THE REASON JESUS HID IN EPHRAIM
DURING THE ORIGINAL LENTEN SEASON
Jesus’ first sermon was in a synagogue. He took a text from Isaiah 61, and preached several verses. That first sermon was a textural sermon. Jesus continued preaching on hillsides, from a boat, sitting at a dinner table with publicans, walking through a marketplace, from a garden, at a tomb site, hanging from a cross. Jesus was not limited to standing behind a pulpit, not limited to a congregation of more than 500, and not concerned with formal style nor with the eloquence of wording.
Jesus loved to preach, and taught whether it was two or three in the congregation, or thousands. His sermons are memorable, were often accompanied with signs, wonders, and miracles. Sinners challenged His Words, some slept through His messages, but His sermons should be studied, and with them, we should gain understanding of how to preach a great message.
In the Lenten season, preceding the events we commemorate of passion week, i.e. the sacrifice for our atonement, on the cross by Jesus, and His three day later resurrection in victory over sin and death, there is much for us to consider.
Jesus, in the time preceding those events spent that initial Lenten season alone, separated with His disciples, preaching to that small group about some vital information. If we look in the New Testament, we see in that Lenten season, some of the words of Jesus to His disciples.
Matthew 16:25 shows Jesus preached that whoever wants to save his life shall lose it.
Matthew 16:25 (KJV)
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
This would be a vital lesson that the disciples did not fully realize till after the events of passion week. Jesus was preparing them with this truth though.
Matthew 20:26 shows that Jesus preached whoever wants to be great must be your servant:
Matthew 20:26 (KJV)
But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
Jesus explained to them the ministry of being a servant, ready to minister for others, not ‘lording over’, but in being the servant, sacrificing for others. Jesus would soon illustrate that truth to them.
Matthew 19:24 (KJV)
And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Jesus taught them, in their private time, that it is difficult to enter the kingdom of God, and again the difficulties that He would soon illustrate, would reinforce this truth.
Jesus knew His departure to heaven would take place in about three months, so His sermons there in Ephriam expressed the truth, that the Holy Spirit would soon come, and be their Companion in their ministry times.
The Holy Spirit was to come and do the comforting work that Jesus had been doing. Yet, He would be able to do it for all disciples in the world, and do the convicting of all sin in this world. Jesus preached much about this One to come during the first Lenten season.
Luke 11:13 (KJV)
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
John 16:7-8 (KJV)
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
The disciples probably assumed Jesus was in Ephriam hiding from those seeking to kill Him, but He was there explaining truths to them, to help them in the time of the passion week, and for their own ministry times following those events.
Matthew 16:25 shows Jesus preached that whoever wants to save his life shall lose it:
Matthew 16:25 (KJV)
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
JESUS DEPARTED TO EPHRIAM FOR ALMOST TWO MONTHS, TO HAVE A SAFE PLACE TO PREPARE THE DISCIPLES FOR THE EVENTS OF PASSION WEEK.
Just days prior to the raising of Lazarus, which angered the religious leaders of that day so much, that they put our a warrant and death sentence decision for Jesus, we find Jesus preaching in the Temple, and attempts to stone Him are plotted and attempted.
The First Attempted Stoning
In John chapter 7, we find the plan is attempted, they want to find cause to justify a stoning:
John 7:11-14 (KJV)
Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, Where is He? And there was much murmuring among the people concerning Him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but He deceiveth the people. Howbeit no man spake openly of Him for fear of the Jews. Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.
The devil plots in the minds of the religious leaders of Jerusalem, to have Jesus taken and stoned according to Jewish law. John records what he and the disciples are seeing, just prior to the first Lenten season. They are aware that the life of Jesus, and even of themselves, is now in great jeopardy.
John 7:19-20 (KJV)
Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?
The people of Jerusalem are aware fully that there is a plot to take Jesus, and have Him stoned to death.
John 7:25 (KJV)
Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this He, Whom they seek to kill?
The plot is made, their intent is obvious, but God puts hindrances to their execution of the plot.
