1.  After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him.

Notice again that the “Jews” here are the religious leaders, those who truly desired to kill Him.  The Lord wanted to avoid open conflict with them, and so He returned to Galilee, the northern province of Israel, and stayed out of Judea, the southern province.

2.  Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand.

This verse contains a mistranslation of the name of the feast.  The Greek does not read “skene” or tabernacle, but skenopegia, which means “booth-making.”  Thus, this is a reference to the fact that in this feast they were to build booths and live in them like the children of Israel did when they came out of Egypt (Leviticus 23:42-43.)  This is the only reference to this aspect of the feast in the New Testament.  Notice again that this feast, originally given to Israel by the Lord, is called a feast of the Jews because of the way they had corrupted it.

3.  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.

This is not “brothers” like we commonly use of fellow-believers, but rather is speaking of His literal brothers, the male children of Mary and Joseph.  His brothers urge Him to abandon the policy mentioned in verse 1 and to return to Judea to show His disciples there the works that He is doing.

4.  “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.”

This was His brothers’ wisdom.  They decided that the Lord was doing the things He was doing because He wanted to be publicly known.  Since publicity was all they could think of, they urged Him to return to the more heavily-populated and important province of Judea, knowing that His message would be given far more credence if it was accepted there than if it was accepted in Galilee.  Moreover, Judea is where most visitors to Israel would come, and if His message became popular there it could spread to the rest of the world through these visitors, whereas no such thing would happen from Him preaching in Galilee.  Thus, their advice seemed to be sound to them.  Yet they were wrong in their basic assumption that the Lord Jesus sought such recognition.  Christ’s purpose was not to simply become known.  He wanted rather to do the will of His Father.  Popularity such as they would have sought was neither His aim nor His goal.

The word “world” here is the Greek word kosmos, which means an orderly system or arrangement.  I believe that in this verse it is specifically referring to that system of leadership and religious government that existed in the land of Israel at that time.  The men who were a part of that government were a system or arrangement, and so they are called here a “world.”  What His brothers really wanted Him to do was to present Himself to the religious leaders, that arrangement of men who ruled the lives and religious practices of the nation at that time.  They wanted Him to seek their approval, because they believed that with their approval He could truly become known and be recognized as the Messiah.

5.  For even His brothers did not believe in Him.

His brothers’ reasoning had one more fatal flaw.  They did not truly believe in Him!  Perhaps it was too difficult for them to think of their “big brother” as God Himself.  Why then did they urge Him to go and present Himself to the religious leaders if they did not truly believe that He was the Messiah?  Perhaps they thought that the religious leaders would reject Him, and that this would cut Him down to size and make Him realize that He wasn’t anything special like He thought He was.  It would serve Him right, they might have thought, to have the leaders reject Him.  Notice again how John points out the fact that they did not believe.  Remember the purpose of this book!  John seems to be saying to us, “Do you believe like the Lord’s brothers did, that He was just a glory-seeker?  Or do you believe what I am setting forth in this book, that He was truly the Christ, the Son of God?”

6.  Then Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.

It was not yet time for the Lord to present Himself to the world of the religious leaders.  Later He would do this, and they would reject Him just as His brothers anticipated, and would arrest Him and condemn Him to death on a cross.  His brothers could not have known this later part, yet He did, and He knew that the proper time for this to happen had not yet come.

7.  “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.

If it had been one of His brothers doing the works and seeking the glory, he would not have been hated by the religious leaders that controlled the world of Israel.  Why not?  Because they too were fallen and sinful beings, just like the rest of the world.  Thus the world could not hate His brothers like it hated Christ.  Christ was perfect, and thus His life and actions testified to the world that its works were evil.  These religious leaders hid from this truth, and thus they hated the Lord when His righteous actions pointed out their own wickedness and hypocrisy.

8.  “You go up to this feast.  I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.”

The Lord had a specific time clock He had to follow.  It was that which had been laid out for Him by His Father.  Each event in His life, each critical turning point, had to come at the time and in the way that God intended it.  Thus, He could not take His brothers’ advice.  His proper time to go to the feast had not yet come.  Thus, He urges them to go up to the feast themselves, while He stays behind.  Notice that He does not say that He will not go up to the feast at all, however, but only that He is “not yet” going up.

“Up” here confuses some people, as Judea is south of Galilee.  Yet remember that these people had to travel on foot everywhere they went.  In such an environment, “up” meant “uphill,” not “north.”  Jerusalem was at a very high elevation, and so would have been “up” from Galilee.  Also, it was a highly significant place to God’s plans, and so He always viewed it as being “up.”  Nowhere in the Bible does anyone ever go “down” to Jerusalem!

9.  When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee.

In other words, He stayed behind while they traveled together to the feast.

10.  But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.

After waiting for His time to fully come, He is at last ready, and follows His brothers to the feast.  Notice that He does not go openly, however, as they urged Him to do, but rather in secret.  Again, He was seeking to avoid conflict with the religious leaders of that world.  The time for Him to present Himself to them was not yet come.

11.  Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, “Where is He?”

