Please read John 7:37 – 8:12
Now on the last day of the festival, Hoshana Rabbah, Yeshua stood and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him keep coming to Me and drink! Whoever puts his trust in Me, as the Scripture says, rivers of living water will flow from his inmost being!”
(Now He said this about the Spirit, whom those who trusted in Him were to receive later — the Spirit had not yet been given, because Yeshua had not yet been glorified.) John 7:37-39 CJB
The seventh (and last) day of the festival of Sukkot is called Hoshana Rabbah, and is considered the final day of the divine judgment in which the fate of the new year is determined. In Jewish tradition it is the day when the verdict that was issued on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is finalised. Some of the sages taught that G‑d told Abraham: “If atonement is not granted to your children on Rosh Hashanah, I will grant it on Yom Kippur; if they do not attain atonement on Yom Kippur, it will be given on Hoshana Rabbah.” This day’s name means “the great hoshanah.” A hoshanah is a series of seven liturgical poems calling upon God to rescue and redeem the Jewish people, primarily by sending rain.
Hoshanah Rabbah was viewed by many rabbis of the time as a mini-Yom Kippur, a day on which the entire Jewish community was judged by God to be worthy or unworthy of the seasonal rains. So it is significant that Yeshua chose this day, when the people were focused on their need of water from heaven, to cry out in the temple: “If anyone is thirsty, let him keep coming to Me and drink! Whoever puts his trust in Me, as the Scripture says, rivers of living water will flow from his inmost being!“
Yeshua, teaching in the temple that had been built by the despotic Herod for his own glory, the temple that was defiled by a corrupt priesthood, used this powerful allusion to God’s pure, lifegiving temple described in Ezekiel 47:1-12. The temple that God gave Ezekiel vision of was not a physical structure built of rocks, but a spiritual structure built of lives connected to the chief cornerstone, Messiah Himself – it was the kingdom of God.
Then the man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar.
Next he brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and there I saw the water trickling out from the south side.
As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and led me through ankle-deep water.
Then he measured off a thousand cubits and led me through knee-deep water.
Again he measured a thousand cubits and led me through waist-deep water.
Once again he measured off a thousand cubits, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough for swimming—a river that could not be crossed on foot.
“Son of man, do you see this?” he asked.
Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived, I saw a great number of trees along both banks of the river.
And he said to me, “This water flows out to the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. Wherever the river flows, there will be swarms of living creatures and a great number of fish, because it flows there and makes the waters fresh; so wherever the river flows, everything will flourish. Fishermen will stand by the shore; from En-gedi to En-eglaim they will spread their nets to catch fish of many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of all kinds will grow. Their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. Each month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will be used for food and their leaves for healing.” Ezekiel 47:1-12 BSB
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22 NASB
Another thing to note in John 7:37-39 is that Yeshua took the blessings of God out of the realm of works – that which was earnt through human effort to produce goodness – and into the realm of grace and faith. His message was not ‘work hard and earn’ but ‘come to Me and receive’. It was a message that addressed human need but gave no place to human pride.
Dispute over whether Yeshua was the Messiah
On hearing His words, some people in the crowd said, “Surely this Man is ‘the prophet’”; others said, “This is the Messiah.”
But others said, “How can the Messiah come from the Galil (Galilee)? Doesn’t the Tanakh (Hebrew scriptures) say that the Messiah is from the seed of David[2 Samuel 7:12] and comes from Beit-Lechem (Bethlehem),[Micah 5:1(2)] the village where David lived?”
So the people were divided because of Him. Some wanted to arrest Him, but no one laid a hand on Him. John 7:40-44 CJB
Some recognised in Yeshua’s words that He is “the prophet” Moses had foretold:
Adonai will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among yourselves, from your own kinsmen. You are to pay attention to Him… … “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their kinsmen. I will put My words in His mouth, and He will tell them everything I order Him. Whoever doesn’t listen to My words, which He will speak in My name, will have to account for himself to Me.” ” Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-19 CJB
Some recognised in Yeshua’s words that He is the Messiah they had been waiting for:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. Jeremiah 23:5
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, [though] thou be little among the thousands of Judah, [yet] out of thee shall he come forth unto me [that is] to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth [have been] from of old, from everlasting. Micah 5:2
And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined. Daniel 9:26
Some, who considered themselves to be learned, looked only to what they knew, and as far as they knew Yeshua came from Galilee, not Bethlehem, so instead of seeking to learn more they closed their minds to what He was saying.
The guards came back to the head cohanim (chief priest) and the P’rushim (Pharisees), who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”
The guards replied, “No one ever spoke the way this man speaks!”
