Up to this point, we have discussed several sevens found in the gospel of John. We have talked about the seven “I AM’s,” “Witnesses,” “Signs,” and the seven proofs of Jesus’ divinity. Each group conveys to us important information about Jesus and His true identity. As John said in John 20:30-31, his primary purpose for writing his gospel account of Jesus was to convince us of Jesus and to instill a saving faith within us. Thus, each of these seven’s is meant to teach us something important about Jesus. In today’s article we are going to look at the Seven Feasts mentioned in John’s gospel and hopefully, gain some insights into their purpose.
The first feast is Passover in John 2:23. Jesus is in Jerusalem during Passover and many are beginning to believe in Him, but He hasn’t revealed himself to many people at this time. It is important for us to know that Passover refers all the way back to Ex. 12 and the night when the Lord’s angel passed over the Jews because of the blood of the Lamb. It is also important to connect Passover with John 3 and Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus.
The second feast is Purim in John 5:1, 17. Purim is connected to Queen Esther (Esther 9:20-32) and God’s deliverance of the Jews from their enemies. Even today, Jews celebrate Purim and remember the time when God “worked” to save them from Haman. Jesus’ statement in vs. 17 reveals this powerful truth for us when He says, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
The third feast is Passover in John 6:4. This is the second Passover feast mentioned in John and again connects Jesus with our Passover Lamb and our redemption from sins. This time John emphasizes the unleavened bread of Passover and reminds us that Jesus is our bread, the one capable of providing for our needs. Connect this with Matt. 26:26-29 and 1 Cor. 11:23-25 and we get a clearer picture of our Lamb and the bread that He provides for us.
The fourth feast is Tabernacles or feast of booths in John 7:2. The Feast of Tabernacles commemorated the 40 years that Israel wandered in the wilderness as punishment for their sins. However, the point of celebrating Tabernacles was about reminding Israel that God had kept His promises and brought them safely into the Promised Land.
The fifth feast is The Great Day in John 7:37. In one sense this is still a part of Tabernacles but in another sense, it is not. It was celebrated the day after Tabernacles (Lev. 23:36) as a special and holy assembly of offering food to the Lord. It was considered by Jews to be separate and the most important day of Tabernacles. Hence, the title “The Great Day.”
The sixth feast is Dedication in John 10:22. The Feast of Dedication or literally “rededication” commemorates the Maccabees and the recapturing of the Temple from Antiochus Epiphanies IV. Most modern Jews call this Hanukkah or the festival of lights referring to the time when enough oil to light the Menorah for a day burned for 8 days.
The seventh feast is Passover in John 11:55. This is the third Passover feast mentioned in John’s gospel and reminds us that Jesus’ public ministry lasted 3 years. This event literally marks the end of the seven feasts and the beginning of the last seven days of Jesus life. This is typically called “Passion Week” and shows us that our Passover Lamb is now headed to the cross of Calvary.
Each feast or holiday reminds us that Jesus is the completeness of God’s plan for our redemption. He is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and especially the festivals of God’s people.