1 After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. 2 Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. 3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. 4 For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For not even his brothers believed in him. 6 Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. 8 You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After saying this, he remained in Galilee.

10 But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. 11 The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” 12 And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” 13 Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him. (John 6:1-14 ESV)


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 Lost, wandering and homeless

1After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. 2 Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. (John 7:1-3)

It seem as though John intentionally points out the events of Jesus’ ministry surrounding religious holidays. The Jewish Feast of Booths is an eight-day holiday/celebration in which God intended to be a reminder that His people were wandering, lost and homeless when they left captivity in Egypt. They wandered and lived in booths or tents for forty years. Sadly, an entire generation of people, who were rescued fro Egypt, died as homeless people in the desert with out experiencing the metaphoric ‘salvation’ of the Promised Land. But God was faithful and His people finally entered the land that was promised; living in homes that were built by others.

Lost family

This text is about unbelief. It’s about people that, at this time, do not express saving faith. It’s about people who, in a spiritual sense, are lost, wandering and homeless. But what hits home for me is that it’s about disbelieving family. From liking a different football team or choosing a different college than your parents to making bad financial decisions, there are a lot of things that can create family turmoil. But being on a different theological page can be one of the most challenging and disheartening family challenges. It’s the topic that either gets completely ignored, in an unhealthy way, or it becomes the source of constant contention and fighting.

Let’s take a look at Jesus and his brothers. John 7:2-5: 2 Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. 3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. 4 For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For not even his brothers believed in him.

We’re talking about James and Joseph and Simon and Judas, the brothers mentioned in Matthew 13:55. They were trying to showcase their brother and put his miracles on display. They wanted him to go to the big city and gain more followers. The crazy thing about this is that they knew him, they even believed in his miracles, but they didn’t believe in him. It wasn’t that they were irreligious or didn’t believe in God, in fact they were trying to get Jesus to go with them to the religious festival. They simply didn’t have saving faith in Jesus. They were so close, yet so far away that John labels them as unbelievers.

Do you have family like that? You’re close in so many ways, but when it comes to the most significant theological concerns you’re miles apart. That’s hard. It’s extremely emotionally burdensome to watch a child or sibling or spouse pursuing a life apart from truly knowing and fully trusting Jesus. What do you do? You want more than anything for them to ‘just get it’. But when you’re in the minority, it’s easier to just go along with their religious or irreligious ways and keep the peace than to make a stand for what you know to be true. You don’t want to hurt your relationships, but you don’t want to compromise your beliefs either.

Love your family, but choosing the Father’s will

So, here are Jesus’ brothers trying to get him to go with them to the big religious festival and make him famous. John 7:6-9:

6 Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” After saying this, he remained in Galilee.

Jesus is saying, the world won’t hate you because you’re thinking in a worldly way. You go along with the majority and I don’t. I have a different point of view and the world will hate me because of that. I can’t, with a clean conscience, go along with you to the feast. You go without me.

It would have been tradition to show up at the feast with your community and family. The journey to Jerusalem was half the adventure. Eventually Jesus went to the feast, but he didn’t go in order to appease his family. He loved his family, he cared for his family, but his focus was choosing the Father’s will. John 7:10-13:

10 But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. 11 The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” 12 And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” 13 Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him.

Jesus went to the feast incognito rather than traveling with his family or entourage. Everyone was texting each other, “Seen Jesus?” “Nope. You?” “Bet he could build his booth by just waving his hand.” Others were texting back, “Smoke and mirrors.” But no one wanted to actually talk out loud about him. Most likely, everyone wanted to see a show. They probably wanted the entertainment of seeing some kind of crazy miracles. They likely wanted Jesus to do what his brothers tried to talk him into doing. But he didn’t appease them.

Jesus’ ambition and sole focus was to do the will of the father. Rather than seeking man’s approval he sought to honor the will of the Father. John 5:30: “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” 

The crowd was full of unbelievers, and even Jesus’ own brothers did not believe in him.

Don’t lose hope

Do you have family or friends who are not believers? Don’t lose hope. John, this gospel’s writer, knew Jesus brothers. Look at Acts 1:4 “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. He knew James, the brother of Jesus who one day penned these words: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…” (James 1:1)  And, “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” (James 2:1) James, this disbelieving brother, would eventually become not only a believer, but also a great church leader and the writer of the book of James. Take heart and don’t give up hope. Keep praying for your unbelieving family members. Don’t ever assume they are too far to be found by Jesus. Maybe someday they’ll believe and become an instrument of grace; serving to advance his kingdom.

Stay the course

Stay the course in your own faith. The lost state of your loved ones can become so burdensome that it can stifle your own sanctification. You can’t change them, so don’t try. Continue loving them, keep sharing the gospel, but remember that you are powerless over their unbelief. As you have placed your own fate in the hands of Jesus, place your loved one’s eternity in his hands. Let him carry the burden of their lost state. He cares more about their eternity than do you. Do your part and let the Holy Spirit do his. Begin focusing on allowing the power of Christ to transform you.

Discover hope

Maybe you find yourself having a belief about Jesus, even believe in his miracles, but your hope does not rest entirely in Jesus. If you’re looking for hope you won’t find it in yourself. You won’t find it in a religious system. You won’t find it in another person. But you can discover it in Jesus. You may be lost and wandering, but aren’t too far.