“You mean you’ve been taken in as well?” the P’rushim retorted. “Has any of the authorities trusted him? Or any of the P’rushim? No! True, these ‘am-ha’aretz do, but they know nothing about the Torah, they are under a curse!” John 7:45-49 CJB
Am-ha’aretz: The literal meaning of the phrase is “people (am) of the earth (aretz).” Originally it could mean “the People of Israel.” However, its usual meaning by the time of Yeshua came from the notion of “people who work the land,” i.e., “peasant.” Am ha’aretz were looked down on by the religious establishment in Jerusalem as being “ignoramus, uneducated and boorish”. To these Pharisees, an am ha’aretz, by virtue of his ignorance of their superior ways, was deemed likely to be lax in his observance of the commandments. One common implication of this was that one couldn’t count on an am ha’aretz separating tithes from his produce in the way that the Pharisees deemed appropriate.
There was disagreement among the Pharisees over how to recognise an am ha’aretz. Some of their theories were that an am ha’aretz was:
* one who doesn’t say the Shema with its blessings morning and night;
* one who doesn’t put on tzitzit or tefilin. Tzitzit = eight threads with five knots attached to each corner of a four-cornered garment. A large four-cornered garment is called a Tallit Gadol. A small garment is called a Tallit Katan. The numerical value of Tzitzit is 600 add on 5 knots and 8 threads, makes a total of 613 to serve as a reminder of the covenant between the Jewish people and God and symbolize one’s commitment to obeying all 613 mitzvot that the Jewish sages had derived from God’s commandments. Tefilin (phylacteries) = two black boxes connected to leather straps that are wrapped around the head and arm during morning prayers. These boxes contain 4 passages, referring to the unity of God, God’s capacity to perform miracles and God’s omnipotence in both the physical and spiritual worlds;
* one who has children but doesn’t care to give them a Jewish education.
* even one who learnt Torah and Mishnah, but didn’t frequent Torah scholars, could be considered an am ha’aretz; judging that their knowledge would likely be unreliable if they didn’t spend their time learning face-to-face from a living sage (Talmud Berachot 47b, Sotah 22a).
Sukkot was the festival that most focused on the unity of the Jewish people. That is the whole focus of the “four species”, “the lulav and etrog” that the Jewish people wave in all six directions (north, south, east, west, up and down – symbolizing the fact that HaShem (God) is everywhere around us) sing the Hallel (psalms of praise) and during the Hoshanot (hymns recited every day of Sukkot as they danced in procession), and while singing the refrain hoshanah, “save us.”
Etrog -Shaped like a heart it symbolizes the driving force behind all of our actions.
Lulav – The Lulav comes from a date palm, the fruit has a good taste, but no smell. It symbolizes someone with knowledge of the Torah but no good deeds.
Hadas – The myrtle has a wonderful smell, this symbolizes the good deeds, but not knowledge of the Torah.
Aravah – The willow branch has neither good taste or smell. This symbolizes someone who has neither good deeds or knowledge of the Torah.
Holding these four in a tight bond represents the unity that is HaShem’s goal for the Jewish People (Hashem is a Hebrew term for God, it literally means “the name”). The bond represents the conversion of a set of separate individuals into a People, which is far greater than any individual in both Torah and Good Deeds, and is far more deserving than any individual of the blessings of HaShem.
This message of the intrinsic unity of the Jewish people that was a focus of this festival seems to have been lost on these Pharisees who disparagingly described those who believed in Yeshua as am-ha’aretz who know nothing about the Torah and are under a curse.
Nakdimon, the man who had gone to Yeshua before and was one of them, said to them, “Our Torah doesn’t condemn a man — does it? — until after hearing from him and finding out what he’s doing.”
They replied, “You aren’t from the Galil too, are you? Study the Tanakh, and see for yourself that no prophet comes from the Galil!” John 7:50-52 CJB
Not all of the Pharisees had hardened hearts. Nicodemus appealed to the Torah in his defence of Yeshua. He was shouted down by those who thought they knew what they were talking about. They looked down on the more rural people of Galilee and didn’t realise what they didn’t know – that Yeshua was born in Bethlehem.
After the Festival of Sukkot
Then they all left, each one to his own home. But Yeshua went to the Mount of Olives. John 7:53 – 8:1 CJB
Sukkot finished. Everyone left the temple and, instead of going to their “sukkah”, each returned to their own home, to a solid structure. Many of the pilgrims who had come to Jerusalem for the festival began the long journey back to their homes in the surrounding regions. Yeshua had not finished His Father’s business in Jerusalem, there was still more that needed to be taught to the religious leaders in His nation’s capitol. So he retired to the Mount of Olives for the night. This was the place in which He probably often passed the night when attending the feasts in Jerusalem. The Garden of Gethsemane was on the western side of that mountain, and Bethany, the abode of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, was on its east side.
