But when His brethren were gone up, then went He also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.
Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, Where is He?
And there was much murmuring among the people concerning Him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but He deceiveth the people.
Howbeit no man spake openly of Him for fear of the Jews.
There are some who like to point to this passage as proof that Jesus was not sinless; He lied to His brothers by telling them that He would not go with them to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. In fact, He went in secret some time after they had left!
There was no lying here. His brothers wanted Him to go in a crowd of others, making a big to-do along the way and perhaps performing some great miracle in Jerusalem. Jesus knew that the Jewish leaders would be looking for Him, perhaps planning to arrest Him. It wasn’t time for that yet. He would go, but in His own time and His own way. I wonder if, later, His brothers realized that His going privately instead of with them may have saved them from some trouble themselves.
Jerusalem was literally buzzing with talk about Jesus. “He’s a good man!” “No! He deceives the people! He’s claiming to be God! Heresy!”
They were there to celebrate the shelters their forefathers had built in the wilderness, and God’s providential care for them. Instead, their attention was on this Man from Galilee Who was creating such a stir with His miracles, and with His astonishing claim of being Messiah, Son of God, Bread of Life, Living Water!
Some people may have tried to dig into His birth, life, parentage; there must be something they could find that would discredit Him. People want to know, and they love to gossip without any real knowledge of the facts. No wonder Jesus went privately, avoiding being caught up in the maelstrom of gossip and rumor.
They did all this gossip in whispers, though. They didn’t want to be caught talking about Jesus. They could end up in hot water themselves, and that would never do.