In John 5:1, Jesus again heads to Jerusalem for “a feast.” Which feast seems to be debatable. Some contend it is Purlm, but that happens before the Passover and Jesus was in Jerusalem in Chapter 3 for the Passover with Nicodemus. Some contend it is now a year past that point and the Passover has come again. This would shorten the Lord’s ministry by a year. Some contend this is Pentecost. This makes more chronological sense than any other. Others may contend that this is the feast of Tabernacles (Booths). All of these feasts were pilgrim feasts and encourage if not require pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
There is a fifth possibility since the feast is not identified and there is no real concentration on the feast itself in the chapter. The mention of the Sabbath day in 5:9b-16 is specific to healing of the man at Bethesda. The fifth possibility is that the specific feast does not matter. What matters is that Jesus was obeying the Laws of Moses in His ministry. Further, He participated in these events like no other, with compassion on His fellow man, with God’s unmerited grace and with mercy for the downtrodden. What matters is that in the most populated and religious city in all of Judea, Jesus taught people about the Father, demonstrated His love and righteousness. What matters is that Jesus did the things of God, not the things of man.
The fifth possibility? To show that Jesus was the reason and focus of the feast, whichever feast it may be. Jesus affirms His deity in verses 18 through 24, placing himself equal with the Father. He attributes all of His power, healings, teaching and ministry to His Father in Heaven. The first Passover He attended displayed His authority. Now in Jerusalem He validates His deity. He is the Messiah, the Son of God, the reason for “a feast.”
The purpose of this feast then is not to celebrate any one historic event. It is to introduce the future with God and the One in whom we celebrate. The purpose of the eternal feasts is Jesus the Passover lamb, Jesus the Tabernacle, Jesus is Pentecost (the first fruits), Jesus the Trumpet and Day of Atonement. Rest in Jesus, not ceremony and pomp and circumstance.