Today's Gospel in Art - The Jewish feast of Tabernacles drew near

  • Patrick van der Vorst

Judaic rituals in the Old Testament, Anonymous engraving. 18th century © The Library at Wellcome

Judaic rituals in the Old Testament, Anonymous engraving. 18th century © The Library at Wellcome

Gospel of 27th March 2020 - John 7:1-2,10,25-30

Jesus stayed in Galilee; he could not stay in Judaea, because the Jews were out to kill him.

As the Jewish feast of Tabernacles drew near, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went up as well, but quite privately, without drawing attention to himself. Meanwhile some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, 'Isn't this the man they want to kill? And here he is, speaking freely, and they have nothing to say to him! Can it be true the authorities have made up their minds that he is the Christ? Yet we all know where he comes from, but when the Christ appears no one will know where he comes from.'

Then, as Jesus taught in the Temple, he cried out: 'Yes, you know me and you know where I came from. Yet I have not come of myself: no, there is one who sent me and I really come from him, and you do not know him, but I know him because I have come from him and it was he who sent me.' They would have arrested him then, but because his time had not yet come no one laid a hand on him.

Reflection on the Engraving

We are only 10 days away now from Holy Week. In our Gospel readings leading up to Palm Sunday, there is a growing sense of impending danger for Jesus. The intensity of His ministry continues to build. Today Jesus is preaching in Galilee; not in Judea because they were already out to kill Him. Imagine what it would be like knowing that people hate you so much that they are plotting to kill you…

The Feast of Tabernacles which is mentioned lasted for eight days. Around the beginning of autumn, the Jews commemorated the protection God had given the Israelites over the forty years of the Exodus. Because it coincided with the end of the harvest, it was also called the feast of ingathering. Our engraving today shows four major rituals of the Old Testament: clockwise from top-left: In the first scene, the twelve loaves of shewbread are being offered to the Lord (Exodus 25.30); the second depicts the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23.34), which is mentioned in today's reading; the third shows the Temple of Solomon (1 Kings 7-8; 2 Chronicles 3-5); the fourth shows Solomon's huge sacrifice at the aforesaid temple (1 Kings 8.1-5). Jesus was part of all the Jewish traditions and feasts. He came to fulfil all the promises of God in the Old Testament. Scripture, in the Old Testament and New Testament, is all about Jesus Christ, even where there is no explicit mention of Him. There is a fullness of implication in all the Scriptures that points to Christ and is satisfied only when He has come and done his work… culminating in 10 days' time, when the fullness of Scripture is unlocked by the death and resurrection of Jesus…

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Tags: Christian Art Today, Patrick van der Vorst, Tabernacles

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