The religious authorities get a full report of everything that happened from the temple police force. They are outraged; why didn't the police just arrest Jesus when they had the chance? Arrest first, find probable cause later.
But the police say they were in awe. They had never heard anyone say the things Jesus has said before.
The religious authorities are annoyed because the temple police officers have now fallen under Jesus's deceitful spell. Non-believers are dropping like flies.
But there is one thing they can be glad about: even if the police and crowd have Jesus's back, at least none of them—the educated, religious elite—believe in him.
Irony alert! Enter Nicodemus again from Chapter 3 (who, if you'll remember is one of these religious elites and is sympathetic to Jesus). He tells everyone that it's illegal for them to pass judgment on Jesus without first giving him a trial. A very, very early sixth amendment challenge.
Now the other religious guys start to resemble a bunch of mean girls. "You're not from Galilee, are you?" they ask Nicodemus as they giggle and twirl their hair.