“Timing is Everything” – John 7:1-13

Sunday, May 24th, 2020

John 7:1-13

“Timing is Everything”

Service Orientation: Trusting God’s timing, and adhering to His agenda was essential to Jesus. As Jesus’ followers, can we say the same?

Memory Verse for the Week: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6

Background Information:

  • The Feast of Tabernacles looked back to Israel’s journey through the wilderness, and looked forward to the promised kingdom of Messiah. The Jews lived in booths made of branches to remind them of God’s providential care of the nation for nearly forty years (Lev. 23:33–44). (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Vol. 1, 314)
  • Because the gathering in Jerusalem brought together pilgrims from every section of Palestine, Jesus’ brothers saw an excellent opportunity for him to acquire some publicity. Their advice to him was to join the crowds in Jerusalem so that he might enhance his reputation and gain more followers. Their suggestion may have been more sarcastic than serious, since they did not believe in him (v.5). To “believe in him” may carry with it a recognition of his purpose and sympathy with it, which his brothers did not have. Consequently their counsel may have been for him to abandon the idealism of teaching multitudes in obscurity and of risking death. If he possessed the powers his miracles seemed to imply, he should display them to the best advantage and capitalize on them. (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, 82)
  • Mary bore other children, with Joseph as their natural father (Matt. 13:55–56; Mark 6:1–6), so Jesus would have been their half-brother. It seems incredible that His brothers could have lived with Him all those years and not realized the uniqueness of His person. Certainly they knew about His miracles (see John 7:3–4) since everybody else did. Having been in the closest contact with Him, they had the best opportunity to watch Him and test Him, yet they were still unbelievers. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Vol. 1, 314-315)
  • Notice the little word yet in “My time is not yet come.” Jesus did not say that He would not go down to the feast, but He was not going down with them publicly to win public favor by something spectacular, or whatever they wanted Him to do. He would go at His Father’s appointed time and in His Father’s way. (J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible Commentary Series, John, 119)

The question to be answered is…

What’s the big deal about Jesus NOT going up to the festival? What does this account reveal to us about Jesus?


Jesus’ mission was far more important than crowd approval. It required utmost obedience and trust in the Father’s precise plan and divine timing in order to suffice as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.

The word of the day is… Essential

 What’s essential to note from this text and what does it reveal about Jesus’ mission? 

  1. Obedience to the Father was essential. 

(Jer. 7:23; John 14:31; Acts 5:29; Rom. 5:19; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 2:8; Heb. 5:9; 1 Pet. 3:18)

Jesus withdrew to Galilee from Judea not out of cowardice, but out of His complete submission to the Father’s plan. He would not run from death when it was time to die. But obedience to the Father ranked above every other prize, even the appearance of bravery. (Joseph Dongell, John: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, 105)

Recognizing that Jesus is a miracle worker does not make one a believer. Rather, here the world is offering the Son of God some marketing strategies. They assume he wants to be in the limelight and will do what is necessary to gain a following. In this they echo Satan’s temptation (Mt 4:1-11 par. Lk 4:1-13). But Jesus rejects their suggestion just as he rejected the earlier attempt by some to make him king (6:15). Jesus’ aim is not to gain a following but to reveal his Father by being faithful and obedient to him. Jesus does not need suggestions from others, even those closest to him in his family. (Rodney A. Whitacre, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: John, 179)

  1. Trusting the Father’s timing was essential.

(Gen. 18:14; Ps. 31:14-15; 37:7; 56:4; 118:8; Ecc. 3:1; Is. 26:4; Nahum 1:7; Acts 3:19-21)

That is the main difference in this passage between Jesus and them. Jesus is aware of a ‘time’ which is coming – but which hasn’t come yet. Like a skilled sailor watching for the moment when the tide begins to turn, then waiting for the moment when it will be full enough to set sail, he has a plan in mind which will gradually come to light. And the plan, as John has already been hinting to us, has a Passover shape to it, not a Tabernacles shape. As we shall see later in the chapter, there are things about the festival of Booths which Jesus regards as pointing forwards to his own achievement. But Passover is when the lamb will be sacrificed. (N.T. Wright, John for Everyone, Part 1, 94)

  1. Taking a pass on the world’s approval was essential.

(Ps. 118:6-9; Prov. 29:25; Jer. 17:5; Mat. 7:13-14; 2 Cor. 10:18; Phil. 3:20; James 4:4)

