Strategic Caution: John 7:1-9

Focus Passage: John 7:1-9 (NASB)

Part way into Jesus’ ministry, John’s gospel records an unusual occasion where Jesus is alone with His brothers, and it appears as though the disciples are not there with Him. While it is possible that the disciples were there, my mind has always assumed that they were not, simply because of a phrase that Jesus’ brothers say.

John tells us that one reason Jesus’ brothers pressured Jesus to go up to Judea for the upcoming festival is so that Jesus’ disciples may see His works. Jesus’ brothers say, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing.” (v. 3)

It wouldn’t make much sense to say this if Jesus’ disciples were walking alongside Jesus and His brothers.

However, John opens this passage by giving us a reason Jesus did not want to travel to Judea. John tells us that, “Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him.” (v. 1)

Seeing these two details so close together makes me wonder if Jesus’ brothers were trying to set Jesus up to turn Him in to the Jewish leaders. When we place these two details next to each other, we can easily see how someone could draw the conclusion that Jesus’ brothers had aligned themselves with the Jewish leaders.

However, Jesus’ brothers simply could have missed the point of Jesus’ ministry and the Messiah He came to be. The common view of the Messiah at that time was that God would send someone who would rally the Jews together and successfully kick the Romans out of their land. If Jesus’ brothers held to this view, their suggestions make sense because Judea would have the greatest number of Jews to rally together for this cause.

But in John’s opening verse, we see an interesting side of Jesus. Jesus has chosen to “retreat” to Galilee, where His ministry began and where His brothers likely lived because it was a safe distance from the Jewish leaders who were looking to kill Him.

So while Jesus’ brothers may have been trying to set Jesus up to turn Him in, or whether they simply misunderstood why Jesus came to planet Earth, Jesus demonstrates strategic caution in this passage, and He ultimately chooses to not travel to Judea with His brothers for the festival. This tells me that sometimes, we focus on making wise, strategic choices rather than overly depending on God to protect us while we blaze forward for 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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