Audio Only (with the Old Testament Scripture Reading)
“The World is Against You”
This morning, we’re opening to a new section in John’s gospel, where Jesus leaves Galilee, for the
last time, to Jerusalem where he’ll be crucified 6 months later. This is it. He’ll never return to Galilee
again. He’s leaving Galilee for the feast of tabernacles—and, he’ll stay in the Jerusalem area until he
offers himself as a sacrifice at the feast of Passover which occurs 6 months after this feast of
tabernacles. So, you might say we’re opening up to two chapters (John 7-8), wherein Jesus is at the
feast of Tabernacles, and these two chapters open up Jesus’s last 6 months, in which he never
returns to his home in Galilee.
It feels a bit weighty, doesn’t it? This is it. He’s on his way to the cross. We’re in the last 6 months of
his life—and given that Jesus was all-knowing and had a plan, he knew it. He knew he had 6 months
to live, and that becomes ever more evident as the gospels detail the last few days of his life. Jesus
predicts his death, and it happens. So also here, he’s certainly aware that it’s beginning to be crunch
Now, think about this—when people are given 6 months to live, what do they tend to do? If
someone knows they have 6 months, what do they do? Literally, the doctors say “it’s time to get your
affairs in order”. Isn’t that something? We assume that people have affairs that are not in order
which they better get into order. I don’t think we’re just talking about life insurance affairs. I think
doctors and nurses mean, “if you need to make amends with someone, do it now. If there are career
goals you want to achieve—things on your bucket list, do it now, get those affairs in order.” You
have six months.
How does Jesus look, here at this point in his ministry, with six months to go? Are his affairs in
order? He looks beaten, folks. Yes—he has all the cool superpowers that draw in the masses for a
little bit. He even has power over demons and sicknesses—it’s some unchallenged authority, right
there. No one is questioning that. They know what he can do. Although by the looks of it, by
ordinary human standards, I’d say he’s having a rough time. Literally, in the last few weeks of our
study in John (looking back at chapter 6) have been the classic example. He had it all—he had a
massive crowd of upwards to 20,000. He wowed them by multiplying the bread, and feeding them in
the wilderness during the time of the Passover. The people rushed to make him king by force—and, he
escapes. Then, the crowds chase after him to the other side of the sea of Galilee. Seriously folks—
there were other people around Jesus’s time who were claiming to be the Messiah, and this would
have been their heyday. This would have been their golden opportunity. Nobody had gained a
following like this Jesus of Nazareth guy. Then, he had to go run his mouth. “Remember that bread
I multiplied? Yeah, this is what that really means—eat my flesh and drink my blood if you want to
live”. Before he knows it, he has 12 left.
He’s got six months to live—how’s he doing? Does he have affairs to get into order? By worldly
standards, if he’s going to really build a kingdom and make something of himself—absolutely not.
Although, that’s not how he talks. We’ll see in this passage that Jesus talks with absolute confidence,
resolve, and purpose. He’s not afraid. He’s not anxious. In fact, he leaves his home in Galilee, and
goes to Jerusalem entirely on his own terms—and yes, he’s going into hostile territory.
Folks, there is a great lesson on steadfastness and resolve in the faith for us in this passage. What
does it look like to live a life of confidence, fearlessness, and resolve in this world before the
heavenly father? To not be afraid of man? It’s very clear that the world is against Jesus, at this point
in his ministry—and, he’s unmoved by it. Why is that? It reminds me of the story of Athanasius, the
early church father in the 3rd and 4th century who is often called “Athanasius contra mundum”—or,
“Athanasius against the world”. We learned about him in Sunday school a few weeks back. He stood
for God’s truth about Jesus against much difficulty and loss. It seemed he lost the game of life,
miserably. “Athanasius, the world is against you!”, is what his opponents said. We find Jesus in
similar spot, here in John 7—only, Jesus didn’t care. He was in absolute control.
So, what we’re going to do this morning is first consider the world that was against Jesus. We’ll look
at that from three different angles (you can count them as we move along). Then, we’ll consider how
Jesus remains grounded and unmoved by the world. I think it’ll serve us well in a world that is
increasingly hostile to Jesus and his church.
1. The World Murders
Take a look at verse one, where we see our first look at the world being against Jesus. Verse 1,
“After this Jesus went about in Galilee.”
Don’t you love that? After multiplying the loaves and preaching his bread of life sermon, he “went
about in Galilee”—as in, he just walked around and struck up conversations with folks in town. Not
at all. We have the other gospels to confirm that. Jesus was turning the world upside down, in
Galilee. He was breaking Jewish customs and standards. He was completely other-worldly in the way
he handled his affairs—in the way he talked, in the way he healed people, in the way he even touched
unclean people. It drove all the religious Jews crazy.