Notice the contrast between the “Jews” here and in verse 13, and the “people” in verse 12.  This is yet another proof that John uses the word “Jews” to refer to the religious leaders only, and not to the common people of Israel.

The Jews are seeking Him at the feast.  No doubt they were hoping to arrest Him for breaking their Sabbath laws.  When they do not find Him, they ask around to try to find out where He is.

12.  And there was much murmuring among the people concerning Him.  Some said, “He is good”; others said, “No, on the contrary, He deceives the people.”

The word “people” here is actually the Greek word for “crowds.”  These “crowds” are to be distinguished from the Jews, who were seeking Him.  These crowds were murmuring amongst themselves concerning Him.  Some thought He was good, while others thought He was a deceiver.  The same argument exists today.  Was the Lord Jesus really Who He claimed to be?  Or was He a deceiver like the founders of so many false religions have been?  They argued about this, but none of them knew for sure.  Why not?  Because God had not yet revealed to the world the truth about Jesus Christ.  Thus, He left the people to speculate, and speculate they did.  Only when Christ had risen from the dead would God allow the real truth about Him to be preached for all to hear.

13.  However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews.

Again, notice how this makes plain that the “Jews” are an entity entirely different from the crowds.  Those who blame the crowds for the actions of their leaders do so only by failing to recognize the clear testimony of Scripture.

The crowds were murmuring amongst themselves their opinions about Christ, but no one dared speak their opinions openly because they feared the Jews.  Why did not even those who thought Christ was a deceiver speak openly?  Since the Jews were rejecting Him, wouldn’t they have figured that this would get them on the Jews’ good side?  This seems a puzzle until we realize that the Jews had not yet announced their verdict on the Lord Jesus.  They were seeking Him to bring Him before them, yet they had not yet publicly announced any sort of judgment regarding Him and the evidence His miracles provided.  Thus, these people all feared to speak openly until they saw which way the Pharisees and other leaders would cast their vote.  These people had no strong opinion, and so they preferred to simply wait to see which way the wind would blow.  This was the way these men were, yet this is not the way that we should be.  Whether or not others believe in Christ, we should throw our lot in with Him.  The cautious attitude of these men is again to make us think about our own response to Christ and His teachings.  Will we simply follow what is popular, or will we be willing to take a stand for the truth?

14.  Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught.

The Lord was not just doing things in a random order, but rather He was working according to a specific plan that He had in mind.  Thus for the first half of the feast He kept Himself from the public spotlight and remained in secret at the feast.  Now, when the feast was half done, however, was the time for Him to start teaching again openly, and so we went up into the temple and taught.  “Temple” here is the Greek word hieron, and means the temple grounds, not the central building where all the great ceremonies of the law were to be observed.

15.  And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?”

The Jews, the leadership class in Israel, marveled at the Lord.  They could not figure out how He could know so much about the writings of the Scriptures when He had never been taught.  Of course, we realize that the answer was that He had divine knowledge.  The Creator did not need to go to schools of men to learn wisdom.  Nor did the Author of the Book Himself need someone to teach it to Him.  Yet the attitude of these religious leaders is an all too common one.  Many there are in religious circles today who do not think that one can know anything about “Christianity” unless he has been educated in the universities and seminaries and institutions of men.  The idea of learning knowledge simply from reading God’s Word and studying what He has to say is foreign to them.  They think that only by graduating from their institutions can one be qualified to speak about the things of God.  How wrong they are!  We need to understand that a university or seminary graduation is no substitute for a working knowledge of the words that God has given us.

16.  Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His Who sent Me.

The Lord revealed to them where He got this knowledge.  This was not something He had studied and worked hard to learn.  Rather, this knowledge He had was His because it had first belonged to His Father.  His was the knowledge, and His was the teaching that Christ was setting forth.

17.  “If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My Own authority.

What Christ means here is that if anyone truly wants to do the will of the Father, then he will choose to get to know the Lord’s doctrine so that he can figure out if it is really a teaching that comes from God or not.  This was true then, and it is still true today.  Many there are who claim to want to worship God, and yet they never take the time to get to know and to examine the words of Jesus Christ to see if they are from God or not.  Thus they display the fact that they do not really care all that much about doing God’s will.  If they did care, then they would do the work necessary.  All too many care much less about obedience than they would like to claim!

18.  “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One Who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.

Anyone who might speak words like those the Lord Jesus was speaking and who spoke them from himself would only be doing so to seek his own glory.  There have been many who have claimed to be Jesus Christ or some other great person and have been seeking to get glory by saying it.  Yet all of these came only on their own merit and authority.  Yet Jesus Christ spoke these words and came not to seek His Own glory but the glory of the One Who sent Him.  Thus, since He was sent by God and since He sought God’s glory, not His Own, we can know that the things He said were true.  It was not because of seeking unrighteousness that He spoke them.  False christs like David Koresh seek to do unrighteousness based on their false claims.  Koresh, for example, taught his followers that as the Christ he should be able to sleep with all their wives at any time he wanted to!  Yet there was no such wicked motivation behind Christ’s words.  Because He sought God’s glory rather than His Own, we know that there was no such unrighteousness in Him.