Jesus’ brothers put pressure on Him to go to Jerusalem at this time so that the great holiday audience could see His works. If He was to get a movement going, why limit Himself to out-of-the-way places in Galilee? This is a subtle temptation for Jesus, particularly because it comes from His own brothers who are not believers. “Show Yourself to the world,” they told Him. It is possible that if He accepted their challenge they might submit to His guidance. This is simply a continuation of the wilderness temptation, “the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down'” (Matt. 4:5-6). Dazzle them and You will win a following. But we have seen that miracles do not bring belief. (Roger L. Fredrikson, The Communicator’s Commentary: John, 143-4)


Conclusion: How should this text challenge how we follow Jesus today?

 A. Remember that obedience always trumps sacrifice.

(1 Sam. 15:22; Luke 6:46; 11:28; John 14:15; James 1:22-25; 1 Pet. 1:14; 1 John 3:24)

The real cause of many people’s dislike of the Gospel is the holiness of living which it demands. Teach abstract doctrines only, and few will find any fault. Denounce the fashionable sins of the day, and call on men to repent and walk consistently with God, and thousands at once will be offended. The true reason why many profess to be infidels, and abuse Christianity, is the witness that Christianity bears against their own bad lives. Like Ahab, they hate it, “because it does not prophesy good concerning them, but evil.” (1 Kings 22:8.) (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John Vol.2, 2) [side note: this commentary was first published in 1869]


B. Revere God’s timing in every circumstance. You can trust Him!

(Ps. 9:10; 103:10; Prov. 3:5; Is. 40:31; Acts 15:11; Rom. 3:24; 5:15; 8:28; 11:6; Eph. 2:8-9)

We may be tempted to think that our allegiance to God somehow makes us immune to danger, burnout, mistakes, and even gross sins. Many who have regarded themselves beyond temptation have failed miserably. We can keep from living recklessly by honoring God’s timing in our lives. Sometimes obedience involves risk; sometimes it involves caution. We must determine to wholeheartedly cooperate with God’s plans. Therefore, we should not be driven by fear, impulsiveness, ignorance, or anxiety. Sometimes the wisest, most difficult action is the decision to wait for God’s timing. (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 146)


C. Remember, if the world hates you because of your faith, rejoice! You’re in good company with Jesus!

(Prov. 29:25; Is. 50:10; Mat. 5:11-12; John 16:33; 1 Cor. 2:14; Gal. 1:10; Col. 3:23-24; 1 Thes. 2:4; 1 John 2:15)

 The world is hostile to Christ. The reason is that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. He turns on that Light, and the Light reveals everything that is wrong; it reveals sin. He condemns sin. That is the reason He is hated even today. He condemns sin by His very presence, by His very life. This raises a hostility in man because the heart of man is evil. Christ went to the cross because He loved the human family. Redeeming love is what has broken the heart of hostile man. (J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible Commentary Series, John, 120)


Worship Point…

God is worthy of our worship because in His perfect timing He sent Jesus to offer new life for those who will turn to Him. (Acts 3:19; 1 John 1:9; Heb. 1:6; 2 Pet. 3:9)

In our Lord’s actions, we see a beautiful illustration of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. The Father had a plan for His Son, and nothing could spoil that plan. Jesus did not tempt the Father by rushing to the feast, nor did He lag behind when the proper time had come for Him to attend the feast. It requires spiritual discernment to know God’s timing. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Vol. 1, 315)


Gospel Application…

The gospel is a call to receive a new identity rooted in Jesus. It results in us trusting His timing, and choosing to live like Him regardless of what the world thinks.

The world will always have good advice to offer to God’s servants, sometimes very friendly and well meant, sometimes subtle and with ill intent. (J.C. Macaulay, Expository Commentary on John, 99 )

It was not so much the high doctrines which He preached, as the high standard of practice which He proclaimed, which gave offence. It was not even His claim to be received the Messiah which men disliked so much, as His witness against the wickedness of their lives. In short, they could have tolerated His opinions if He would only have spared their sins. (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John Vol.2, 2)

We ought always to take care, therefore, that we do not, for the sake of life, lose the reasons for living. (John Calvin, Commentary on John, Vol1. 221)


Spiritual Challenge Questions…

Reflect on these questions in your time with the Lord this week, or discuss with a Christian family member or life group.

