A Challenge

John 7: 2-5.

Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand.

His brethren therefore said unto Him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that Thy disciples also may see the works that Thou doest.

For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If Thou do these things, shew Thyself to the world.

For neither did His brethren believe in Him.

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We lived in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood when I was in third and fourth grades. Not all were practicing Jews, but many were. I remember seeing friends of mine who were helping construct what looked like a shack at the back of their house. When I asked, the father told me it was to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, or the Festival of Booths. He said it was to celebrate living in temporary shelters under the leadership of Moses as the people wandered from place to place in the desert. It was to remember, he told me, about God’s leadership and protection. It happened every year in September or October. I thought it looked like fun, and if it rained or snowed, which was entirely possible in Minneapolis, they could go inside. And they also went inside to use the indoor plumbing and to cook. Sometimes they slept outside, though, and they ate out there, too.

This was the upcoming Feast mentioned in verse 2, and a lot of people would be heading to Jerusalem, to the Temple, for part of the time.

At this point, His earthly brothers issued Him a challenge. And by the way, this is a good proof text that Jesus did have flesh and blood siblings, along with John 2:12 and Matt. 12:46-47. Matt. 15:55-56 mentions His sisters, as well.

His brothers were actually daring Him to go down to Jerusalem and do something spectacular there to demonstrate His power. There would be lots more people there, they said, and besides, wouldn’t a real Son of God want to make Himself known, instead of hiding up in Galilee?

There was little love lost between the Jews in Jerusalem and the relatively poor, obscure people of Galilee. The Jerusalem Jews felt that Galilee was so far removed from the action in Jerusalem that they didn’t, couldn’t, understand what was really going on.

Jesus’ brothers wanted to point out to Him that His most amazing miracles were done outside the purview of the Jewish religious authorities. If He were the real thing, wouldn’t He want to convince the hotshots?

I believe that this conversation was done in a sarcastic, challenging manner because, based on v. 5, they still did not believe in Him themselves. It wasn’t that they denied the miracles they witnessed; their stopping point was in accepting Him as the promised Messiah. He was getting way above Himself. It wasn’t until after His death and resurrection that His brothers became an integral part of those early Christians who spread the gospel all over Israel, Asia, and westward.

Why did it take so long for them to understand? Well, put yourself in their place. Would you have believed it if your eldest brother had claimed to be the Messiah? Come on, now, be honest. They were just ordinary folks like you and me. Jesus lived, ate, worked, slept in the same house they did. I’m sure they thought of Him as a goody-two-shoes, and maybe even tried to get Him in trouble now and then. He wouldn’t disobey Mary and Joseph. He wouldn’t lie, cheat, steal, or play nasty tricks on His siblings.

He wouldn’t even snatch an extra chocolate chip cookie when Mary had her back turned.

Still, there was something about Him that, I believe, commanded their grudging respect. It’s just really hard for sinners to live with pure goodness in their midst.