At daybreak, He appeared again in the Temple Court, where all the people gathered around Him, and He sat down to teach them.
The Woman Caught in Adultery…
The Men Caught Adulterating the Law of God…
Yeshua’s teaching was interrupted. The attention of the crowd suddenly shifted from Him to an unholy commotion as ‘experts’ in the Law pushed through the crowd with their challenge to His authority, confident that now they had what was needed to trap Yeshua in His own words.
The Torah-teachers and the P’rushim brought in a woman who had been caught committing adultery and made her stand in the centre of the group. Then they said to him, “Rabbi, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in our Torah, Moshe commanded that such a woman be stoned to death. What do you say about it?”
Tannaitic sources describe the Great Sanhedrin of Yeshua’s time as a religious assembly of 71 sages who were the ultimate Jewish court and met in the Chamber of Hewn Stones in the Jerusalem Temple. It was led by a president called the nasi (lit. “prince”) and a vice president called the av bet din (lit. “father of the court”). The other 69 Jewish religious leaders (Pharisees and Sadducees) sat in a semicircle facing the leaders.
The Great Sanhedrin dealt with both religious and criminal matters, including trials of adulterous wives (interestingly, contrary to Torah, no mention is made of trials of the men involved in this adultery). They met daily during the daytime, but did not meet on the Sabbath, festivals or festival eves. So it was that on this, the first day after the festival of Sukkot, that they brought this accused woman to the Temple to be judged and sentenced.
They said this to trap Him, so that they might have ground for bringing charges against Him;
The Great Sanhedrin was the final authority on Jewish law and any teacher who went against a decision of the Great Sanhedrin was put to death as a zaken mamre (rebellious elder).
In about 30 C.E., not long before the time of this incident, the Great Sanhedrin lost its authority to inflict capital punishment. This loss, by Roman decree, of the right to execute the death penalty when required by Torah was a matter of great consternation for many on the Sanhedrin. Now they would try to use it to their advantage in getting rid of this unwanted Messiah.
Torah stresses that the judges in ancient Israel were to pursue justice and only justice: “Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 16:20) Those who brought this shamed woman to Yeshua were pursuing something other than justice. They were trying to twist and distort the Torah to suit their own purposes in condemning the Son of God.
Yeshua recognises this performance as a trap, not an attempt at justice. The Torah-teachers and P’rushim were using this woman they had caught in adultery to try to put Yeshua in an impossible situation where He would be condemned by Roman law that had recently prohibited Jews from carrying out capital punishment if He declared the Torah’s punishment for adultery, and He would be condemned by His own people for rejecting the Law of Moses if He did not declare the judgment of death on the woman. This was not about the woman. It was not about the evil of adultery. It was about trying to trap Yeshua.
We need to remember that often other’s attacks against us are not about us at all. Ultimately, everything is about Yeshua. Keep our eyes on Him and see what He will do in the situation.
but Yeshua bent down and began writing in the dust with His finger.
Yeshua’s response was unexpected. He did not dignify their actions with a reply. Instead, He silently stooped down and wrote in the dust on the ground. Dust from which He had created man who now sort to have Him condemned. This was a prophetic act that His detractors, who had memorised and were forever quoting the scriptures, would have recognised all too well. This was a pronouncement of God’s judgment on those who sort to bring charges against Him: “Hope of Isra’el, Adonai! All who abandon you will be ashamed, those who leave you will be inscribed in the dust, because they have abandoned Adonai, the source of living water.” (Jeremiah 17:13 CJB) It was in this very place, on the previous day – Hoshana Rabbah – that Yeshua had described Himself as the “fountain of living water” (John 7:38). Thus, by His writing in the dust, Yeshua was drawing the attention of His audience to the message of Jeremiah. He was declaring that the message of the prophet and His own message were the same: rejection of and disobedience to the Word of Adonai (the Lord) will bring about their demise. Yeshua’s stooping and writing in the dust was declaring that this action of theirs in trying to trap Him was abandoning the hope of Israel, Adonai, and so would result in them being blown away as dust with nothing to hold it in place.
When they kept questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, “The one of you who is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
These Torah-teachers and the P’rushim (Pharisees), men who should have known better, only brought the woman to Yeshua. Men who set themselves up as the ones to teach the people the proper application of the Torah (Law) and to execute judgment according to Torah were flagrantly flouting it. Not only that, but they had established systems within their institutions that twisted and distorted the Law. This is what Torah, that they were claiming to be asking Yeshua to uphold, commands concerning adultery:
The man who commits adultery with another’s wife, even his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
And the man who lies carnally with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of the guilty ones shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon their own heads.
