What did I learn about Jesus?
- Jesus’ own brothers didn’t believe in him early in his ministry. (5)
- Our souls will not thirst if we believe in Jesus. (37-39)
What did I learn about disciple-making?
- We must help people learn the facts about Jesus so they can make well-informed decisions about following him.
- Sometimes people we don’t expect to follow Jesus do so, and other times, those we want to follow Jesus don’t.
Extended thoughts and observations from Pastor Mark:
Good morning disciple-makers:
This morning’s chapter starts with an odd exchange with Jesus’ own brothers. We are told that they don’t yet believe him (ultimately, they WOULD come to believe him and even become leaders of the Jesus movement.) But not yet. And yet they recommended that he leave Galilee and go down to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, a big Jewish festival held in the fall. Why? They claimed it was so his disciples could have better access to him. “No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret,” they said. “Since you are doing these things [miracles], show yourself to the world.”
This puzzles me. Why the advice? If they did not really believe in Jesus, why were they trying to get him out of Galilee and back into the public spotlight? Before you read on, try to answer this for yourself.
Maybe they were mocking him, just making fun of their showoff, miracle-working rabbi brother.
Maybe they wanted him out of Galilee because he was too crazy and had become an embarrassment.
Or maybe—and this is where I land—they wanted to ride on his coattails. Maybe, even though they didn’t REALLY believe in him, they liked being the brother of a celebrity. And there’s a lot more reflection under the spotlight in Jerusalem than in Podunk Galilee.
Makes me wonder how often I’m telling Jesus what to do and where to go—for whatever motives. Also makes me realize how much, like the brothers, I want Jesus to be popular because it reflects well on me. Bigger crowds, cooler converts, buzz in the community. The deepest disciple-making work of Jesus was USUALLY quiet and private, not spectacular. You only have to look at how the well-fed crowds in chapter 6 so quickly turned on Jesus to realize how short a half-life the miraculous has in people’s memory. The quiet, gentle witness we bear to genuinely open people in the backrooms of our life…that is probably what will bear the most fruit.
Also, notice how often location comes up in this chapter. Everyone is talking about where Jesus SHOULD be doing ministry or where the Messiah is SUPPOSED to come from. What is ironic of course is this: Jesus DID come from Bethlehem. Apparently no one cared to find out the facts before they accused him of being an imposter. How many potential disciples have made a decision about Jesus without actually having the facts? One thing that we can do is share the truth about Jesus rather than allowing people to reject him out of ignorance.
One thing more. I find it interesting that the chapter begins with Jesus’ own brothers NOT believing him and trying to use him…and it ends with the Temple Guard and even a Pharisee (Nicodemus) starting to believe in him. We might be surprised and heartbroken by those who don’t want to be Jesus’ disciples…and by those who do!