So, “Jesus went about in Galilee” doing and saying controversial things, then verse 1 tells us “He
would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him.” So, that’s the world’s
persecution Jesus was confronted with every day. The Jews were seeking to kill him.
They were seeking him, folks. They weren’t thinking “well, if he shows up again and we see him, we’ll
deal with him then”. That’s not what we’re talking about. The Jews were seeking to kill him—and,
that was certainly true in Jerusalem. Although, if you look to the other gospels, it was true in Galilee
as well. Remember all the stories wherein the Jews were finding Jesus while he was at work in his
public ministry, and they’d try to catch him in his words? They’d try to trick him? Many of those
stories are occasioned by Jewish representatives who were sent from Jerusalem all the way up to Galilee
in order to trap Jesus. They traveled several days on a manhunt. That’s what we’re talking about,
here, fols. Mark 7 is one example of this, if you wanted to look there another time. Needless to
say—they were scheming. They were searching him out. This was orderly, calculated, murderous
intentions of the first-degree.
Why did they so passionately want him dead? When did this all start? We really don’t need to look to
the other gospels for that, folks. John made that very clear to us already. You could turn back to
John 5 when we first see John mention their murderous plans. This was that story we looked at
several months back, when Jesus healed the lame man in Jerusalem—only, he did it on the Sabbath
(oops). Not only was Jesus doing unlawful, unnecessary work on the Sabbath—but, he was healing
people and telling them to get up and (shh!) pick up their mat! There were laws about that stuff, you
know—picking up your mat on the Sabbath. God would be very displeased with you if you did that.
These Jews had created their own rules, their own religion, in the name of holy and sacred worship
of Yahweh. Only, Yahweh didn’t want it. God’s rules, according to Psalm 19, are righteous and
good and reviving to the soul. God’s rules and laws bring life—they’re restorative. Here, these
Jewish men had created a system wherein a healed man couldn’t pick up his mat and rejoice in the
And the story gets worse. If you remember the story, the man who Jesus healed was more afraid of
the Pharisees than he was of Jesus. He desired the approval of the Pharisees more than the approval
of Jesus. Isn’t that insane? Jesus offers this man life—everything this man ever wanted. The
Pharisees were keeping this man under a horrible system of their laws—and this man wanted their
approval? That’s Jesus’s ministry folks—it’s a ministry to a bunch of sinners who are concerned with
themselves, and keeping their right standing in this fallen and broken world. In our sin, we’ll do
anything for self-protection, self-preservation, self-advancement, and we’ll be willing to sell out Jesus
if that’s what it takes. We’d be willing to sell out Jesus if that means keeping ourselves “safe” in this
world which—by the way, isn’t safe. It’s full of sinful people and broken systems—and unless you
really turn to Jesus, we’ll play a game of self-protection because it’s all we know. It’s all we have. So
this man, not taking a moment to really look at Jesus—he turned Jesus into the Pharisees, and the
Pharisees chomped at the bit. They accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath, even though he did a
kind and most merciful thing on the Sabbath. He healed a man with God’s life-giving blessings on a
day that is designed for resting in God’s blessings. He bestowed God’s healing and rest on a day designed
for enjoying God’s healing and rest. It’s the most natural, sensical thing Jesus could have done on
the Sabbath—that is, unless your concerned with making the Sabbath about your control rather than
God’s life and blessings. These Jews simply couldn’t hand over their control of God’s Sabbath day to
Jesus, even though Jesus was offering sabbath life and blessing. They wanted control, and Jesus was
threatening that with his actions and his words. Jesus didn’t mince his words when asked. He said it
plainly. “My father is working until now, and I am working—whatever the Father does, I do
likewise. That includes offering rest on the Sabbath day”. He’s threatening their power, their control,
their regime. So, chapter 5 verse 18, they threaten him. “This was why the Jews were seeking all the
more to kill him”.
So, Jesus goes to Galilee to avoid further tension with these murderous Jews. It was judgment, really.
The Messiah came, and the Jews wanted to kill him. So, he left for Galilee. He brought his Sabbath
blessings elsewhere—and of course, this only infuriated the Jewish authorities more. Jesus began to
hang out with the unclean people, eating with those north country folk. Anyone claiming to be God
and the Messiah certainly wouldn’t do that.
So again, verse 1, “He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him.”
That’s the world, folks. The Jews are one, clear example of what’s in the heart of all mankind. Paul
makes that connection very clearly in Romans 1–3. The same sin—the same instinct to reject God
for self—is in us all. The instinct of self-preservation, self-protection, self-advancement, self-reliance
is in us all. We want control, and we don’t want to give it to God—and we’d be willing to kill him if
that’s what it takes to keep our own self-autonomy and self-reliance.
