By Tyson Thorne

July 11, 2019

John 21 Large

Today we begin exploring John's fourth movement in the book, The Conflict of Men Against the Messiah, starting with chapter seven through chapter 12. John begins this section by explaining the climate toward the Messiah. One could compare Jesus' popularity with that of America's current president, Donald Trump. Jesus was very popular among the common people across the land, but reviled by religious and political powers especially those found in the larger cities of Israel. Some scholars note that John is anti-Jewish, but his explanation of events here and elsewhere show a balanced telling of true history.

John begins by not explaining how much time has passed, dismissing half a year with the words "After this." Previously, Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover, but now the Feast of Tabernacles (a fall festival) is near. The crops have been brought in and everyone was looking forward to traveling to Jerusalem and pitching their tents in an act reminiscent of the way their forefathers lived when wandering in the desert. Jesus was instead traveling around Galilee, a district adjacent to Judea where all the merriment was to take place.

Why did Jesus take time to travel around Galilee instead of heading to the festival? The people there liked him, with the exception of his half brothers who, in brotherly fashion, taunted him ruthlessly. In Judea, Jesus knew, the religious leaders were waiting for him so they could exercise a plot to kill him. This is about a year before his crucifixion, and there were still miracles to perform and lessons to be taught. It isn't clear if Jesus' brothers were aware of what the religious leaders were plotting, I'm hoping not, but they told Jesus he should "take his act" to Judea for the festival. Jesus simply, and somewhat cryptically, answered, "My time has not yet arrived."

After his brothers left for the feast, Jesus covertly followed and got a read on the people. There were no pollsters in those days, but Jesus still got the intelligence he needed: the people were divided. Some believed he was a good man, others that he was a deceiver, and still others didn't speak of him at all for fear of recriminations by the Jewish leadership. He needed to reach these people, the people he loved, but he had to be smart. He needed a plan.

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