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Synopsis of Paper 162: At the Feast of the Tabernacles

Jesus and the apostles spent October 29 AD in or near Jerusalem. Jesus divided his time between the apostles in Bethany and Abner’s group in Bethlehem. Abner was the leader of John the Baptist’s former followers.

The apostles had asked the Master many times to preach the gospel in Jerusalem, to which he always replied that his hour had not yet come. Now that Jesus was being pursued by the Sanhedrin the apostles pleaded with him not to go into Jerusalem. Jesus responded, "But the hour has come."

People from as far away as Spain and India were gathered in Jerusalem for the feast of the tabernacles. Jesus boldly entered thecity on several occasions to teach publically in the temple.

Jesus's appearances during this feast confused both his followers and his enemies. Abner and his associates had done much to create favorable opinion for Jesus' gospel, so his enemies were afraid to be too outspoken against him. Some members of the Sanhedrin believed in Jesus, and others were adverse to arresting him while so many people were in town. The Sanhedrin also conjectured that Jesus appeared so openly in their midst due to some promise of protection by the Romans. So the Master taught unmolested.

The crowds who listened to Jesus had various opinions: he was the Messiah, a good man, a prophet, a meddler, a madman. Even his enemies marveled at his teachings. One man asked Jesus how he could teach so fluently when he had not been taught by the rabbis. Jesus said that his teaching was not his own, but God’s.

One of the men in the crowd asked Jesus why the rulers sought to kill him. He replied, "The rulers seek to kill me because they resent my teaching about the good news of the kingdom, a gospel that sets men free from the burdensome traditions of a formal religion of ceremonies which these teachers are determined to uphold at any cost... they well know that, if you honestly believe and dare to accept my teaching, their system of traditional religion will be overthrown, forever destroyed." Eber, an officer of the Sanhedrin, was sent to arrest Jesus. As Eber approached, Jesus said, "I know you have been sent to apprehend me, but you should understand that nothing will befall the Son of Man until his hour comes."

Jesus continued to speak about the love of the Father. He proclaimed that he had come that all might have eternal life.When Jesus finished, Eber refused to arrest him. He returned to the Sanhedrin and told his superiors that Jesus was speaking words of mercy, cheering and comforting the downhearted. Eber asked, "What can there be wrong in such teachings even though he may not be the Messiah of the Scriptures?" The Sanhedrin disbanded in confusion.

A man who had known Jesus in childhood conspired with agents of the Sanhedrin to trap Jesus. The man had married a woman, Hildana, and set her up as a prostitute. The husband betrayed his wife to the Sanhedrin's men so they could use her to set a trap for Jesus. The Sanhedrin agents brought Hildana to Jesus saying, "Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now, the law of Moses commands that we should stone such a woman. What do you say should be done with her?" If Jesus upheld the law of Moses, he would be speaking against the Roman authorities. If he forbade the stoning, the Sanhedrin could accuse him of setting himself above Jewish law. If he said nothing, they would accuse him of cowardice. Jesus looked over the crowd, saw the husband, and walked over to where he stood. Jesus wrote a few words in the sand. When the man read them, he quickly left the scene.

The Master then stood before the agents of the Sanhedrin and wrote on the sand again. One by one, these men also went away. Finally, Jesus wrote words in front of the man taken with Hildana, who also took his leave. Jesus said, "Woman, where are your accusers? did no man remain to stone you?" Hildana replied, "No man, Lord." Jesus replied, "I know about you; neither do I condemn you. Go your way in peace." Hildana later became a disciple of the kingdom.

The former apostles of John the Baptist were influenced by the courage Jesus displayed in his public preaching during the feast of the tabernacles, and also by the sympathetic understanding of his private work with them in Bethlehem. During this time, Abner and Jesus consolidated their two groups. Early in November Abner and his group joined Jesus in his work. They labored with the apostles until the crucifixion.

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