(Vs. 1) "After these things" evidently has reference to our Lord's ministry in Galilee (John 2:1-11; John 4:43-54) but particularly to what is recorded in Chapter 6 His discourse on the bread of life and the fact that most of these Galilean disciples "went back and walked no more with Him." But He remained in Galilee and would not go into Judea because the "Jews" (that is, the religious leaders) "sought to kill Him." They had two things against Him. (1) His violation of the sabbath by healing the man at the pool of Bethesda. (2) His making Himself equal with God (John 5:16-18).
(Vs. 2) The feast of the tabernacles was a feast, which the Lord ordained the Jews to keep the 15th day of the seventh month, after they had gathered in the fruits of the land. They were to dwell in tents these seven days in remembrance of the forty years spent in the wilderness (Lev. 23:34-36, 39-44). The feast was the grand harvest festival, when the Lord of harvest was praised for His mercies.
(Vs. 3) "His brethren" were the brothers of Christ according to the fleshthe sons of Mary and Joseph (Matt. 12:46-47; Matt. 13:55). These men urged Him to go to Jerusalem, the center of Judaism, and let His followers there see the mighty works and miracles He was doing. They observed that His disciples in Galilee had forsaken Him. They thought that this feast of the tabernacles would be a good time for Him to demonstrate His powers, since multitudes of Jews would be in Jerusalem at this time.
(Vs. 4) Note the word "if" here. The word indicates unbelief, doubt, and challenge. These brethren are saying, "If these works of yours are real and genuine, don't confine yourself to small villages in Galilee; go to the capital of religion and show yourself to the famous and to the influential people." They reasoned that a man who sought notoriety could not find it in obscure towns. Perhaps they hoped that He would establish His fame; and, as His kinsmen, they could share in. it.
(Vs. 5) But this verse reveals the truth about these brethren. "They did not believe Him to be the Messiah" (Psalm 69:8). Many believe that Mark 3:21 refers to these kinsmen, who thought He was "beside himself."
(Vs. 6-8) These verses must be considered together; for He begins with, "My time is not yet come," and closes the statement with practically the same words, "My time is not yet fully come." Some believe that the simple meaning of these verses is that Christ declined to go up to the feast with His brethren at this particular time. But in the light of other similar statements (John 2:4; John 8:20; Matt. 26:18), the time or hour was not yet come for Him to publicly display His miracles in Jerusalem, to have a head-on confrontation with the religious leaders, to reveal Himself as the Messiah and King, and so to stir up their enmity and fears of Him which would lead them to crucify Him in open shame. He said to these brethren, "Your time is always ready," or anytime is suitable for you; for you are of the world, and the world does not hate you. They had in mind, like everyone else, an earthly kingdom, great favor, and applause of the world. But our Lord came to redeem a people, to condemn the social, political, and religious world in general; therefore, He incurred the wrath of ail. "My kingdom is not of this world." When the proper time came, our Lord would speak the words, do the works, and accomplish in Jerusalem what He came to do!
(Vs. 9) When He said these words, He abode still in Galilee while His brethren went to the feast in Jerusalem.
(Vs. 10) The general method of travel in those days, especially at festival seasons, was to form a caravan and travel with many people. If the "famous Galilean" had gone with this crowd to Jerusalem, it would have been sensational and contrary to His purpose. He chose rather to go in secret and avoid the publicity. We must keep in mind the Lord's purpose was not notoriety, fame, and a following of opportunists, but to follow the Divine timetable in revealing Himself as the "Lamb of God," the Redeemer of sinners, and to accomplish that which was "written of Him in the volume of the book" (Heb. 10:7-9).
(Vs. 11-12) What a contrast of opinions in these early days concerning Jesus of Nazareth! The Jewish leaders sought Him with wrath and contempt because six months earlier at the feast of the passover He had stirred up their anger by violating their sabbath and making Himself equal with God (John 5:16-18). The general public was divided over Him, some saying, "He is a good man;" others, "an imposter" (Matt. 16:13-17).
(Vs. 13) Though many of the Galileans and the common people had a good opinion of Jesus Christ, they did not dare freely express their thoughts concerning Him because they feared the rulers of the Jews, who despised Him (John 19:38; Prov. 29:25).