Ridicule by Jesus’ half brothers

After this, that is, after Jesus’ “hard teaching” in the synagogue in Capernaum (review the insight posted on John 6:60-71), those closest to Jesus in human terms, his brothers, give him some advice: leave. Jesus has a few words for them and ignores their advice.
John 7:1-9

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One Reply to “Ridicule by Jesus’ half brothers”

  1. As we begin this passage, it strikes me that John writes that the Jewish leaders in Judea wanted to kill Jesus, not discourage or discount his preaching, they wanted to kill him. There have been many times when I’ve felt ostracized by some group and not at all comfortable being around them, but to suggest they wanted to kill takes this to a whole new dimension. In this chapter and the next, John reminds us of these death threats ten times, often quoting Jesus’ own words. This is the ultimate hostile environment, yet Jesus keeps preaching.

    His brothers have no doubt picked up on this problem. They are still not in the camp of believers, though we are confident that at least James and Jude change their minds after the resurrection. The motivation for their recommendation is completely off base:

    No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret.

    Really brothers? This is how you assess the situation? Did Jesus ever suggest his aim was to become a public figure? I suppose they’re just trying to be practical, they clearly don’t understand who Jesus is or what he is on earth to do. I can sympathize with them, after all, they watched him grow up in their home. Jesus is in his 30’s now, so they have the privilege of knowing him for over 20 years before his public circuit began. Rich Mullins has a great song, Boy Like Me / Man Like You that tries to look into this history. The last words of this song reflect my heart’s greatest desire, the unachievable: “I may just grow up and be like you someday.” Unattainable on earth, but those who believe in Christ, who love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, the true Christ-followers will get to be with Christ someday.

    …[the world] hates me because I testify that its works are evil.

    We can’t expect the world to understand our perspective without explanation. We must be prepared to lovingly provide the reason for our hope in Christ alone–something that takes earnest prayer and is not some elevator speech we memorize. Jesus dismisses his brothers, after all, he is the oldest in their family, even by earthly standards! Jesus tells them he is not going up to “this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” He is not going in the manner his brothers prescribed, rather he is waiting for the right moment to appear and teach (see John 7:14).

    Festival times invite Jews to make the pilgrimage to the temple courts, to be part of the crowd of believers to build each other up and remind themselves of the great works of the Lord. This is a good thing, traditions that build community. This was a time to stop your normal activity and completely focus on God, to hear the stories of our rich faith, our forefathers and God’s amazing redemptive desires. I believe a lot of people really approached the festivals with sincere hearts, with a real desire to remember. It wasn’t just a square to fill or a box to check, they went and worshiped with all their hearts.

    Jesus didn’t go right away, he let the emotions of the conversation subside as his brothers walked away. Infinitely patient, Jesus waits. Always available, Jesus is there for us. Always.

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