Let us consider the death euphemism “the dearly departed”.

“Departed” is a very useful term when speaking about death. The Greek word analyseos, which is rendered in English as “depart” really means “to break camp”. It means to take down your tent and move on to another place.

Consider the Jewish festival of Sukkot. (Sukkah, singular, means “booth” or “tabernacle”. Sukkot is plural). It is celebrated on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, which is around September or October). You’ll find it observed by Jesus in John 7:1-52.

Booths or tabernacles are temporary structures that Jews live in for a week as a remembrance of what they lived in when they traveled for forty years in the desert to reach the Holy Land. The structures are built every year, and intentionally have flimsy walls and a roof you can see the stars through. All meals are eaten inside this structure, and ideally you are to sleep in it at least one night.

This is a very beautiful symbol of our bodies. They are temporary structures that we dwell within. They are fragile, and while able to endure stronger gusts of wind than the sukkah can, they are not permanent and subject to decay. It is a sign of our utter dependence upon God.

Remember that Jesus is said to have “tabernacled” among us”, to have become enfleshed.

When we die, it is really that we have departed. We have left our temporary dwelling behind. We have left for a better place, just like how nomadic people will break camp to follow the herds or to move to where the crops are ripe. Just like how the Jews gave up their tents when they entered the Holy Land.

Death isn’t the end. It is just the end of life as we know it.

The promise of the Spirit

On the final and most important day of the festival of Sukkot, Jesus stood and shouted, “Anyone who is thirsty should come to me and drink! Just like the Scriptures say, anyone who believes in me will have rivers of living water flowing from their very center.”

He was talking about the Holy Spirit, which his believers were going to receive. The Spirit had not been received yet because Jesus hadn’t yet gone to his glory in heaven.

JN 7:37-39

Jesus at the Festival of Sukkot

Jesus secretly went up to Jerusalem to attend the festival of Sukkot after his brothers left. The Jewish authorities were on the lookout for him there, asking “Where is he?” The crowds were actively talking about him. Some thought he was good, while others thought he was leading people astray. However, nobody was openly talking about him because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities.

Halfway through the festival, Jesus began to teach in the Temple complex. The Jewish authorities were astonished and wondered “How can he know the Scriptures when he has never been taught?”

Jesus answered them “What I teach doesn’t come from me, but from the One who sent me. If anyone wants to do the will of God, he’ll know whether what I say is from God or from me. Anyone who presents his own ideas is seeking glory for himself. However, he who seeks to give glory to the One who sent him speaks only the truth and is free from unrighteousness. Moses gave you the Law, yet none of you keep it! Why do you want to put me to death?”

The crowd shouted “You are possessed by a demon! Who wants to put you to death?”

Jesus answered “I did one miracle and you all were stunned. Think about this: Moses taught you the mitzvah of circumcision – not like Moses invented it, because it came from our forefathers – and you perform circumcisions on men on the Sabbath. If a man is circumcised on the Sabbath to uphold the Law of Moses, then why are you angry with me because I healed a man on the Sabbath? Don’t judge based on outward appearances. Instead, judge based on what is righteous.”

JN 7:10-24

The unbelief of Jesus’ brothers

Jesus traveled in Galilee from then on. He didn’t want to travel in Judea because the Jewish authorities were trying to find a way to have him killed. The Jewish festival of Sukkot was approaching.
Jesus’ brothers said “You should leave here and travel to Judea in order that your followers can see the miracles you are doing. Nobody does something privately if he is seeking public acclaim. If you are going to do these works, you should do them so everyone can see.” Not even his brothers believed in his message.

He said “My time isn’t here yet, but yours is always present. There is no reason for the world to hate you, but it hates me because I speak up about it and its evil acts. Go up to the festival by yourselves. I’m not going yet because it isn’t my time.”

He stayed in Galilee after he said this.

JN 7:1-9