Missing the Messiah: John 7:1-13


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As we continue moving through John’s gospel, after John has finished sharing about the crowd Jesus challenged and how almost all of Jesus’ followers left Him, John moves to focusing on Jesus being at home with His brothers and away from His disciples. We don’t have much context for what set the stage for this event, however what John shares in this event is fascinating.

Our passage for this episode comes from John’s gospel, chapter 7, and we will read it from the New American Standard Bible translation. Starting in verse 1, John tells us that:

1 After these things Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. 2 Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was near. 3 Therefore His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. 4 For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” 5 For not even His brothers were believing in Him. 6 So Jesus said to them, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil. 8 Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.” 9 Having said these things to them, He stayed in Galilee.

Pausing reading briefly, I am amazed at this event and at Jesus’ short conversation with His brothers. As I wonder and imagine the details of this scene, I suspect that Jesus’ disciples had already left to go to the feast in Jerusalem, and this is why Jesus was alone with His brothers.

However, the phrase that really jumps off the page at me is a statement Jesus’ brothers tell Him in verse 4: “For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly.” This statement speaks volumes about where the heads and hearts of Jesus’ brothers were. The statement Jesus’ brothers make is completely true, but this statement also entirely misses the direction of Jesus’ life and mission.

When Jesus’ brothers share this statement, it is solid logic: If someone wants to be known and have a following, they won’t hide their lives away. If someone wants to be known by others, they must step into a spotlight, or at least step out in some way. This statement, given in the context of the whole message Jesus’ brothers tell Jesus, lets us know that Jesus’ brothers did not understand Jesus’ mission as the Messiah. In the minds of Jesus’ brothers, the Messiah needed to be very public and the Messiah needed to be focused on attracting followers in order to kick Rome out of the nation.

However, Jesus understands something that His brothers don’t. Jesus understands that fame and popularity are two very bad motivators. What Jesus’ brothers don’t understand is that Jesus is not interested in being known by the world – at least at this point in His ministry. Instead, Jesus is more interested in fulfilling God’s mission for His life, and God’s mission is one that is both incredibly personal, as well as incredibly sacrificial. Jesus’ mission for His life ultimately gives life to those around Him and to those who accept Him.

In contrast, the mission the first century culture had for the messiah was that he would overthrow Rome in their nation, and this mission required lives to be lost in order to succeed. Jesus’ ultimate mission only had one life to be given, and this life was His own.

Because of this, Jesus opts to sit this festival out, because He knows His time has not yet come, and likely because traveling with His disciples or His brothers will draw too much attention onto Himself.

However, after Jesus’ brothers leave for the feast, John continues in verse 10, saying:

10 But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as if, in secret. 11 So the Jews were seeking Him at the feast and were saying, “Where is He?” 12 There was much grumbling among the crowds concerning Him; some were saying, “He is a good man”; others were saying, “No, on the contrary, He leads the people astray.” 13 Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews.

In this passage, Jesus travels to this festival alone, and as anonymously as possible. At the start of the feast, the Jews were actively looking for Him, but they did not find Him. While this feast was happening, people were talking about Jesus and debating among themselves about how important Jesus really was.

At other places within the gospels, Jesus described how He would divide people. This last part of our passage hints at how Jesus divides people. In all this subtle whispering, we see this division take place. One group describes Jesus as a good man, while other people believed Jesus to be leading the people astray.

However, it is interesting from how John describes these whispered debates that neither one of these two groups understands Jesus’ ultimate mission or goal. Instead, the group that believes Jesus to be a good man might not believe much more about Jesus then this.

In an interesting twist, by this point in John’s gospel, Jesus has amassed a huge crowd of followers and pushed them all away. This detail allows this debate to flourish about Jesus because those who believe Jesus to be a good man can focus on all those Jesus has helped and healed, which is a sizable amount, while those who believe Jesus to be leading people astray can focus on the unbelievable claims Jesus made while teaching. Both sides of this debate have different sets of proof, but neither one appears to take any steps towards believing Jesus to be God’s Messiah.

This is the same in our lives today, except that there are now three groups of people. In our world today, there are people who are actively opposed to Jesus and God, and this includes many who simply claim God doesn’t exist and Jesus is not the same person that the Bible describes. Those who believe this line of thinking make up one group.