John 7:30-32 (KJV)
Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come. And many of the people believed on Him, and said, When Christ cometh, will He do more miracles than these which this Man hath done? The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him.
Even the townspeople of Jerusalem become divided, some wanting to condone the stoning, some against it.
John 7:43-44 (KJV)
So there was a division among the people because of Him. And some of them would have taken Him; but no man laid hands on Him.
This first day of evil intent upon the life of Jesus must have put fear into the disciples. The fear of Peter on the night of the betrayal was several months later than this, but here, earlier, the fear begins to grow in the disciples, for they see the plot unfolding, and the intent of the chief priests spreading amidst the people.
John 7:53 (KJV)
And every man went unto his own house.
John 8:1 (KJV)
Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
The disciples all decide to take the night off, away from Jesus. No one wants to even invite Jesus to their home to sleep. So, Jesus goes off to the mount of Olives, and there in that wooded olive garden, Jesus sleeps alone. The fear and concern for their own lives is evident. Jesus will need to take the disciples off alone, and there teach them, so their faith and knowledge of God’s plan can begin to soak in. As we know happened, even the first Lenten season’s teachings in Ephriam did not fully sink in, till after the resurrection.
WHEN JESUS RETURNED THE NEXT MORNING, THERE WAS A PLOT TO TRY TO GET AN EXCUSE TO STONE HIM.
Jesus went into the Mt of Olives. And early in the morning, He came again to the Temple, and all the people came to Him, and He sat down and taught them. And the scribes and the pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery, and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto Him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, and when they had sat her in the midst. They say unto Him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned, but what sayest Thou? Then they said, Tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down, with His finger, wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not. So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up Himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin, among you, let him cast the first stone.” And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they who heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out, one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last, and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up Himself, and saw none but the woman, He said unto her, Woman, where are those, thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.”
Stoning Jesus was on their minds, and so a woman worthy of being stoned is brought to Him. He is questioned, and they hoped Jesus would fall into their trap, so they could stone Him.
Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned, but what sayest Thou?
A woman, caught in adultery, is brought before the Lord, as He is preaching this sermon. A charge against her is made, and Jesus is challenged for His opinion on what should be done to her.
Leviticus 20:10 (KJV)
And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
The law was plain. Yet, even these accusers were neglectful. If she was ‘caught’ in the act, there had to be a male accomplice. He too was guilty of adultery. Where was he? Perhaps it had been a set up, and one of the accusers was the guilty one.
Perhaps they lured this adulteress, set her up, so they could present her to Jesus, hoping this loving Man would be merciful, and let her live. Perhaps the male accomplice was a friend, and they were merciful to him themselves. Whatever the story, they had neglected to hold the man to the same standard, the same possible punishment, as the woman.
These judgmental ones wanted Jesus to stoop to their level, and help them stone this woman. In the end of this sermon, they attempt to stone Jesus. This is also typical of things that happen in today’s church. If the preacher counsels intercession and mercy, the judgmental ones turn on the preacher.
The bigoted, judgmental ones often will seek vengeance on the preacher, and all the preacher has truly done is be merciful, seek salvation not vengeance, on the sinners that the judgmental ones want to see punished.
Their intent was to find a justifiable reason to stone Jesus:
tempting him, that they might have to accuse him
Had Jesus contradicted Moses, contradicted the law of Leviticus 20:10, He would have been condemned to be a false prophet. They could, at that point, have stoned both Jesus and the woman.
Had Jesus judged the woman to be worthy of death, then Jesus would have been accused to the Romans as taking authority only given to them by their law, and be crucified by them for murder of the woman.
Jesus bowing, pretending not to be paying attention, writing with His finger on the ground, was a tradition of that day of embarrassment. Finally, He speaks to those who were the accusers, and speaks directly to their inner spirit. Their consciences are quickened, resurrected from the deadness of callousness. Convinced of their own sins, knowing that they were as worthy of death as was she, they began to slip away. The eldest went first, probably having the most sins due to their more years.
