Lesson 39

The Gospel of John

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

7:1 After these things, Jesus walked in Galilee, for he would not walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him. 7:2 Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was at hand. 7:3 His brothers therefore said to him, "Depart from here, and go into Judea, that your disciples also may see your works which you do. 7:4 For no man does anything in secret, and himself seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, reveal yourself to the world." 7:5 For even his brothers didn't believe in him.

7:6 Jesus therefore said to them, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. 7:7 The world can't hate you, but it hates me, because I testify about it, that its works are evil. 7:8 You go up to the feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, because my time is not yet fulfilled." 7:9 Having said these things to them, he stayed in Galilee.

 Today's Lesson

Chapter 7 begins a division in the life of Jesus as recorded by John. Here the focus of the ministry shifts back again to Jerusalem. Most of the rest of this work is centered around Jerusalem and the feast days. This is a significant departure from the Synoptic Gospels. This section begins with a discussion between Jesus and "his brothers."


Who these brothers are has led to some debate in Christian circles. It has been a matter of dogma in Roman Catholicism that Mary, the mother of Jesus, had no more offspring. The word that is used in this passage can be used to refer to close relatives, though its most natural interpretation would be to immediate family. So, the Roman Church has held that these were close cousins to Jesus, or perhaps sons of an earlier marriage of Joseph. Protestants take the words to mean that these are the sons of Mary and Joseph who were born after Jesus. The interpretation of the passage does not hinge on whichever of these interpretations you might adopt.


The brothers in this passage are goading Jesus to go up to Jerusalem during the Feast of Booths (or as some call it, Tabernacles). We are told that these brothers did not "believe in him." We do not know their motivation for saying these things. Whether they actually wanted Him to go to Jerusalem because they thought harm would come to Him there, or whether they are just being cynical we are not told.


What they do tell Him is that He should go to Jerusalem so that His disciples "may see your works which you do." Jerusalem is the main stage, so to speak. Go, take your work to the big city and see if it plays there.


But, Jesus' answer for this moment is telling. "My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready." The time for sin is always with us. There is always time enough to ignore God's will and do what we would prefer. The world does not rush us or pressure us when we ignore God. Jesus said, "The world can't hate you, but it hates me, because I testify about it, that its works are evil." There is no friction between a man and the world when man surrenders to the flesh. It is only when we listen to God's voice and seek to do His will that our lives come in conflict with the world and the flesh.


Christians do not have to seek out hardship and trials. They come as a natural consequence to who we are. The Spirit of God that is within us is at war with sin in the world around us. We are the battleground in which He wages that war. The world hates us when God is winning that battle. The world loves us when we do not allow the Spirit to work through us.


But, Jesus was the perfect conduit for the will of God. The Son only did what the Father gave Him to accomplish through the Spirit. And so, the world was always in constant and total conflict with what He was trying to accomplish. "The world ... hates me."


We can gauge the level to which God is controlling our lives by the tension between our lives and the lives of all those around us who do not belong to God. How is the world treating you these days? Does it love you, or hate you?


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