After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
The tension ratchets up in the seventh chapter of John's Gospel. Not only do his disciples abandon him, but the Jews are after Jesus' blood, looking for a way to kill him. How does one live with the constant threat of death lurking around the corner? It doesn't seem to faze Jesus, although he doesn't take unnecessary risks. Instead of going to Judea, where the danger is greatest, he goes around Galilee.
However, he faces a more personal tension. When the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers told him to leave Galilee and go to Judea so that his disciples there may see the works he did. They said, "No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world'" (John 7:2-4). These might seem encouraging, but John's next words provide a startling revelation. He writes: "For even his own brothers did not believe in him" (John 7:5).
Wow! Those who had grown up with Jesus, shared meals with him, and witnessed his daily life did not believe in his divine mission. It's a potent reminder that familiarity can sometimes be a barrier to faith. It's easy to overlook the extraordinary when it's wrapped in the ordinary.
One admires John for not concealing such unpleasantries, which stand as a testament to the authenticity of his Gospel. His including such a personal and seemingly unflattering detail about Jesus' family underscores his commitment to truth, even when it's uncomfortable.
However, the question for us is whether we would have behaved differently, given our biases and preconceptions. How often do we miss the truth because it doesn't fit our expectations? How often do we overlook the miraculous because it's presented in mundane wrapping? Jesus' own family missed the signs because they were too close to Jesus.
In our faith journey, let us have the humility to recognize the divine in the commonplace, see beyond the familiar, and embrace the extraordinary even when it's found in the most ordinary circumstances.
God bless you.