And if a man lies carnally with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death; they have wrought confusion, perversion, and defilement; their blood shall be upon their own heads.
If a man lies with a male as if he were a woman, both men have committed an offense (something perverse, unnatural, abhorrent, and detestable); they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
And if a man takes a wife and her mother, it is wickedness and an outrageous offense; all three shall be burned with fire, both he and they [after being stoned to death], that there be no wickedness among you. . Leviticus 20:10-14 (AMPC)
If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die—the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel.
If a young woman who is a virgin is betrothed to a husband, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry out in the city, and the man because he humbled his neighbour’s wife; so you shall put away the evil from among you.
But if a man finds a betrothed young woman in the countryside, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the young woman; there is in the young woman no sin deserving of death, for just as when a man rises against his neighbour and kills him, even so is this matter. For he found her in the countryside, and the betrothed young woman cried out, but there was no one to save her. Deuteronomy 22:22-27.
Torah focuses first on the man who committed adultery, and declares both adulterer and adulteress must be brought to judgment and put to death. It takes two people to commit an act of adultery, and if the woman was caught in the act the other party to this act must have been there as well. Where was he now? The text does not say, but the very fact that only the woman is charged shows that these religious leaders were not concerned with ensuring obedience to Torah. This all too convenient catching of a woman in the very act of adultery on the first day that Yeshua was teaching in the Temple after Sukkot suggests a set-up. Had they orchestrated the whole thing to try to trap Yeshua? Were they genuine witnesses to her crime, or complicit orchestrators of it?
They persisted in asking Him, still convinced that they had Him trapped. So Yeshua straightened up and stood tall and strong as He pronounced His judgment: “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”. Then He returned to His humble position stooped down writing in the dust.
Torah required a minimum of two witnesses to convict a suspect. The accusing witnesses would state the offense in the presence of the accused and the accused could call witnesses on their own behalf. Now that the Sanhedrin was the body entrusted by Jewish society to judge all serious legal matters, they would question the accused, the accusers and the defence witnesses before announcing their judgment. Yet, by this time the Sanhedrin had dropped all reference to the men who committed adultery and judged only the adulterous married woman. Their whole court system had lost focus on obedience to the fullness of Torah.
Like other great rabbis of His day, Yeshua often quoted a part of a verse, intending His audience to know the rest by heart and bring the entire verse to bear on the subject under discussion. Here, the phrase “be the first to” hearkens back to Moses’ rules for determining guilt. There were to be at least two witnesses to establish fact (Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15). According to the same code, it is these individuals who are to “be the first…to put him to death” (Deuteronomy 17:7). In alluding to this component of the judicial code, Yeshua is requiring that the Law of Moses be fully followed: the witnesses upon whose testimony the woman had been accused of a capital crime must come forward and identify themselves. Such witnesses are not merely subject to cross-examination. They also become subject to all laws pertaining to false witnesses, and the one most applicable at this point in the proceedings comes from the same section of the Law of Moses as the previous passages. “And the judges shall investigate thoroughly; and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you” (Deuteronomy 19:18-19).
His eyes had pierced them as Yeshua stood looking straight through each one and declaring: “The one of you who is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” This was not just a general ‘whoever has never sinned in his life’, for such would preclude any court from ever being able to pass judgment on any wrongdoer, but a specific, ‘the one of you who claims to have witnessed this woman committing adultery and not sinned in providing false or incomplete witness’, ‘the one whose witness is pure and not intended to pervert justice’.
Suddenly the stakes were much higher. By strict adherence to the Law of Moses, Yeshua had placed the responsibility squarely on the accusers to put forward their witnesses or release the accused. As for the witnesses themselves, they knew that if upon cross-examination they were found to be false, they stood to incur the same penalty the accused would have suffered: death by stoning! How many of them know of her guilt because they too had committed adultery with her? Did they dare declare the details of what they had seen and how they knew to look in that place at that time? Did they dare to whitewash their tale to keep the identity of the adulterous man hidden? Would any of them speak up to declare “I witnessed this woman commit adultery“?
They had brought this woman to Yeshua in front of the crowd in hopes that they could incite the crowd to turn against Him in religious fervour, now they began fearing that religious fervour could be turned against them if their plans were exposed.
