“After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. Now the Jews’ feast of Tabernacles was at hand. His brothers therefore said to Him, ‘Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.’ For even His brothers did not believe in Him.” John 7:1-5.
“After these things”, meaning after the events in John chapter six, such as the feeding of the five thousand, and walking on water, were as much as three months earlier.
John chapter six began with the words, “Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.” John 6:4; and John chapter 7, begins with, “Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand” John 7:2.
The Passover was held in the spring and Tabernacles took place in the fall; the latter being in September/October by our calendar.
The reason Jesus would stay in Galilee, “…because the Jews sought to kill Him”, is likely the incident given in chapter five where He healed a paralytic and told him to take up his bed and walk, causing the following furor.
“Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.” John 5:18.
Chronologically, the above incident took place as much as a year and a half before the beginning of Chapter 7 here. However, as shown in the other three gospels the Lord did many other things within that time frame.
Jesus did not stay out of Judea due to fear, but because the Jews’ desire to kill Him was so strong that He would have spent more time avoiding death than He would preaching and healing.
He could have evaded death whenever He wanted to, as He had in the past, but to what point?
“Then all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.” Luke 4:28-30.
“Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” John 8:59.
“The Jews answered Him, saying, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.’” John 10:33.
“Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.” John 8:39.
He stayed in Galilee not just to avoid Judea, but also because it was the Father’s timing, as intimated later on when He says, “…My time has not yet fully come.”
Folks might mistakenly think that wandering around a bunch of jerkwater towns in a backward part of Israel is wasted time, when serious progress can be made preaching the gospel in a religious center like Judea.
Yet we often err in thinking that preaching to a big crowd is what makes for success, when it is often the small things that make a difference.
“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-29.
The foolish things, the despised things of the world were in Galilee at the time Christ ministered in those areas.
When the Apostle Paul was first imprisoned it must have been frightening for Christians at the time, yet it was then that he wrote the beloved prison letters; Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, with God no time is wasted.
“Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” John 7:3b-4.
You can perceive a certain sarcasm, even jealousy, in these words, even without the statement, “His brothers did not believe in Him.”
The meaning of “…His brothers did not believe in Him” does not have to mean that they did not believe His claims to some degree, rather it is that they had not accepted Him as their Lord and savior. Doubtless, their perception of Him was as a pious person who was desirous of becoming a religious leader in Israel.
It is possible to be a decent person and have your brethren despise you. The patriarch Joseph is a good example. His father Jacob wrongly favored him over his other brothers, and as you might expect they hated him with a deadly hatred.
“But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.” Genesis 37:4.
Later in the chapter Jacob sent Joseph to check on the welfare of his brothers who were tending sheep in Shechem. Having arrived at Shechem he found that they had moved some twenty miles farther away.
“Now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. Then they said to one another, ‘Look, this dreamer is coming! Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, “Some wild beast has devoured him.” We shall see what will become of his dreams!’” Genesis 37:18-20.
But God was not finished with Joseph yet, nor with his murderous brothers, for all were about to be thrown into the iron crucible of trials.
“So Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh.’ And his brothers listened. Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.” Genesis 37:26-28.
The matter ended around thirty-two years later after the death of Jacob, when Joseph faced his brothers and said this to them.
“Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Genesis 50:19b-20.
David the youngest of eight brothers was also despised. When the Philistines came against Israel, David’s three oldest brothers went up with King Saul’s army where they were met with the challenge of the Philistine giant, Goliath.
At this time Jesse sent his son David with supplies for his sons and to hear news of the battle. When he arrived, he heard of the boasting of Goliath and became incensed at his taunts against the armies of the living God. As he was enquiring about these things, he was confronted by his brother.
“Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, ‘Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.’ And David said, ‘What have I done now? Is there not a cause?’” 1Samuel 17:28-29.
However, this is not the end of the story; David made the following declaration to Goliath.
“…all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” And it was so, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hastened and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. But there was no sword in the hand of David.” 1 Samuel 17:47-50.
So David, who was a youth under 20, not a boy, had been anointed king over Israel by Samuel earlier, 1 Samuel 16:1-13, showed his courage before all of Israel.
In the above cases, Joseph was the next to the youngest and David was the youngest; whereas Jesus was the eldest and should have been held in a position of honor. Why was He not?
Jealousy certainly factors into all of these cases, Joseph, for being loved the most, David, for having been anointed above his brothers, and Jesus, perhaps for His fame.
