[New to our exegesis of John’s Gospel? Try starting at The Beginning — John 1:1-2].
After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him. 2 Now the Jewish Festival of Booths was near. 3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing, 4 for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 (For not even his brothers believed in him.) 6 Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil. 8 Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After saying this, he remained in Galilee.
10 But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but, as it were, in secret. 11 The Jews were looking for him at the festival and saying, “Where is he?” 12 And there was considerable complaining about him among the crowds. While some were saying, “He is a good man,” others were saying, “No, he is deceiving the crowd.” 13 Yet no one would speak openly about him for fear of the Jews.
Καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα περιεπάτει ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐν τῇ Γαλιλαίᾳ, οὐ γὰρ ἤθελεν ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ περιπατεῖν, ὅτι ἐζήτουν αὐτὸν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι ἀποκτεῖναι. 2 ἦν δὲ ἐγγὺς ἡ ἑορτὴ τῶν Ἰουδαίων ἡ σκηνοπηγία. 3 εἶπον οὖν πρὸς αὐτὸν οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ· Μετάβηθι ἐντεῦθεν καὶ ὕπαγε εἰς τὴν Ἰουδαίαν, ἵνα καὶ οἱ μαθηταί σου θεωρήσουσιν σοῦ τὰ ἔργα ἃ ποιεῖς· 4 οὐδεὶς γάρ τι ἐν κρυπτῷ ποιεῖ καὶ ζητεῖ αὐτὸς ἐν παρρησίᾳ εἶναι· εἰ ταῦτα ποιεῖς, φανέρωσον σεαυτὸν τῷ κόσμῳ. 5 οὐδὲ γὰρ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ ἐπίστευον εἰς αὐτόν. 6 λέγει οὖν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Ὁ καιρὸς ὁ ἐμὸς οὔπω πάρεστιν, ὁ δὲ καιρὸς ὁ ὑμέτερος πάντοτέ ἐστιν ἕτοιμος. 7 οὐ δύναται ὁ κόσμος μισεῖν ὑμᾶς, ἐμὲ δὲ μισεῖ, ὅτι ἐγὼ μαρτυρῶ περὶ αὐτοῦ ὅτι τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ πονηρά ἐστιν. 8 ὑμεῖς ἀνάβητε εἰς τὴν ἑορτήν· ἐγὼ οὐκ ἀναβαίνω εἰς τὴν ἑορτὴν ταύτην, ὅτι ὁ ἐμὸς καιρὸς οὔπω πεπλήρωται. 9 ταῦτα δὲ εἰπὼν αὐτὸς ἔμεινεν ἐν τῇ Γαλιλαίᾳ.
10 Ὡς δὲ ἀνέβησαν οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν ἑορτήν, τότε καὶ αὐτὸς ἀνέβη, οὐ φανερῶς ἀλλὰ ὡς ἐν κρυπτῷ. 11 οἱ οὖν Ἰουδαῖοι ἐζήτουν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ καὶ ἔλεγον· Ποῦ ἐστιν ἐκεῖνος; 12 καὶ γογγυσμὸς περὶ αὐτοῦ ἦν πολὺς ἐν τοῖς ὄχλοις· οἱ μὲν ἔλεγον ὅτι Ἀγαθός ἐστιν, ἄλλοι δὲ ἔλεγον· Οὔ, ἀλλὰ πλανᾷ τὸν ὄχλον. 13 οὐδεὶς μέντοι παρρησίᾳ ἐλάλει περὶ αὐτοῦ διὰ τὸν φόβον τῶν Ἰουδαίων.
The World Hates Jesus
In our last two blogs on this passage, we noted Johannine themes of chronos and kairos time, and the echo of the Temptations of Christ in John’s Gospel reminiscent of the accounts of such in Matthew and Luke. Today we see the growing hostility to Jesus in response to his radical teachings and miracles. He is bucking the system and he’s in trouble! But it’s more than that: the presence of the Light pierces the darkness and exposes that which deceives humankind. The plot thickens with growing tension and intrigue.
In verse one, we find οὐ γὰρ ἤθελε (translated above as did not wish to go): the Imperfect active of θελω, however, gives the attitude of refusal to go into Judea. One could translate this: he dared not go! “The Jews” wanted to kill him. Once again — and this is so important to mention again — “The Jews” are the religious authorities who oppose Jesus and not the Jewish people. This is self-evident throughout John’s Gospel since these crowds were nearly entirely Jewish, as Jesus was! “The Jews” are religious authorities who have lost their way and can refer to such authorities in any racial group, church, religious establishment, and even government and business. These are simply forces that oppose the Truth. (I have at times realized I was one of “The Jews” in this sense in low points of my ministry). Jesus dared not go publically to Judea because in that region “The Jews” had a lot of power and their intent to kill him was a real threat.
These pages of the Gospel of John radiate a growing hostility between the powerful and this itinerant rabbi. A related kind of hostility is that of “the world” (κόσμος) toward Jesus, for the world hates Jesus. This Greek word for world is sometimes used as the spiritual enemy of God, and also used as the object of God’s affection (John 3:16).
Then, in verse 12, we find our familiar word (γογγυσμὸς) used to describe the murmuring or complaining of some in the crowd against Jesus. As we’ve noted, this is a loaded word that ties back to the Exodus (in the LXX) when the wandering Hebrews murmured against — opposed — the Plan of God.
Lastly, it is interesting to note in vv. 12-13, that some in the crowd accused Jesus of deceiving the people — in fact the opposite was true. He was telling the Truth and the religious authorities were deceiving the people to preserve their own power. And those who might publically defend Jesus were afraid of the authorities who wielded great power, though some had the courage to speak up and call Jesus “a good man.”
There are many ways we could sum up this section: here is one. Those in power have the force of intimidation and even the tools to deprive one of livelihood and sometimes life itself. Jesus confronted powerful structures and people with Truth and Light, revealing these tangled systems that hurt and destroy people.
And so they will hurt him!
It was true about the prophets. It was true about Jesus. And, if we find ourselves confronting evil systems, it will likely be true about us.
But that’s not the end of the Story!