19.  “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keeps the law?  Why do you seek to kill Me?”

These Jews had received the law from Moses, and they claimed to hold it in great honor.  Yet none of them truly kept the law.  As we learned in Matthew 15:6b, these men had “made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.”  Thus none of them truly kept it.  This does not mean that no one could keep the law.  Zechariah and Elizabeth kept it, for example, as we read in Luke 1:6.  Christ did not mean that no one had ever kept the law, but only that these Jews did not.  His point is that they were the ones seeking their own glory.  They claimed to be so superior to the common people, and so above the sins that plague normal men, and yet at the same time none of them kept the law.  The very thing that they wanted to accuse Christ of, of seeking His Own glory, was what they themselves were doing!

Then Christ reveals to these Jews that He knows their thoughts.  They are seeking to kill Him.  This was a fact that they didn’t want the common people to know, however, because they generally favored Christ.

20.  The people answered and said, “You have a demon.  Who is seeking to kill You?”

The people do not know that the Jews are trying to find some way to kill Christ for healing the lame man on the Sabbath Day.  Thus they scorn His words here, and accuse Him of having a demon.  It seems strange to us nowadays, but the fact is that at that time demon possession was common.  This was not just some strange superstition that the people of the day had, but a known phenomenon of the times.  It is speculated (and could likely be true) that this work of the Enemy’s was a special work done at that time to attempt to counter and prevent the work the Lord was coming to do.  At any rate, it seems that demon-possession was common, and was a sad reality that the common people were far too familiar with.

Notice that this reality was taking place in Israel itself, the very center of God’s work at that time and the place where His temple was and where He was to be truly worshipped!  Some people today would like to think that the reason we don’t have demon-possession common in our country today is because we are a more “spiritual,” enlightened country, and that such things are reserved for the pagans and the ignorant in third world countries.  Yet this was not the case in the past.  It was in Israel, the very heart of enlightenment and worship of the true God, that we see most of the demon-possession taking place.  Our country is not specially protected because we are somehow more enlightened.  Rather, this is a phenomenon that either God has graciously done away with in this the dispensation of grace, or else that Satan has brought to an end as being no longer effective in these changed times.  Either way, we simply do not see this sort of thing going on today.

Now since we do not find ourselves surrounded by demon-possession today, it becomes hard for us to define this problem, to determine what exactly its symptoms were, to discover what exactly its results would be, and to know how one might diagnose someone as being demon possessed.  This was a problem that the people of that time wouldn’t have had, being familiar with the curse and what it entailed.  Thus, it seems that they recognize in Christ’s words here something that would be similar to what a demon-possessed person might say.  Perhaps those who were possessed would often go around saying things like, “He’s trying to kill me!  You’re all trying to kill me!” or something of that nature.  Thus, hearing Christ say that the Jews were seeking to kill Him, they thought that they recognized this same symptom in Him.  They did not understand that He was right and that they really did intend to put Him to death if they could find some way to do so and maintain their power and respect in the sight of the people.

21.  Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel.

The Lord does not deny the people’s mistaken and insulting accusation.  Indeed, He seems to totally ignore their words, and to continue to rebuke the Jews for seeking to kill Him.  Thus, He points them back to the work He had done that had them so upset and seeking to kill Him: the healing of the lame man on the Sabbath Day.  He had done that work, and they all marveled at it.  However, it seems that some of them were marveling more over the fact that He had been brave enough to defy them and do this miracle on the Sabbath than they were over the fact that He had the ability to do the miracle in the first place!

22.  “Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.

Circumcision had originally had been given to Abraham as a covenant between him and God (Genesis 17:9-14.)  Moses, however, was the one who made it a part of the law and thus a perpetual ordinance for the entire nation descended from Israel (Leviticus 12:3.)  The commandment was that all male children should be circumcised on the eighth day from birth, “And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.”  Thus, in order to keep the covenant, they always circumcised male children on the eighth day, even if that day was a Sabbath, when such a work would normally not be permitted.

23.  “If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath?

If a man could be wounded by the cutting off of his foreskin on the Sabbath in order to keep the law of Moses, did it make sense that the Jews were so full of bile (Greek cholao from chole or “bile”) that the Lord Jesus had made a man completely well on the Sabbath?  No, this was nonsense!  Yet this is how the Jews were behaving.  Their whole argument against the Lord was silly and based on their foolish interpretations of the law.  Yet they stubbornly stuck to them to the end, refusing to accept the Lord’s rebuke of them and their false religious practices.  How like so many of those who consider themselves highly religious today, who it seems would rather reject God completely than admit that He is right and they are wrong!

24.  “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

They were judging just as things appeared outwardly.  All they saw was someone defying the Sabbath law.  They gave no consideration to the fact of how loving and merciful His act had been, nor to the obvious truth that without God’s power and therefore approval He never would have been able to do the act in the first place!  They were blinded by the way things appeared on the surface.  Thus, they would not do what He urged them to do and to judge with righteous judgment.  Let us never be guilty of such stubborn and blind adherence to our own favorite set of rules to the exclusion of all else.  Rather, let us do as Christ urged the Jews here and judge in every situation with righteous judgment.