The second group of people are those who believe Jesus to be a good man and a good teacher, but that history has exaggerated His life and His ministry. Those in this second group know slivers of Jesus’ life and ministry, but they are not open to letting Jesus or God change their lives.

These first two groups are direct descendants of the two groups debating in our passage in John’s gospel.

To contrast these two groups, we have a third group, and this group believes Jesus to be the Messiah, and that Jesus is the way God stepped into history to show His love for us. This third group, which began with Jesus’ disciples shortly after Jesus returned to heaven, changed the first century world. I am a part of this third group, and if you’re not a part of this group yet, consider yourself invited to join. Those who have placed their hope, faith, trust, and belief in Jesus and His sacrifice for us on the cross can begin a new life with God today, and our lives with God extend forward into eternity!

 As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first in your life and choose to place your faith, your hope, your trust, and your belief in Jesus and in what He accomplished for humanity on the cross. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are giving the opportunity of a new life with God, a life that we don’t deserve, but a life that God offers to us as a gift if we are willing to accept it. If you haven’t accepted God’s gift yet, this is a challenge to do so today!

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to personally grow closer to Jesus each and every day. Through personal prayer and study, discover just how much God loves you and how God showed His love for all of us through what Jesus did for us! While some people point to acts of God that sound negative, angry, or hostile, we should filter all the claims through Jesus. Jesus gives us the best picture of God we can know, and because of this, the best place to begin studying is with Jesus!

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or deviate away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year in John – Episode 16: When challenged by His brothers about being known, Jesus pushes back and decides to go to a Jewish festival anonymously instead of publicly with His brothers or His disciples. Discover why this is and why this matters to us living today!

Join the discussion. Share your thoughts on this passage.

Close To Us: Matthew 26:1-5

Focus Passage: Matthew 26:1-5 (NCV)

After Jesus finished saying all these things, he told his followers, “You know that the day after tomorrow is the day of the Passover Feast. On that day the Son of Man will be given to his enemies to be crucified.”

Then the leading priests and the elders had a meeting at the palace of the high priest, named Caiaphas. At the meeting, they planned to set a trap to arrest Jesus and kill him. But they said, “We must not do it during the feast, because the people might cause a riot.”

Read Matthew 26:1-5 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Every so often, a detail that I never noticed before jumps out at me in an unassuming passage. This “conspiracy passage” where the leading priests and elders meet to discuss how to arrest Jesus is no exception.

Depending on the translation used, we find that the high priest lived in a palace. Many translations use this word, while a few simply say home, court, or another similar word. The implication in Matthew’s passage is that the priests (especially the high priest) were getting wealthy off of the people. By living in a luxurious home, the high priest was separating himself from the people with his wealth.

This is not a statement on whether wealth is good or bad. It is more a statement on focus and generosity. As the Jewish nation grew, it would become more prosperous, and as the leader in any area (in this case the spiritual area), the more people you have influence over, the more money would come your way. But as the leader of the spiritual area in culture, the high priest would be a clear representative of God, and living in a palace, separated from the people, is not an accurate representation of God’s character.

Jesus came and changed that. He came to show us that God is not a “distant” God, but that He wants to live with us. God does live in a palace, but He wants us to join Him in it. I’m doubtful if the high priest was all that willing to open their home to anyone/everyone.

The high priest probably was tempted by greed. Greed is an issue for almost all people who live in cultures that have a monetary exchange system. One doesn’t have to have money to be greedy, but when one does have money, the greed is amplified all the more.

Jesus’ presence in culture, and His focus on the people, challenged the priests’ position and the status quo that had placed them on top of both the spiritual and economic ladders. They did not like Jesus’ growing influence, so they plotted against Him.

But even though they plotted Jesus’ death, Jesus still came – and death was at the core of His mission. This is because God does not want to be seen as a distant God, but as a God that reaches out to us, who takes the first step, who wants to restore the broken relationship. This is before we have “done” anything.

God is wealthy. He does live in a palace in heaven. But instead of increasing the distance we would have to travel, He especially wants to be close to us and He bridged the gap that sin caused.

