It is good to be together again as we look into the Word of God. The title for the lesson, “His Own Brothers Did Not Believe in Him” and the text is gospel of John chapter seven and the first nine verses. Let’s listen to the Word of God.

     After this Jesus went around in Galilee purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him: You ought to leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples may see the miracles you do.  No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world. For even his own brothers did not believe in him. Therefore Jesus told them: The right time for me has not yet come. For you any time is right. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me, because I testify that what it does is evil.  You go to the feast.  I am not going up to this feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.  Having said this he stayed in Galilee. This is the Word of God.

     Yes, rejection can be rough, especially when our own family, our own friends reject, refuse to believe in us, in you and me. Perhaps you remember the pain of being rejected by a spouse, a boy or girlfriend, a parent, a boss, a dear friend.  Jesus experienced that pain, too, even rude reviling rejection.

     Let’s look now more closely at our study text in John chapter seven and the first nine verses. In verse one it says there: After this Jesus went around in Galilee. According to scholars there is about a six month gap between what is to us the sixth chapter of the gospel of John and the seventh chapter of the gospel of John. The sixth chapter was around the Passover feast, that is April according to our calendar. And yet chapter seven was a the feast of Tabernacles which would be October according to our calendars. The gospel of John, unlike the synoptic gospels—that is Matthew, Mark and Luke—is not a detailed chronology of Christ’s life, but, instead, uniquely a gospel of the good news portraying Christ as the Son of God, as deity, as divine. And so Jesus went around, that is, he walked in Galilee, because primarily during this time, this six or seven month period Jesus was teaching or he taught his 12 apostles, 11 of which were to be his future leaders of his Church.

     We have an application here for us today.  Discipleship training beyond conversion is so very, very important.  And today we have many opportunities. Everyone should take advantage of Sunday school classes and Wednesday night classes and even revivals and gospel meetings and seminars and workshops and, certainly, our own personal home Bible studies to help us to grow, to mature, to develop our understanding and faithfulness in the Scripture by the Holy Spirit and by qualified teachers of the Word which is the will of God.

     In verse one it also reveals that he purposely was staying away from Judea which was the southern region of Palestine. Well, why not Galilee where the Jews were also seeking to take his life? Because in Judea, in Jerusalem, that is the capital, main city, the religious Jews were much stricter, even more bigoted legalists filled with greater self righteous pride and more intolerant of anyone who opposed their views. Judea is where the Sadducees and the Pharisees and the Scribes, the teachers of the law, the priests, the high priest resided almost universally. And almost all of these were convinced that Jesus the Galilean was a false prophet, a false Messiah. Sad to say by application even today in Christendom and even in the Church there are many legalists and liberals, many religionists even in Christendom that reject Jesus’ full eternal divinity, reject his literal, physical resurrection from the dead, reject his literal, physical, tangible second coming to this earth. And yet according to Scripture all of these are precious truths. 

     In verse two it was the Jewish feast of Tabernacles that was near. Now this feast lasted seven days and it was associated with the harvest of grapes and olives in October according to our calendars. In the rural areas people would build or they built make shift booths, sort of lean-tos of light branches and leaves to live in for the week.  Town dwellers would actually put up similar structures on their flat roofs or in their court yards. These booths were for reminder of what took place when they wandered in the wilderness. It was a festive time.  The temple area was illuminated or illumed by large candlesticks that reminded them of the guiding pillar of fire. And each day the priest would carry water from the pool of Siloam and pour it out from a golden vessel, reminding them of the miraculous provision of water from the rock. It was a very popular, jubilant time for the Jews, but a difficult time for Jesus at this particular festival feast of Tabernacles. It marked the beginning of a much more open and militant opposition and rejection toward him. Yet Jesus was in their midst and was and is the Messiah of Israel and of the nations who proclaimed: If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. And he also proclaimed: I am the light of the world, not just of Israel, but the light of the world. And so even today regarding light and water, the invitation is still open in the 21st century as it was in the first century, that all would come to him as personal Savior and Lord.

     In verses three and four it says, in part, that Jesus’ brothers said to him: Go to Judea that your disciples may see the miracles you do and become a public figure. Show yourself to the world. The thrust of this was sneering, sarcastic, jealous ridicule, even mocking. Evidently they resented, the rejected their older brother and his messiahship. Notice they said: Your disciples see the miracles. And, therefore, at this time they did not count themselves as disciples of Jesus according to Matthew chapter 13 and verse 55. It says in part: Aren’t his bothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?  Actually these were his half brothers since Jesus alone was virgin born. And yet these four half brothers later sons of the union of Joseph and Mary according to Scripture, it affirms that Mary did not remain a perpetual virgin. It actually took post resurrection appearances for Jesus’ half brothers to believe in him by sight to see him raise from the dead.

