Jesus sought respite in Galilee.
It is true that He was a healer and miracle worker and teacher of the Word of God, but He was also a young man who had grown up in a town. He loved Nazareth and by extension Galilee, that northern part of Israel was separated from the politics of Jerusalem in the south by Samaria. Trouble awaited Jesus in Judea and the Feast of Tabernacles called for all true worshipers to attend.
Jesus and His Family
While some hold that Mary and Joseph had no children of their own, this is clearly not the case. By the time of Jesus’ ministry Mary was a widow with a rather large family for whom Jesus was a problem. To all customary expectations, Jesus as eldest son of Mary, should have taken over the family business in Nazareth but this did not happen. He abandoned His family to go off preaching some strange new doctrines.
Luke records an incident in the synagogue at Nazareth where Jesus, fresh from a preaching and healing campaign, was asked to read Scripture. This was a great honor. What did He do? He claimed to be Messiah. These people had known Him all His life. They had done business with Him for years. They had chosen to ignore the rumors of Mary and Joseph having Jesus a little too soon, to accept them into the community. Then He made such a public and ridiculous claim. A riot ensued and they took Him to the brow of a hill to throw Him off. He stared them down and passed through the mob untouched. What were His brothers and sisters supposed to do about such behavior?
The Feast of Tabernacles
Of the three feasts of Old Covenant worship, the Feast of Tabernacles was the largest and served as the finale on the worship calendar. Jesus’ brothers encouraged Him to attend when He preferred to stay in the friendlier region of Galilee.
“…go into Judea… For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.”
Jesus saw through their motives; they wanted to be rid of Him because they did not believe in Him. Imagine how this family division must have hurt Mary. Just as Simeon had predicted all those years before, a “sword” was constantly piercing her heart.
His time had not yet come.
The cynical advice of His brothers cut like a knife into the heart of Jesus. He thought of the prophecies, “We esteemed Him not.” His heart breaking for the family He loved, He tried to explain His dilemma.
“My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.”
Jesus wanted His brothers to go to the feast and be faithful in their worship, even if they had no faith in Him. When the time was right He would attend but the time was not yet right for this. At that moment, Jesus needed rest in a place where He was loved not hated. He needed time with Mary, unhindered by the doubts of the rest of the family. She believed in Him. He stayed for the moment in Galilee.
After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” For even His brothers did not believe in Him. Then Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.” When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee.
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Lord Jesus, for every soul who responded to Your call in faith, it seems many, many more rejected You, including Your own family. Holy Spirit, impress upon my heart today, the pain of that rejection—not strangers in the countryside, not fellow villagers of Nazareth–but Your own brothers and sisters. The Bible says I am called to know You in the fellowship of Your sufferings but this pain is too much for me to imagine. Now I can see why my prayers and acts of worship are so precious to You—Help me be a brother who believes in You! Amen.
I Believe in Jesus
Words and Music: Marc Nelson
1. I believe in Jesus.
I believe He is the Son of God.
I believe He died and rose again.
I believe He paid for us all.
I believe He’s here now,
Standing in our midst,
Here with the power to heal now,
And the grace to forgive.
2. I believe in You, Lord.
I believe You are the Son of God.
I believe You died and rose again.
I believe You paid for us all.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.