Read John 7
Imagine if your older brother suddenly was out and about the countryside telling people that he was sent by God. What if he claimed to be the Christ? What if people started gathering whenever he came around? What if they were calling him a prophet or the Messiah?
What if the same guy who got to use the bathroom first all of your life, was steering clear of Jerusalem even though it was time to go for one of the Lord’s festivals? It was likely the Festival of Booths or Tabernacles, but what if him not going gave you a little leverage with your older brother?
Hey bro, you can’t be laying low here in Galilee if you are out to make a name for yourself?
What kind of prophet doesn’t go to Jerusalem for all the feasts and festivals?
There is a toast often attributed to the Sandhurst Military Academy in Great Britain or sometimes to the Royal Navy. It is: “To a short and bloody war.” What a crazy toast.
It means if there are some friendly casualties among the senior officers and noncommissioned officers, there is more room for promotion. It’s a little gallows humor that says it’s just the cost of doing business.
It seems like Jesus had some brothers with the same attitude. They didn’t believe he was the Messiah, at least not until after he went to the cross. They thought they might entice him to go make himself a target in the middle of that hornet’s nest called Jerusalem.
Here is the thinking: If they take out big brother, we all move up one. We all know who our daddy is and he is of this earth.
Jesus was not to be taunted into doing something that was not part of his mission or not the right time. He was doing the work that his Father sent him to do.
He did give his own brothers a bit of a chastising. The world can’t hate you. You are of the world. You are not seeking God. You blend right in with this self-serving world. You go on ahead.
Jesus did go, but kept a low profile. He heard what others were saying privately. He is a good man. He is a phony.
The thing was that nobody would weight in publicly. There was a sense of fear that prevailed. You didn’t want to commit too early and end up on the wrong side of this thing.
And so, we come back once again to fear. Fear prevailed. It was not a healthy fear such as the fear of the Lord, but it was a fear of the ruling religious Jews. It was a debilitating fear.
Remember that this was Jerusalem. This was the place where prophets were killed. He would go to Jerusalem later very publicly because his time had come, but not just yet. He had more work to do before the cross.
Fear was at work in Jerusalem. Fear has always been around. Fear waits for easy targets then builds momentum. Fear is still at work today.
We frequently recite the scripture from 2 Timothy 1:7. But do we live it?
Jesus knew if he rode into Jerusalem for this festival, he would be killed. He would be killed as a sacrifice for our sins, but not yet.
He was willing to and did sacrifice his life for us, but he did it on his own terms—actually on his Father’s terms. He was not afraid of dying, though he fully understood how difficult it would be. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
But he had more to accomplish. He would fulfil what the law required that no human had ever fulfilled before. And he would fulfill all prophecy concerning him. He used the sound mind which God has also granted us to accomplish his mission.
So, what do I do with this today? We are not debilitated by fear but our steps are purposed by our mission. When faced with a difficult choice that might involve danger or our safety or the safety of our families, we must first understand our mission and then decide our course of action based on how best to accomplish this.
That does not always involve diving in head-first or going boldly into the fray. We first assess what we are purposed to accomplish, then we decide and act. It’s that whole sound mind thing again, but with purpose as your rudder. Safety and survival are important, but our mission is our rudder in making sound decisions.
God may have given some the gift of martyr. It seems like a strange gift, but we consider it a gift from God. Most of you were not given this gift.
When Jesus talked about dying before you could live, for most of us that was not a martyr’s death. We don’t discard our survival instincts. The gift of martyr seems to have been given to a very few.
All were given a commission and a command. We are to take the gospel to the world and be known by our love for one another.
Jesus came from his Father in heaven on a mission, one to save the world. There would be a time to ride publicly into Jerusalem and a time to come discreetly.
We too are on a mission. We take God’s love and good news to the world. When we decide upon our course of action in a world full of fear, ask if your decision brings you closer to fulfilling your mission or puts your mission in jeopardy?
Don’t be overcome by fear. Don’t live recklessly. You are on a mission from God. Your decisions must support your mission.