     In John chapter seven and verse five it plainly reveals: For even his own brothers did not believe in him, because Jesus does know and can sympathize with our experiences of ridicule and rejection, even from our own immediate family, because Jesus experienced it himself personally. God knew that this would be the case even many centuries beforehand. Consider Psalm 69 and verse eight that is prefilled in David, but fulfilled in Christ Jesus where it says, quote: I am a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my own mother’s sons, end of quote. And isn’t it interesting that it does not say: To my own father’s sons, but my own mother’s sons? Because Joseph was not Jesus’ natural father.  Jesus was virgin born. And yet it seems incredible, amazing that Jesus’ half brothers who grew up partly with him in the same household did not realize the uniqueness of Jesus. Evidently they had not personally witnessed Jesus’ miracles. Or worse, they believed his power came from the evil one. And jealousy can often blind us to the truth, to the obvious truth. Jesus is unique. 

     Jesus’ brothers were going up to the religious feast yet rejected their own Messiah. Today many involved in religious rituals and routines but do not have a real relationship with Jesus Christ are in the same situation.  Many today, for example, go to Easter or Christmas services, but reject or ignore the Lord the rest of the year, just a ritual without a relationship, sad to say, but very obviously true.  Often times attendance at religious services at Easter and Christmas are the highest and yet the very next Sunday go back to their usual numbers. Even today so often it is hard to convince our own biological family members that they need to receive Jesus as personal Savior and Lord and live for him, make it real. It is often easier to approach people outside of our biological families concerning Jesus. And Jesus understands this. He experienced it himself.

     So what can we do as a practical matter to reach even our own biological family that are unbelievers or are even backslidden, that are not living for the Lord? Well, first, we never give up praying, interceding on their behalf, to receive the Lord as Lord, to receive him personally as Savior.

     Secondly, unbelievers or backsliders need to see our consistent Christ likeness. For example, our consistent worship attendance, We should be part of a local church involved in a local congregation. And, of course, our consistent changed life for Christ and for his Church to be involved in a Bible believing, Christ honoring church. And we need to back up our beliefs with a transformed behavior leading and living holy lives, set apart in our sanctification as a process, as a pattern of our life, living for the Lord.

     Thirdly, sometimes it is better to ask a mature Christian that our family members really respect to be an ambassador for Christ, to reach our loved ones. And, of course, it is the conviction of the Holy Spirit that really moves the heart, the mind, the will of an unbeliever, of someone who needs to repent, of a backslider, whatever the case may be.

     In John chapter seven and verses six and seven it says, in part, that Jesus told them: The right time for me has not yet come. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me. Notice that Jesus did not answer his brothers’ sneer with a sneer, but replied gently and indicated basically, in effect that he was on the father’s, God the father’s time table, not his own time table, not their time table. And so often by application we want to lash out and act independently of God, but the Lord Jesus never did that in an inappropriate unrighteous way.

     Today many, most, really, reject Jesus, reject his Word, which is his will in the Bible, because Jesus exposes our sin. We are sinners. Jesus never explains away, never condones sin. And today few really want a Lord, someone to obey. Rather, most prefer to live their own lives, their own way with freedom, with tolerance, independent of the Lord and to tolerate sin in their lives and tolerance toward others that live sinful lives.


     In verse eight it says in part that the right time has not yet come, meaning here to go publicly openly to the feast.  It was also not the time to go publicly, openly to Judea and especially Jerusalem for his enemies to do what was already determined in advance, prematurely, to do it in advance before the time table of God the Father which had been determined in advance before the foundation of the world.

     And, by application, the right time has not yet come for Jesus to return in the air to catch us up to be his own. It hasn’t happened yet. But it could happen. But it didn’t happen yesterday. Yet the right time for the Father to send his Son, the bridegroom for this bride, the Church to be with him. And so, instead, the Lord’s Church waits and works and worships until he comes for us. 

     Jesus Christ is still controversial. Is he the Son of God or is he just a good man, a good role model, a good teacher? Jesus Christ must be believed on as the Christ, the Son of God, our personal Savior and Lord in his eternal deity. We must receive him or reject him. There is no other choice.

     In Matthew chapter 12 and verse 30 Jesus said: He who is not with me is against me. We cannot be neutral in this matter. Refusal to receive Jesus Christ personally means you reject Christ. 
     I remember many years ago I was at a barber shop a place that often times men love to talk. And it was told there were many of us there, many of us men in the barber shop. It was told that I was a preacher. And so one of the men there trumpeted, announced that at his funeral he didn’t want a preacher, he didn’t want a priest.  He just wanted his coffin stuffed with cigarettes and beer. That is, he utterly rejects a redeemer. He utterly rejects Jesus.  And so many refuse to believe, need to witness the truth. Jesus is the truth. He is the way. He is the life to eternal life. Let us share this with others.


David Johnson is Minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ in Sellersburg, IN.