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Oh Brother

ATP Blog 45 Oh Brother John 7:1-9

Do you have a brother (or multiple)? Now, can you imagine that you have that one brother who never seems to do anything wrong? Then to top it off, that brother suddenly leaves the family business to be a travel

ing preacher, saying that he is God in the flesh? A few words come to mind: annoying, psychotic, or bizarre. I do wonder how much of what Mary knew about her eldest son was revealed in the home with all their other children. Some of these siblings of Jesus must have been around for the hide-and-seek episode in Jerusalem when he was twelve.

Violent Hate ‘After these things (feeding of the 5000 and teaching on bread of life), Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him.’ The Jews John is talking about here are the religious leaders. They could only put up with Jesus equating Himself with God so many times. He was not the Messiah they were hoping for, or expecting (forgot to read Isaiah 53 I guess). They knew that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem, yet they had no interest in going to see when the wise men arrived. Now they were seeking any excuse to have Him killed. Jesus, knowing that the time for this had not yet come (assuming that the time for that would come), He stayed up in Galilee when it was traditional to go to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. This was a fall feast of rejoicing over the harvest, where the Jews would travel to the Temple and make ‘tabernacles’ or booths (a temporary shelter, not a tent) to live in for the week.

Confused Hate ‘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.’’ Do you sense the sarcasm? It would seem that Jesus’ disciples did go to Jerusalem for this feast, but Jesus determined to keep quiet and stay in Galilee. ‘My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.’ says Jesus to them (v6). Verse five makes it clear that Jesus’ brothers were saying this because they did not believe in Him; that is, they did not believe in His divinity or His mission. On another occasion (Matthew 12:46), His mother and brothers came to talk to Jesus, seeking to get Him to ‘settle down’ on the crazy talk. Mark’s gospel (chapter 6) tells us that Jesus was rejected in Nazareth, more than any other place. I am guessing that this is because everyone in that town knew Jesus for thirty years as a carpenter, who helped raise his siblings once Joseph died (traditions say Joseph died when Jesus was about 14).

Hiding Hate ‘The world … hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.’ (v7) Here Jesus puts His natural brothers into the grouping He called ‘the world’ because they were not truly living for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Those who live for evil works, hide from the truth, and Jesus is the truth! Therefore, Jesus’ brothers were not seeing what they should (yet! Later, after the resurrection, at least two of them would come to believe.). In a culture that valued family (Isn’t that true of almost every culture?), Jesus taught to value the Family of God more. In fact, He insulted His natural family , saying, ‘Who is My mother and My brothers? Whoever does the will of My Father in Heaven is My brother, and sister, and mother.’ (Matthew 12:48-50). Later they would understand, but for now this was utter craziness to them! (Evidence that He did care: He made sure someone would look after His mother while He was on the cross, and His bro Jimmy became head of the church in Jerusalem, writing the book of James we find in our New Testament).

Timing ‘You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.’ (v8) Jesus followed the prompting of the Holy Spirit, according to the instructions of the Father (shouldn’t we also?), and kept quiet for the time being. You would think that He should explain Himself to them, instead of further angering them. According to human wisdom, Jesus should have tried to win over His brothers first, before these rugged fishermen He picked. God’s ways are better than ours; He knew what it would take to make disciples that would last, learn, grow, and spread the gospel. God also knew what it would take to convince these natural siblings of Jesus. Can we not trust God and His ways, even when they are so different than ours? There are times to explain our decisions as we follow the Holy Spirit, to avoid angering others (and live at peace as we are called to), but there are also times when we walk away, and let God deal with the situation His way. You will not convince an angry person of the truth.

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