By Mike Mendler
There is an interesting passage in John Chapter 7 which gives us a glimpse of Jesus’ relationships with his brothers. As the Feast of Tabernacles drew 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 be a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world” (v3-4).
We discover two interesting things here:
1. Jesus’ brothers recognized that he had performed miracles.
2. They believed Jesus was seeking to be a “public figure”.
I think it’s interesting that his brothers – who weren’t disciples – made no attempt to deny Jesus’ ability to work miracles. The implication is that his miracles were in fact, undeniable. And despite that fact, they didn’t believe in him. It is also interesting that they misjudged him – accused him of’ showboating’ and seeking fame. In fact, when I was examining Christ’s claims for myself many years ago (before I was a Christian), what struck me most about Jesus in light of his audacious claims was his seeming indifference toward ‘proving’ himself to people.
Jesus often withdrew from crowds, and performed his miracles in secret. And when bluntly challenged to prove himself, he refused to do so. No one who was trying to gain a following or prove themself to others would ever do that. His behavior instead had all the hallmarks of a man who knew who he was and had no inner need to prove himself to anyone. It was perhaps this fact more than any other that convinced me that Jesus’ claims about himself were authentic.
The passage then goes on to affirm what was already evident by his brother’s comments – that “even his own brothers didn’t believe in him” (v5). And sometimes as Christians we think the fact that some of our family members don’t believe means we’re doing something wrong… Even Jesus had unbelievers in his family!
The verse that follows is one of my favorite verses in the Bible because more than any other I think, it identifies the uniqueness of the Christ’s message among that of other religions and the reasons for people’s discomfort with Jesus on the whole. He says to his brothers, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.” No one likes to be told that what they’re doing is wrong. And as much as other religions may encourage moral behavior, only Christianity confronts people directly with their failures, calls them sinners, and proclaims, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!”
Think about it. What other religion of the world calls people sinners and demands that people repent? It’s confrontational. It’s in your face. And it angers people because it is true and it hurts. The world is messed up because of our failures, our sin, and no other reason. Of all the messages we may hear in our lifetime it is the one we hate the most, and the one we most need to hear.
About the Author: Mike Mendler
Formerly an agnostic, Mike became a Christian after carefully investigating the Christian faith and the claims of Christ as an undergrad at the University of Windsor. Following the completion of a Master of Arts Degree in English and Creative Writing, Mike received ministry training at Windsor Christian Fellowship, the local church where he has served as associate pastor (1999-2001) and youth pastor (2001-2011). Mike is currently working on a book tentatively entitled Considering God: With common sense as their guide, a preacher and a student search for the truth.