Before the Feast: The Unbelief Of Jesus’ Brothers
Jesus is now the focus of speculation. He has been endorsed by John the Baptist and has performed many miracles. But many will not believe. Their reaction is hostility so great that the leaders are already determined to see Jesus killed.
So His brothers said to Him, Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples [there] may also see the works that You do. [This is no place for You.]
John 7:3 (AMP)
Mary bore other children, with Joseph as their natural father (Matt. 13:55-56; Mark 6:1-6); so Jesus would have been their half brother. It seems incredible that His brothers could have lived with Him all those years and not realized the uniqueness of His person.
Certainly, Jesus’ brethren knew that the Jews in Jerusalem were trying to kill Jesus and going back there could mean death for Him. I’m not sure they really wanted Him dead, but it is probable that they were saying this sarcastically, trying to ridicule Jesus’ claim to being the Son of God.
It is amazing that those who were the closest to Jesus didn’t believe on Him. I’m certain that nothing had happened where Jesus ever gave them a reason to feel this way. No doubt Jesus loved them in a greater way than any man had ever loved his brethren. Yet, they were offended and antagonistic toward Jesus.
This proves that not all offenses are real. Sometimes people take offense when none was given. Their offense was rooted in their own pride and selfishness, not in Jesus’ actions.
You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!”
John 7:4 (NLT)
Jesus’ brethren were saying, “If you are really the Christ, then go to Jerusalem and proclaim it at the feast.” They probably didn’t want Jesus to do that and suffer death at the hands of the Jews. But they probably thought that this “put up or shut up” challenge would silence Jesus’ claims.
For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.
John 7:5 (NLT)
Surely they knew about His miracles since everybody else did. Having been in the closest contact with Him, they had the best opportunity to watch Him and test Him; yet they were still unbelievers.
Here were men going up to a religious feast, yet rejecting their own Messiah! How easy it is to follow tradition and miss eternal truth. The publicans and sinners were rejoicing at His message, but His own half brothers were making fun of Him.
Whereupon Jesus said to them, My time (opportunity) has not come yet; but any time is suitable for you and your opportunity is ready any time [is always here].
John 7:6 (AMP)
Jesus not only knew what His Father’s will was, but He knew the timing for accomplishing that will. Many a person has tried to accomplish God’s will in his or her own way and in their own timing and have failed big time.
You have nothing to worry about because the world doesn’t hate you, but it despises Me because I am always exposing the dark evil in its works.
John 7:7 (VOICE)
When you reveal a person’s sin, they get upset. Even though Jesus showed mercy and grace to sinners, He never said that what they were doing wasn’t sin. He just said He loved and accepted sinners. Those who are not willing to admit they are sinners will always be offended at the truth.
These men certainly had the world’s point of view: if you want to get a following, use your opportunities to do something spectacular. Jerusalem would be crowded with pilgrims and this would give Jesus the ideal “platform” to present Himself and win disciples. No doubt the brothers knew that the multitude of disciples had deserted Jesus (John 6:66). This was His opportunity to recoup His losses. Satan had offered a similar suggestion three years before.
Jesus had already turned down the crowd’s offer to make Him King (John 6:15), and He was not about to yield to them in any way. Celebrities might ride to success on the applause of the crowd, but God’s servants know better. By doing miracles during the feast, at the “official city,” Jesus could muster a crowd, reveal Himself as Messiah, and overcome the enemy. The suggestion, of course, came from hearts and minds blinded by unbelief.
This unbelief had been prophesied in Psalm 69:8
You know my brothers and sisters?
They now reject me—they act as if I never existed.
I’m like a stranger to my own family.
It was not the right time for Jesus to show Himself to the world. One day He shall return, and “every eye shall see Him” (Rev. 1:7). We have noticed that our Lord lived on a “divine timetable” that was marked out by the Father (John 2:4; 7:6, 8, 30; 8:20; 12:23; 13:1; 17:1).
Jesus was exercising caution because He knew that the Jewish leaders wanted, to kill Him. Though they were “religious” leaders, they were a part of “the world” that hated Jesus because He exposed their evil works.
By His character and His ministry, He revealed the shallowness and emptiness of their futile religious system; He called the people back to the reality of life in God. History reveals that the “religious system” often persecutes the very prophets of God who are sent to save it!
Go to the Feast yourselves. I am not [yet] going up to the Festival, because My time is not ripe. [My term is not yet completed; it is not time for Me to go.]
John 7:8 (AMP)
Some manuscripts do not have the word yet in John 7:8, but its absence does not alter the thrust of the statement. Jesus was certainly not lying or being evasive; rather, He was exercising sensible caution.
Suppose He told His brothers His plans, and they told somebody else?
Could the information possibly get to the leaders?
“I am going to the feast when the right time comes,” is what He said.
This conversation came to an abrupt end, and Jesus stayed in Galilee until His brothers were gone. Then He, too, went up to Jerusalem. But He traveled in secret to avoid drawing any public attention.
John 7:9-10 (VOICE)
After His family had gone, Jesus went to Jerusalem “under cover,” so as not to call attention to Himself.
In our Lord’s actions, we see a beautiful illustration of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. The Father had a plan for His Son, and nothing could spoil that plan. Jesus did not tempt the Father by rushing to the feast, nor did He lag behind when the proper time had come for Him to attend the feast. It requires spiritual discernment to know God’s timing.