Since they had continued to ask, Jesus said the sinless ones should first cast a stone. What He had been writing upon the ground must have awakened their consciences. Their sins may have been what Jesus wrote, or the laws that they had broken may have been the text of that handwritten sermon on the ground. Whatever it was, it was a concern for themselves, and they quickly began to leave the scene.
The day preceding this event, was filled with their plotting, their evil plan seeking a way to unfold, but even though they had made some headway in getting some of the townsfolk to agree Jesus should be stoned, they had no excuse that would hold up, with which to do it.
They are scared off now with the words of Jesus here, when they had brought the adulterous woman to Him. Yet, they return shortly, with a vengeance, and attempt to inspire a stoning. This time the victim is not the repentant woman, it is the Lord Jesus Himself. They stir up the crowd, they twist the truthful message of Jesus, and attempt to turn the crowd against Him, as they had tried to turn Jesus against the woman.
The day prior, they had sought to encourage the idea of stoning. The next day, they are back with evil plans to bring about the stoning.
The plan involving the woman ended in their consciences stirring to the realization,, that they were needing mercy themselves. They wanted no mercy, no intercession, for the woman, but they were not willing to let the handwritten sermon of Jesus be testimony against their own sins. Their anger is indescribable. Their blindness to truth, to the mercy of God, to the love of the Lord, keeps them from seeing that their vengeance is revealing of their inner judgmental nature. Instead of humbly seeking the Lord’s forgiveness, as did the woman, they seek to kill Jesus before He reveals what the handwritten sermon on the ground had said about them.
In their first attempt to find excuse to stone Jesus, He stood up, looked directly at the accusers, and challenged them to ‘cast the first stone.’ They could see the handwritten sermon on the ground, they knew in their own consciences that they were guilty of sins too. None of them could claim to be ‘anamartetos’ (G361), the Greek word for ‘sinless’. Humbled, perhaps soon to be stoned themselves, if the handwritten sermon of Jesus is revealed to the crowd, they are unwilling to start the stoning process themselves.
Capital punishment by stoning was lawful in the Jewish law. (Ex. 19:13; Dt. 13:10; 17:5; 22:21). The Jewish method of stoning was to throw the sinner from a 10 foot scaffold, with their hands tied. The witnesses of the sin, did the pushing, and then one of the witnesses would take a large stone and cast it upon the chest of the sinner. Then all the ones present were to throw more stones until the sinner was dead. Often times, in reality, the scaffold was omitted, and the stones were cast without even a witness present to confirm the guilt. Had Jesus picked up a stone and cast it there in the Temple, the crowd likely would have joined in willingly, and sinfully.
Conscience is a true blessing. It is the inner awareness of one’s own sin and wrong doing. These men of judgment, were really having designs to kill Jesus, not just the woman. The woman was only a ploy to try to get Jesus to do or say something that either the Jewish leaders could use to kill Him, or that the Romans could use to condemn Him. The man they failed to bring, who was as guilty as the woman, was probably in the crowd, un-condemned by the judgmental ones, probably due to him being their friend. The writing of Jesus on the ground, the handwritten sermon, was likely stirring their consciences.
The challenge to claim sinlessness, which no honest person can claim, l
ikely stirred their conscience. The hypocrisy that was evident to the whole crowd there was stirring their conscience.
JESUS AGAIN IDENTIFIES HIMSELF, AS THE MESSIAH, THE SON OF GOD.
John 8: 12-14
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
The Pharisees therefore said unto Him, Thou bearest record of Thyself; Thy record is not true. Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of Myself, yet My record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.
At the end of the sermon wherein Jesus identified Himself as the Messiah, there will be another attempt of a stoning of Jesus. The sermon begins and ends with ‘almost’ a stoning. In the middle of those two almost stonings, there is a sermon. This sermon is brash, pointed, and authoritative. Jesus is going to speak with force, knowing that His time is short before the crucifixion.