  • How does the current use of your time reflect how you sense Jesus would have you best use it? Are there things you should change in order to better walk in obedience to Him?
  • Do you struggle with trusting God’s timing? You’re not alone if you do, but what are some ways you can begin to challenge yourself to trust Him more?
  • What are you currently waiting on God for? How can you grow in your trust of His plan and provision for you through this circumstance?
  • In what ways or areas are you most tempted to give way to the world’s agenda? What are some things you can do, or begin to do, to help bolster your ability to withstand the world’s pressure on you?


Quotes to note…

Here as elsewhere in John’s gospel, the point is driven home that faith depends more upon the receptivity of the heart than upon the perception of the eye. As the incident of the loaves had proven, a crowd which sees with its eyes (and feels with its stomach) does not necessarily come to genuine faith in Jesus as the Son. (Joseph Dongell, John: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, 106)

In our pluralistic society we have lost the sense of significance regarding religious views. While we need not return to stoning false prophets, believers should have a sense of urgency in opposing false teaching. Jesus and his opponents cannot both be correct, and the choosing between them has eternal consequences. If Jesus is Lord, then he cannot be wedded to any other religion or philosophy. Rather, he is the standard of truth by which we assess all other claims. (Rodney A. Whitacre, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: John, 181)

Holy and perfect as Christ was, faultless and flawless as were His character and conduct, yet, even those who had been brought up with Him in the same house believed not in Him! It was bad enough that the nation at large believed not on Him, but the case of these “kinsmen” (Mark 3:21) was even more excuseless. How this demonstrates the imperative need of God’s almighty regenerating grace! And how this exemplifies Christ’s own teaching that “No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him”! And how striking to note that the unbelief of His “brethren” was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy: “I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children” (Ps. 69:8).   (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 375)

How easy it is to follow tradition and miss eternal truth. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Vol. 1, 315)

Rebellion loves company. People do not realize that indifference to Christ makes them partners with those who hate Christianity. (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 149)

The danger Jesus faced represented more than Jewish hostility toward Him, for it concretely dramatized the world’s revulsion of facing the truth about itself. (Joseph Dongell, John: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, 105)

The brothers had full confidence in Jesus miracle-working power, but failed to see the greater significance of the miracles (compare with the crowds in chapter 6) and failed to see through the signs to perceive the unique Sonship of Jesus and His offer of life. This was the point of unbelief, not a rejection of the miraculous. (Joseph Dongell, John: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, 106)

1 The chronological sequence is indicated by the indefinite reference “After this.” The writer evidently knew of Jesus’ later Galilean ministry but chose not to record it. He shows that Jesus did not return to Judea at once after the feeding of the multitude because his life would be in danger. Ever since the healing of the paralytic in Jerusalem, his opponents had been attempting to kill him (5:18); and as time progressed, their hatred increased (7:19, 30, 32, 44; 8:59; 10:39; 11:8, 53) until they finally accomplished his death. From this point the opposition to Jesus becomes increasingly prominent in this Gospel. (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, 81)

2 The Feast of Tabernacles was celebrated in the autumn “on the fifteenth day of the seventh month” (Lev. 23:34), which would compare roughly to the second week of October in our calendar. It began five days after the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and lasted eight days (Lev. 23:33-36; Deut. 16:13-17). Each family constructed temporary shelter of branches to live in for the period of the feast. This typified the years of wandering in the desert before the people entered the Promised Land. The feast was joyful in character and was a time of thanksgiving for the harvest that marked the transition from nomadic poverty to stable affluence in their own land. It was one of the three annual feasts at which attendance was required of all Jewish men (Deut 16:16). (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, 81-82)

7 Again Jesus asserted that he did not belong to this world. The world regarded him as an alien and an antagonist because he condemned its evil works. The same idea is reiterated in the discourse to the disciples in John 15:18-21 and in the prayer to the Father in 17:14,16. Jesus and the world at large lived in two different dimensions. (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, 82)

These “brethren” were the brothers of Christ according to the flesh: that is, they were sons of Mary too. That they were completely blind to His Divine glory is evident from the fact they here told Him what to do. Blind to His glory, they were therefore devoid of all spiritual discernment, and hence their reasoning was according to the carnal mind. (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 373)