Just as it was wrong for Jacob to love Joseph more, so it may be that Mary loved her firstborn too much.
Having a perfect son often invites comparison. What if, and I hope not, what if Mary said to one of her other children, “Why are you always getting into trouble? Why can’t you be more like your brother Jesus?”
What if they were all expected to be more like Jesus? Unsaved folks do not want to be like Jesus, they want to be like themselves. Personally I do not blame them!
People have to accept Christ as their savior before you can expect them to want to become Christlike; even then it will take time.
Having a brother like Jesus would drive you absolutely insane; not that He did not love you, show kindness to you, help you with your chores, with your homework, hold you when you hurt yourself, never strike back when you were mean to Him, or tattle on you over petty stuff; basically what He does for those of us who love Him today.
But you could never have a close relationship with Him because He would never condone sin, your sin would separate you.
You could never say, “Hey, we are all going to smoke cigarettes behind the barn, want to come?” or “Man, we got a bottle of whiskey, come on, let’s get loaded!”
Fun, stupid things we all did as kids would have to be done without telling big Brother Jesus.
What if His siblings, knowing that Jesus would not lie, were afraid that their mother would ask Him if they were up to mischief?
Mary was a godly woman, and deserves the benefit of the doubt; however you can see how intimidated the Lord’s brothers may have been by His honesty.
Personally I do not think that the Lord went out of His way to know what they were up to, unless it was serious trouble where one would expect an older brother to step in, nor do I believe He went out of His way to rat them out.
Another incident that occurred a few months earlier, not only shows the brother’s attitude it also displays an important principle that we should remember when we fall into trouble.
When Jesus’ ministry began to gain momentum, He and His disciples found themselves surrounded from morning to night.
“And the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, ‘He is out of His mind.’” Mark 3:20-21.
That His own people were His mother and brothers is shown later; though it is unlikely that His mother went for any reason other than concern.
“Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, ‘Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.’” Mark 3:31-32.
Because the brothers are mentioned before His mother indicates that they were the prime instigators and His mother came along to assure her heart that everything was okay.
The phrase, “He is out of His mind” in verse 21 earlier, is rendered, “He is beside Himself” in the old King James Version, and it means just what it says, “to be out of one’s mind; insane”, as per Thayer’s Lexicon. Now watch this, it is important.
Just as Jesus’ relatives are coming for Him claiming that He is out of His mind; look at the very next verse.
“And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He has Beelzebub,’ and, ‘By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.’” Mark 3:22.
Just as the Lord is making great progress in His ministry and showing people that He is indeed the Christ, Satan begins a counteroffensive in an attempt to nullify His works.
First he incites the Lord’s own family to claim that He is insane, and then the second punch comes when the religious leaders claim that Jesus has a demon; not just any demon, but Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.
Such a battering would be enough from Satan, but to have one’s own family treat you in such a manner would send any Christian reeling. And many have indeed fallen and never recovered.
Satan used the same hackneyed playbook on Jesus that he uses on all of us.
It is a one two punch where there is trouble at work and afterward you go to your spouse and they give you another punch in the stomach; just when you needed their sympathy the most.
I have belabored these points for your sakes, sometimes a trial will come upon you with breathtaking speed, and very often the second punch will come from some unexpected direction.
Watch for this, but not fatalistically, take everything to the Lord in prayer immediately; if you have sinned and know it, confess and forsake that sin.
If you do not know why this is happening inquire of Him, then ask for strength to endure and ask the Lord to deliver you from the trial and any second punch Satan may have coming your way.
When the second punch does happen you will probably find that you are being attacked by a toothless paper tiger in an effort to continue to discourage you.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:1-5.
Though the Lord’s tender heart may have been broken by such vicious allegations of being insane or a demoniac, He never stopped loving them.
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.’ When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee.” John 7:6-9.
As pointed out earlier, what the Lord meant by “My time has not yet fully come”, was that it was not God’s timing for Him to go yet.
His brothers on the other hand could leave at any time, mostly because they were just attending a feast to go through the motions of religion, without real belief.
Interestingly enough, they went without Christ, the very God who gave the feast to Israel 1400 years earlier.
His Brothers Did Not Believe, John 7:1-9 taken from godisrevealed.com posted on 10-25-12, updated on 9-19-17.
In memory of my precious daughter Lanie (8-14-68 to 9-5-17). Till we meet again beyond the shore.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.