Jesus had already begun to preach, when interrupted by the antagonists who wanted to trick Him with the ‘woman caught in adultery.’ They had figured He would either have her stoned, and thereby make Himself a murderer in the eyes of the Romans, or be merciful to her, making Him a violator of the law of Leviticus. That interruption of His sermon is over, so now we see in this passage, Jesus begins to speak ‘AGAIN’. He starts over in the sermon already begun before the interruption.
“I am the Light of the world.”
Only Jesus could make such a claim. He was claiming the ability in that role to see sin. The woman’s sin was seen, with repentance and godly sorrow being present. Therefore, Jesus did not condemn her. The accusers sins were seen, and they had no repentance. Jesus was seeing their rebellion, their accusatory and judgmental nature, and their unchanging hatred of Him. Jesus went on to explain, that to follow Him would keep us in the Light, and we would not be condemning of the repentant, but seeing sin as sin.
“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying I am the Light of the world, he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of life.”
The pharisees claimed that Jesus’ words were His own. They were denying that Jesus spoke for God, and had not spoken ‘rhema’ words. This crowd was in ‘darkness’, but by the end of this sermon ‘many’ would ‘believe’ on Him. This many who would come to realize He is the Messiah, the Son of God, and come into the Light, out of darkness, would enrage those who had already wanted to destroy the Lord.
The jealousy of the wicked there, had made them want to kill Jesus. The converts who accepted Jesus as the Messiah would enrage them to greater vengeance. Some converts, and others in total rejection of Jesus were the results of this sermon. The same sermon made believers out of some, made enemies of greater wrath, out of others. The ones who are made believers will ‘follow’ Jesus, and thereby, not be walking in ‘darkness’ any longer For they will have then as their Lord, the ‘Light of life’.
The pharisees therefore spake unto Him, Thou bearest record of Thyself, Thy record is not true.
Jesus answered that His words were not just His own, but were rhema from God. Jesus is speaking, identifying Himself as the Light, as the One with a mission from God, coming to speak the Words from God, and being confirmed by God Who sent Him.
“I am One that bear witness of Myself, and the Father that sent Me beareth witness of Me.”
At Jesus’ water baptism, God spoke out of heaven, confirming that Jesus is His Son, and He was ‘well pleased’ with what Jesus was doing. If Jesus had come, without the witness from God, then they could question His words, but God had confirmed in Word, and the signs following were adequate proof that Jesus is the Messiah, the Light of revelation from God. The signs, wonders, voice of God, and the Scriptures bore witness that Jesus is the Light.
I am One
This is a clear claim from Jesus to be Deity.
1 John 5:7 (KJV)
For there are Three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these Three are One.
John 5:17-40 (KJV)
But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making Himself equal with God. ...For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
This message made them angry, and they desired to kill Him for them. Yet, God restrained their wrath for the sermon was not yet done. Jesus had identified Himself, but next He would identify them.
At the end, they did seek to stone Him, their anger uncontrolled, but they were not able to kill Jesus till the time appointed by God, to fulfill the type of the Passover.
These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as He taught in the Temple; and no man laid hands on Him, for His hour was not yet come.
Jesus knew they were eager to kill Him:
Then said Jesus again unto them, I go My way, and ye shall seek Me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.
These bullies would die in their sins and though they sought Him, it was not to find the Light that He came to bring. They sought Him to stop the Light. They died in sin and in unbelief.
I have many things to say and to judge of you: but He that sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him.
Jesus clearly, again, identifies Himself, as the Messiah, sent with a message from God, speaking the words of God.
When ye have lifted up the Son of man...
Jesus knows and reveals that they would crucify Him, and yet, He would be doing nothing but what God had sent Him to do.
Jesus had full authorization and power from God. He came to do the will of God. He spoke the doctrines from God Who had sent Him.
many believed on Him.
