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John 7:1-5, NIV
1 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. 2 But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus' brothers said to him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world." 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
May 20, 2011Any religious celebration in Jerusalem would be a good platform for Jesus to show off his superhuman powers. The Jewish people who were scattered far and wide picked their favorite holiday to make their pilgrimage home. In Jerusalem on feast days you could get news from around the world. And news of what was happening in Jerusalem would be taken back with the pilgrims and repeated around the world. The brothers of Jesus were correct. If you want your name to be known, go do your miracles in Jerusalem during one of the festivals. Don't waste time here in the countryside; go to the big city where the action is.
The words we use in conversations--do they tell the whole story? Jesus had brothers who encouraged him to go to Jerusalem so people there could witness his miracles. What purpose did it serve to do his good works in secret? No, go show yourself to the world.
What are we to make of these words of advice? As soon as the Gospel writer recorded them, he added an editorial comment--Jesus' own brothers did not believe in him. From that comment we know we can not take their speech at face value. Motives come into the mix. What did these brothers really mean? Under the surface, what did they think about their elder brother and what did they wish for his future?
Also how is the Gospel writer using the word "believe"? He used it a lot throughout his gospel. One of the major stumbling blocks to belief was that Jesus claimed to have come down from heaven and he expected to return to his Father someday soon. Naturally, the brothers Jesus grew up with would have difficulty with such thinking.
Did they wish Jesus ill? And hope he would fall flat on his face? Maybe they liked him well enough but just wished he would be like any other human being. Certainly the gulf between Jesus and the rest of his family would be widening, and putting a strain on all of them.
More journal entries
June 30, 1983It's not easy to follow the sequence of events in John's Gospel. This episode begins in Galilee and ends in Judea and the city of Jerusalem. The event was the Festival of Tabernacles, which is in the fall of the year following harvest time. Originally this feast lasted one week and served as a reminder of how God cared for their ancestors who lived in tents during their journey from slavery in Egypt to their new home in Canaan. Leviticus 23:39-43 describes it as a celebration with the waving of palm branches and much rejoicing.
The last time John mentioned Jerusalem was in chapter 5 when Jesus healed the lame man at Bethesda. Between Chapters 5 and 6 there's no transition, suddenly Jesus is back in Galilee again.
Now as we begin chapter 7 Jesus is staying in Galilee but thinking about Jerusalem. Jesus' freedom was curtailed by threats on his life. We think of Jesus as being a free spirit, going and doing whatever he wanted within his Father's will. Yet even Jesus was blocked by other people, for a time.
Who were "the Jews", the ones within the religious community who wanted to take the life of Jesus? Was it the Sanhedrin? The Sanhedrin was a court of 70 men and they were based in Jerusalem.
Talk of threats on the life of Jesus begin earlier in John's gospel than in the other three accounts. Jesus had a three year ministry, but I don't know which year we are in right now.
July 1, 1983A religious celebration - the tent festival. An opportunity for recognition - did these brothers of Jesus wish to accompany him and be by his side as he displayed his miraculous powers?Is greatness is a matter of public acclaim? Does the public decide who is great?Is there no such thing as greatness within the confines of obscurity?
True, Jesus needed to go to Jerusalem and do his good works in public, but not for the typical reasons.He was the God-man, the revelation of God to man. His work was to do the will of God and by his living to give witness to his Father in heaven.
So Jesus' brothers were right but they had it all wrong!
July 2, 1983Not even his brothers had any faith in Him. Jesus seemed to have trouble with his family. One of the Gospel writers mentioned that at one point in his ministry, the family of Jesus tried to take him home because he was accused of being mad! Here in this text the brothers say they want him to do his great deeds where people will take notice. Yet John said they had no faith in him, they did not believe Jesus was who he said he was.
Did these brothers harbor feelings of jealousy? That wouldn't be surprising. At the cross as Jesus was dying, he overlooked his brothers when comforting his mother and gave the responsibility to the disciple, John. However in time these brothers did believe and became leaders in the early Church. Then, empowered by the Holy Spirit, they convinced others to have the faith to believe in Jesus! Transformation amazes me. Absolutely no one is beyond God's reach, unless they willfully chose to not let God change them.
It is commonly believed that brother James authored the Epistle of James, and brother Judas was possibly the writer of Jude. Both of these books are in our New Testament.
Although we often think change is so remote, so slow in coming, so unlikely and slight. Yet, is there anything more certain or powerful, than change! God may move so slow, but when God moves--wow!
Thoughts of God being slow reminds me of II Peter 3:9 where it states: The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
January 28, 2002Some of the religious leaders secretly plotting to kill Jesus.Jesus evading those who wanted him dead. The brothers challenging Jesus that if he's so great, why doesn't he go to Jerusalem and prove his worth.
Secrets, stealth, hiding, contentious brothers. And by verse 12 the question, Is Jesus a good man or is he a deceiver? Hardly the kind of things we usually associate with the kingdom of heaven!
The brothers of Jesus thought he wanted to become a "public figure." How wrong they were about that. All Jesus ever wanted was to do the will of the One who sent him. Whether his deeds were done in secret or in front of huge crowds did not matter to him as long as what he did pleased his Father in heaven.