Yeshua’s word has power. It cuts right to the heart, even of these hard-hearted men. They could not stand against it. One by one, beginning with the eldest and most esteemed, their hearts condemned them and they left until none of this woman’s accusers remained. These men were dressed in the appearance of righteousness, with their large tzitzit and tefilin prominently displayed for all to see. But their outward appearance was not the condition of their heart and Yeshua’s words exposed this. For all their rigorous religious observance they could not stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Then He bent down and wrote in the dust again.
On hearing this, they began to leave, one by one, the older ones first, until He was left alone, with the woman still there.
It was not an overriding of the Law that saved this woman, but a true application of it. Yeshua came to fulfil the Law, not to do away with it. His problem with the religious leaders was not that they focused on keeping the Law, but that they did not keep it in the manner that He, as the author of the Law, had intended it to be kept. They had twisted and perverted Torah and failed to recognise how far they had drifted from its original intent.
Standing up, Yeshua said to her, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, sir.”
Yeshua said, “Neither do I condemn you. Now go, and don’t sin any more.” John 8:2-11 CJB
The woman was left with none to condemn her. With no witnesses remaining to declare her crime, Yeshua would not go against the Law of Moses to condemn her. Yet He knew her heart. He saw her guilt. She had been saved from the death penalty because her accusers had been faulty in the way they presented their accusations, but her guilt remained. Her sin still carried with it the wages of death. She needed to leave that sin behind. So much was carried in that simple statement “now go, and don’t sin any more“. The form of the command implied a ceasing to commit an action already started: ‘Stop your sinful habit’. And the ‘no more’ pointed to the thought of no return. It was a call to repentance, and in that call was the empowerment to leave her sinful ways behind.
1. HELPS Ministries. The Discovery Bible. [Online] https://thediscoverybible.com/.
2. Stern, David H. Complete Jewish Bible (CJB). 1998.
3. Sinclair, Rabbi Julian. Am ha’aretz. The Jewish Chronicle. [Online] October 28th, 2008. https://www.thejc.com/judaism/jewish-words/am-ha-aretz-1.5776.
4. Minim, Arba. The Four Species of Sukkot. Akhlah. [Online] [Cited: May 8th, 2021.] https://www.akhlah.com/jewish-holidays/sukkot/sukkot-four-species/ .
5. Judaica, Shalom House Fine. Talit, Tzitzit, Tefillin – The Winding Path from Mitzvah to Maaseh (deeds). Shalom House. [Online] April 8th, 2019. https://www.shalomhouse.com/blog/talit-tzitzit-tefillin.htm.
6. Dubov, Nissan Dovid. Sefer Torah, Tefillin, Mezuzah, Tzitzit. Chabad. [Online] [Cited: May 22nd, 2021.] https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/2313780/jewish/Sefer-Torah-Tefillin-Mezuzah-Tzitzit.htm.
7. Barnes’, Albert. Notes on the Whole Bible. Bible Commentaries. [Online] Truth According to Scripture. [Cited: May 22nd, 2021.] https://www.truthaccordingtoscripture.com/commentaries/bnb/john-8.php#.YKhxv3nis2w.
8. Nunnally, Wave. Jesus and the Law of Moses: The woman Caught in Adultery. Assemblies of God. [Online] April 28th, 2017. https://news.ag.org/features/jesus-and-the-law-of-moses-the-woman-caught-in-adultery. https://www.holylandsstudies.org/post/jesus-and-the-law-of-moses-the-woman-caught-in-adultery.
9. Dave Miller, Ph.D. The Adulterous Woman. Apologetics Press. [Online] [Cited: May 22nd, 2021.] https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1277.
10. Schoenberg, Shira. Ancient Jewish History: The Sanhedrin. Jewish Virtual Library. [Online] AICE. [Cited: May 23rd, 2021.] https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-sanhedrin.
In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…
*What is the significance of Jesus’ words: “If anyone is thirsty, let him keep coming to Me and drink! Whoever puts his trust in Me, as the Scripture says, rivers of living water will flow from his inmost being!”
* When some people in the crowd said: “Surely this Man is ‘the prophet’“, what were they talking about?
* Some people misjudged Jesus because they assumed He came from Galilee and didn’t know that He was born in Bethlehem. What are some assumptions that people in your area make about Jesus or the church that keep them from coming to know Him?
* The Pharisees called those who believed in Jesus “am ha’aretz” in order to dismiss them as being incapable of knowing truth. What derogatory terms have you heard used to discredit those who believe in Christ and seek to obey His word?
* Part of the Sukkot celebrations involved holding arts of four different types of tree together in tight bond – what did that represent and what application does it have for us?
* What examples of distorted judgment have you seen and how do you think Jesus would address these if they had been brought to Him as the woman caught in adultery was?