Then answered the Jews, and said unto Him, Say we not well that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour My Father, and ye do dishonour Me. And I seek not Mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that Thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and Thou sayest, If a man keep My saying, he shall never taste of death. Art Thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: Whom makest Thou Thyself? Jesus answered, If I honour Myself, My honour is nothing: it is My Father that honoureth Me; of Whom ye say, that He is your God: Yet ye have not known Him; but I know Him: and if I should say, I know Him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know Him, and keep His saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto Him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at Him: but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
The Jews here accused Jesus of being a Samaritan, a people who were despised by the Jews. They accused Him of having a devil, to be demonic. Yes, they were blasphemous, evil, sinful to the max. Mocking, accusing falsely the Lord Jesus is a horrible sin.
These abusers, inspired by devils, call Jesus to be a ‘Samaritan’. This was their way of calling Jesus a heretic, an idolater, a man self-excommunicated with whom no man should fellowship. To them, that is what a Samaritan was. They said Jesus had a ‘devil’. This is the Greek word, daimonion (G1140), meaning ‘demon’. Far too often, we find saints accused of having a demon. Demons cannot control any saint. They can whisper temptations, share false accusations against others to saints. Yet, a child of God has the Spirit inside, and He does not share space in us with demons. He does not allow demons to make us do anything. We still have free will to choose to sin, or choose to do righteousness. Jesus was not controlled by demons, and those demons who were attacking Him here, were speaking through the ones accusing Him of having demons.
Art Thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest Thou Thyself?
They are here insulting the intelligence of Jesus. They truly did not comprehend that Jesus is the eternal Son, deity, and had been present even in the beginning when He created the earth. Their mocking of Him showed their mental inadequacy.
If I honour Myself, My honour is nothing, it is My Father that honoreth Me
God honored Jesus by working miracles, by protecting Him. The voice from heaven when Jesus was being baptized, confirmed the honor of God upon Jesus. Today, we see many honor themselves. They proclaim to be great and to possess great gifts. None of us possess gifts, we are given them severally, as the Lord desires, and the power is His, not ours. To brag on ourselves makes us very ‘un-Chris-like’.
ye have not known Him; but I know Him: and if I should say, I know Him not, I shall be a liar like unto you
These abusers were lying when they would say that they knew God. Jesus would have to lie, to say that He did not know God. These abusers proved they did not know God, by showing they had not heard nor seen God’s confirmation that Jesus was His Son.
Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?
The eternal Savior, i.e. Jesus, had seen Abraham. So, at this question by the Jewish abusers, Jesus uses one of the names of the Trinity, and claims to be the ‘I AM’.
This is one of the eternal names of the Trinity, proving that They existed before Abraham. The ones accusing and abusing the Lord here, apprehended that He claimed this Divine Name for Himself, thus declaring that He is one of the Trinity.
stones to cast at him
Hearing Jesus claim to be deity, was blasphemy to them, so to fulfill the law, they gathered rocks to stone Him.
Legally, they had a right to stone someone who falsely claimed to be deity. Jesus is the One prophesied to come, as the Son of God, also the descendant of Adam though Abraham, through David.
Jesus “hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them”.
It was not time for Jesus to be killed, and His life was to be given via crucifixion, not via stoning. Their desire to abuse and kill Jesus failed. How could they try to hurt Jesus? Jesus had healed the sick, raised the dead, preached repentance for sins, and done nothing sinful. So, why did they not recognize the prophecies of the Messiah being fulfilled in Jesus?
Jesus was accused to try to make Him appear to be the 'evil' one. The abuser will speak evil of all who are not like them. Jesus was not like them. To all, the abusers tried to portray Jesus as a horrible person. By doing good, by receiving the attention of the people, Jesus had received the attention that they demanded. They had to make up charges, calling Him a Samaritan, a demonically possessed person, all of which is ridiculous.
The first Lenten period, the original one, just prior to the actual events of the passion week, were spent by Jesus and the disciples in Ephriam, where Jesus was keeping the disciples safe, separated from the anger and hatred inspired in the religious leaders of that day, to kill our Lord. Jesus knew that day was near, and He was not afraid. The disciples needed teaching, needed understanding in wisdom, and the time in Ephriam would allow Jesus to explain much to them. We shall look further into what Jesus taught them during that time. Here in John 7 and 8, we see the motivating fear in the disciples building.