Title: The challenge by the brothers
Scriptures to Read: John 7:2-10; Luke 9:51-56
The Feast of Tabernacles
John points out that the Feast of Booths was near. The Feast of Booths is the Feast of Tabernacles. What is the significance of the Feast of Tabernacles? Remember we looked at this when we were considering Peter’s response at the transfiguration. It was common knowledge among the Jews, based upon the prophecy of Zechariah in Zechariah 14:16-19, that the Feast of Tabernacles will be fulfilled in the Messianic Kingdom when it will be celebrated each year by all nations.
The brothers’ challenge
In view of this and in view of the fact that His brothers were not believing in Him, what is the significance of the challenge of His brothers here? They are challenging Him to go to Jerusalem at this festival and show Himself to the world as the king He claims to be. In other words, go up to Jerusalem make yourself king at the feast.
He tells them that He will not go up to Jerusalem for that purpose. In fact, He will go to Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles, as we will see, but He is not going to go there for the purpose of making Himself king on this occasion. His time is not yet fulfilled for this. As John points out, only after the brothers leave, does He begin to head towards Jerusalem.
And this time He wants to go through Samaria rather than going through Perea along the Jordan valley. What happens along the way? As we mentioned in connection with the Samaritan woman, the Samaritans did not bother Jews leaving Jerusalem, but they objected to Jews travelling through Samaria to get to Jerusalem. So they refused to welcome Him “because He was traveling toward Jerusalem” (Luke 9:53). This was quite a common incident in first century Israel.
James and John
So James and John ask if they could rain fire from heaven and wipe out these Samaritans, not exactly showing love for them. Their response was showing anti-Samaritanism. Jesus rebuked them. And they proceeded to a different village. We don’t know which way Jesus went. He may have gone on to another Samaritan village, or He may have chosen to go via Perea along the Jordan valley.