“If thou do these things, show thyself to the world.” How these words betrayed their hearts! They were men of the world: consequently, they adopted its ways, spoke its language, and employed its logic. “Show thyself to the world” meant, Accompany us to Jerusalem, work some startling miracle before the great crowds who will be assembled there; and thus, not only make yourself the center of attraction, but convince everybody you are the Messiah. (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 374)

And right here is a solemn and searching test for those who profess to be His followers today. Dear reader, if you are popular with the world, that is indeed a solemn sign, an evil omen. The world has not changed. It still hates those whose lives condemn theirs. Listen to the words of Christ to His apostles, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19). Here our Lord tells us plainly that the world hates those who are truly His. This, then, is a searching test: does the world “hate” you? (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 376)

“But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast” (John 7:10). How tragic is this. How it reveals the hearts of these “brethren.” They left Christ for the Feast! They preferred a religious festival for fellowship with the Christ of God. And how often we witness the same thing today. What zeal there is for religious performances, for forms and ceremonies, and how little heart for Christ Himself. (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 377)

The festival, like Passover, was regarded as a key symbol of the great national hope: the coming of the Messiah, and liberation from Rome. The celebrations went on for a full eight days, starting and ending with a special sabbath. (N.T. Wright, John for Everyone, Part 1, 93)

Jesus’ brothers (who, again, play more of a role in John than in the other gospels) seem to be half believing and half not. They see that he’s doing remarkable things, but they don’t ‘believe’ in the full sense John is talking about. They see Jesus simply as an extraordinary wonder-worker who might well gain a larger following if only he would appear on a larger stage: Galilee wasn’t exactly a backwater, but Jerusalem was where everything happened that seemed to matter. But they have no sense that his mission will involve a single, final, decisive action through which Israel and the world will be changed for good. (N.T. Wright, John for Everyone, Part 1, 93-94)

When Jesus goes to Jerusalem he is, indeed, ‘showing himself to the world’, but it is a world turned against the God it continues outwardly to celebrate, a world that doesn’t want to know of his strange, loving purposes.  (N.T. Wright, John for Everyone, Part 1, 95)

These men certainly had the world’s point of view: if you want to get a following, use your opportunities to do something spectacular. Jerusalem would be crowded with pilgrims, and this would give Jesus the ideal “platform” to present Himself and win disciples. No doubt the brothers knew that the multitude of disciples had deserted Jesus (John 6:66). This was His opportunity to recoup His losses. Satan had offered a similar suggestion three years before (Matt. 4:1ff.). (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Vol. 1, 315)

Jesus was exercising caution because He knew that the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Him. Though they were “religious” leaders, they were a part of “the world” that hated Jesus because He exposed their evil works. By His character and His ministry, He revealed the shallowness and emptiness of their futile religious system; He called the people back to the reality of life in God. History reveals that the “religious system” often persecutes the very prophets of God who are sent to save it! (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Vol. 1, 315)

That great Scriptural doctrine, man’s need of preventing and converting grace, stands out here, as if written with a sunbeam. It becomes all who question that doctrine to look at this passage and consider. Let them observe that seeing Christ’s miracles, hearing Christ’s teaching, living in Christ’s own company, were not enough to make men believers. The mere possession of spiritual privileges never yet made any one a Christian. All is useless without the effectual and applying work of God the Holy Spirit. No wonder that our Lord said in another place, “No man can come to me, except the Father who has sent me draw him.” (John 6:44.) (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John Vol.2, 1-2)

The true servants of Christ in every age will do well to remember this. They are often surprised and troubled to find that in religion they stand alone. They are apt to fancy that it must be their own fault that all around them are not converted like themselves. They are ready to blame themselves because their families remain worldly and unbelieving. But let them look at the verse before us. In our Lord Jesus Christ there was no fault either in temper, word, or deed. Yet even Christ’s own “brethren did not believe in Him.” (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John Vol.2, 2)

Verse 1 reveals that a storm is gathering about the Person of Christ. Six months later that storm will break in all its fury upon Jesus on the cross. Friend, that storm is still going on. There is more difference of opinion about Him than about any other person who has ever lived. They blaspheme Him and say the worst things about Him that ever have been said. He’s controversial today. (J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible Commentary Series, John, 117-118)

From this chapter forward, John shows Jesus as the suffering Messiah—suffering the unbelief of his own family, the divided opinions of the crowd, and the persecution of the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem. (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 145)

“We must use the time which we have because even at best it is never enough” Elton Trueblood



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