Jesus came and He won.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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Challenging Our Minds: John 7:25-36

Focus Passage: John 7:25-36 (NCV)

25 Then some of the people who lived in Jerusalem said, “This is the man they are trying to kill. 26 But he is teaching where everyone can see and hear him, and no one is trying to stop him. Maybe the leaders have decided he really is the Christ. 27 But we know where this man is from. Yet when the real Christ comes, no one will know where he comes from.”

28 Jesus, teaching in the Temple, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. But I have not come by my own authority. I was sent by the One who is true, whom you don’t know. 29 But I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”

30 When Jesus said this, they tried to seize him. But no one was able to touch him, because it was not yet the right time. 31 But many of the people believed in Jesus. They said, “When the Christ comes, will he do more miracles than this man has done?”

32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering these things about Jesus. So the leading priests and the Pharisees sent some Temple guards to arrest him. 33 Jesus said, “I will be with you a little while longer. Then I will go back to the One who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me. And you cannot come where I am.”

35 Some people said to each other, “Where will this man go so we cannot find him? Will he go to the Greek cities where our people live and teach the Greek people there? 36 What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘You cannot come where I am’?”

Read John 7:25-36 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

In Jesus’ ministry, it seems that He tried to minimize what He did in secret. The gospel of John draws our attention to this during one of the times Jesus was preaching in the temple during a major festival. While Jesus acted like He wasn’t going to go in order to arrive undetected, when He was ready to teach and preach, He made no secret moves.

In John’s gospel, we catch a glimpse of the crowd’s reaction. Some of the people living in Jerusalem who were in the temple when Jesus got up to preach wondered among themselves, “This is the man they are trying to kill. But he is teaching where everyone can see and hear him, and no one is trying to stop him. Maybe the leaders have decided he really is the Christ.” (v. 25-26)

“If the priests and leaders are not actively trying to stop Jesus from talking, might they believe that He is really the Messiah.” This is the essence of their question.

However, it doesn’t stop there. The people continue analyzing what they know: “But we know where this man is from. Yet when the real Christ comes, no one will know where he comes from.” (v. 27)

We can see a tension growing in the minds of those in the crowd. The tension is wondering if Jesus really could be the Messiah.

Jesus speaks into this tension by drawing out the dilemma the people are wrestling with. He says, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. But I have not come by my own authority. I was sent by the One who is true, whom you don’t know. But I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me. . . I will be with you a little while longer. Then I will go back to the One who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me. And you cannot come where I am.” (v. 28-29, 33-34)

Jesus challenges the crowd’s assumption of His origin, and in doing so, He draws their attention to the truth that He came from God the Father. This heightens the tension because some believed this claim made Jesus worthy of death, while others concluded that this made Him even more worthy of their faith and trust.

What Jesus successfully does in this event is get everyone in the crowd of listeners to think about who He truly is. This tells me that Jesus wants us to rationally choose to follow Him. He doesn’t want blind followers simply looking for insurance from God’s Judgment. Jesus wants followers who are choosing Him because they want a relationship with Him and with God the Father who sent Him.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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Flashback Episode — Closed Minds and Simple Faith: Mark 6:45-56


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As we move through our year focusing on Mark’s gospel, let’s jump over one of Jesus’ most famous miracles and focus in on a miracle that happened on a much smaller scale, but a miracle that may have stood out in the minds of the disciples a little more. Part way through Mark, chapter 6, we find Mark sharing the only miracle that all four gospel writers include. This is the miracle of the feeding a crowd of over 5,000 people.

After this miracle has taken place, we jump into our event that we’ll be focusing in on for our time together this episode. This means that our passage for this episode will come from Mark’s gospel (which is no surprise there), chapter 6, and we will read from the God’s Word translation. Starting in verse 45, Mark wraps up the miracle of feeding the 5,000 by telling us:

45 Jesus quickly made his disciples get into a boat and cross to Bethsaida ahead of him while he sent the people away. 46 After saying goodbye to them, he went up a mountain to pray. 47 When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and he was alone on the land.

48 Jesus saw that they were in a lot of trouble as they rowed, because they were going against the wind. Between three and six o’clock in the morning, he came to them. He was walking on the sea. He wanted to pass by them. 49 When they saw him walking on the sea, they thought, “It’s a ghost!” and they began to scream. 50 All of them saw him and were terrified.

Immediately, he said, “Calm down! It’s me. Don’t be afraid!” 51 He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped blowing. The disciples were astounded. 52 (They didn’t understand what had happened with the loaves of bread. Instead, their minds were closed.)

Let’s pause reading here briefly because I want to point out what Mark has just told us. While Mark mentions that the disciples were astounded at Jesus and that the wind stopped blowing at the instant Jesus stepped into the boat with them, Mark also includes an interesting side note. Verse 52 tells us that the disciples didn’t understand what had happened with the loaves of bread because their minds were closed.

As I think about this side-note Mark included in his gospel, part of me wanted this verse to read that the disciples’ minds were closed because God wasn’t ready for them to fully understand the significance of what Jesus had done. However, nothing like this is suggested in this passage or in this context.

Instead, the context is the disciples fighting the storm and Jesus walking to them on the water. At the end of what had occurred that night, it wouldn’t surprise many people that the events of the miraculous feeding of a huge crowd was diminished in the minds of these disciples who were likely very sleep deprived while also making very little progress crossing the lake.

Part of me wonders if the disciples had closed off their own minds to Jesus and to the significance of this earlier miracle because they were simply overwhelmed with what they had just been through.

This detail reminds me of the truth that our current problems will always appear to be bigger than our past problems, and the further in the past a problem is, the less significant it appears. It is the same when we look at something that is far away. It always appears smaller than when we are right next to it. When we have a lot of distance between a problem we once faced and where we are today, that problem will always appear less significant than the challenges in our lives today.

While it is crazy to think about, someone who had been homeless for several months a decade or more ago might be more stressed out tomorrow morning about what they will wear from a closet of clean clothes then about their homelessness, even though their homeless state was significantly more stressful at that time of their lives.

With the disciples, while their stomachs had been satisfied through the miracle of food multiplication, they had moved on to the most immediate challenge and their minds were closed to the significance of this miracle.

If the disciples missed the significance of the miracle where Jesus fed the huge crowd, is it possible we too can miss what God is doing in our lives today?

Are our lives so full of distractions that we miss seeing all the amazing miracles that God is doing in the world around us?

Are our lives so focused on screens that we miss the beauty of creation?

While I cannot answer these questions for you, I can certainly say that God has been challenging me at this point in my life with busyness and intentionally staying connected with Him. I will be the first to say that I probably miss more than I should with regards to what God is doing in the world around me.

However, I know that passages like this and specifically challenges like this help me refocus my life onto Jesus.

Before ending this episode, I want to draw our attention onto what happened after Jesus and the disciples reach the far shore. Picking back up in verse 53, Mark tells us that:

53 They crossed the sea, came to shore at Gennesaret, and anchored there.

54 As soon as they stepped out of the boat, the people recognized Jesus. 55 They ran all over the countryside and began to carry the sick on cots to any place where they heard he was. 56 Whenever he would go into villages, cities, or farms, people would put their sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch the edge of his clothes. Everyone who touched his clothes was made well.

In these few summary verses, I get a clear reminder that even simple faith in Jesus is enough to work miracles in our lives. Those people living in that area had the faith that simply touching Jesus’ clothing would be enough to make them well. This is amazing faith, and it is also simple faith. I see this passage challenging me to step out of the busyness of my life and back into being better connected with God! Perhaps it can be the same sort of challenge for you too!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first in your life and choose to place your hope, faith, trust, and belief in Jesus. Intentionally make time to step out of the busyness we all face and intentionally take the time to rest with God. God promised us regular rest in His daily and weekly cycle for our lives, and following His pattern for our lives is what ultimately works the best for our health and wellbeing.

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to God each and every day. A strong relationship with God will help us face the trials that come into our lives, and a strong relationship with God helps our minds be open to seeing and understanding what He is doing in the world today.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or deviate away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year in Mark – Episode 16: After Jesus walks to the disciples on the water, Mark tells us that the disciples’ minds were closed. Discover some things we can learn from this event and from what happens after Jesus and His disciples arrive at their destination.

Join the discussion on the original episode's page: Click Here.