That’s evangelism, folks, is it not? Yes, we live in America where people don’t resort to killing and
violence. Although, Americans are becoming increasingly hostile toward Christians. Fifty years ago,
we may have been fearful of evangelizing our friends because we didn’t want to be thought of as
weird or offensive. Today, I think many of us might fear talking about Jesus in public because
someone is going to lose their heads and snap on us. “You cannot continue in that sin (dare I say
homosexuality), and be a Christian who follows Jesus”. If you talk that matter-of-factly, what are you
going to hear? You’re going to hear self-reliance, self-preservation, the pursuit of one’s own control.
And, it’s getting increasingly aggressive. We better be ready for it. We better look to Jesus’s example.
It didn’t move him at all. He was wise—he didn’t stay in Jerusalem and poke the beast. Although, he
leaned in and spoke openly when the time was right—and yes, it led him to the cross. That’s the
world folks. The world murders in pursuit of self-autonomy. That’s in this passage—don’t miss it.
That’s the Jerusalem Jesus is entering as he leaves Galilee here, for the last time.
2. The World Mocks
So, the world murders. It also mocks. That’s in this passage, too. Look at verses 2–5. Again, Jesus is
still in Galilee. Perhaps he’s at his home. I don’t know. He’s with his brothers, and this is what they
2 Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. 3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and
go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. 4 For no one works in
secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.”
Sounds right, doesn’t it? We’ll talk about it more in a second, but this is the feast of booths! This is
the biggest, baddest, most joyful festival in the Jewish calendar! It’s a huge affair, with massive
crowds! Jesus’s brothers knew Jesus was having a hard time retaining a following—they saw what
happened to his crowd of 20,000. The poor guy—he had 20,000 and now he’s got 12. Then again,
yes, that was during the Passover so it was six months back. Jesus has had other followings come
and go—but, the poor guy is really having a hard time getting a steady, faithful following. “Show
yourself to the world, Jesus, this is your great opportunity! We believe in you!” If only it were like
that. Verse 5 makes it very clear that these brothers didn’t believe in Jesus. Verse 5—
5 For not even his brothers believed in him.
That’s why they said this. They said it because they didn’t believe in him. So this is classic brother
stuff, isn’t it? The sarcasm is almost humorous. “Poor guy, go to the festival—come with us, we’ll
help you gain your following”. It’s painful. It’s mockery. It’s humiliating and condescending. James,
the brother of our Lord, who wrote the epistle in our Bible, spoke to Jesus like this.
At the same time, what they’re saying is sound advice from a worldly perspective. If Jesus were
looking for a following—for fame and recognition through his miracles, just as any other worldly
person might—this would have been the place to do it.
The feast of tabernacles, folks, was a massive ordeal. It was in the seventh month of their calendar—
which was also the month when they’d celebrate a new year. It’s a bit confusing to our brains. We
tend to think “the new year obviously starts on the first month of the calendar. When we get to the
twelfth and final month, we start the calendar over and tick the year ahead to the next year”. Not so
with the Jews. They have twelve months—the first month is Nissan, and that’s the month wherein
they celebrate Passover. So, they root their calendar in their story. They began as a nation in the
month of Nissan, so the first month of their calendar is Nissan. So, they celebrate the birth of their
nation on the first month of the calendar, not the birth of a new year. It’s a very God-glorifying
calendar. “We don’t celebrate the new year in the first month, but God making us a new nation
through the Passover”. Then, 50 days later, they celebrate Pentecost. Then, in the seventh month,
right after they celebrate the new year at the feast of trumpets, they would throw the feast of booths
Now, why does that all matter? It matters because this feast which Jesus’s brothers are pressing Jesus
with is a feast of fulfillment. The feast of tabernacles is a feast of fulfillment. It’s celebrated on the
seventh month—and it’s the final feast of the year. It’s the conclusion of another year—and, it
celebrates bounty. It’s kicked off with the feast of trumpets only a few weeks prior, signaling God’s
victory. It’s paired with the grape and olive harvest—so, we’re talking rich, wonderful harvests of
grapes and olives (not just humble barley and wheat). This is a feast of fulfillment, culmination,
abundance, on the seventh month. In this feast, the Jews would celebrate how far God has taken
them, and they’d look ahead to where God might lead them. It was a great time of anticipation in
Israel at the turn of the new year. You might call it an annual Ebenezer moment—“here I raise my
ebenezer, hither by thy grace I’ve come, and may it be so another year”. So, they’d be celebrating
that, even as they’d festively live in make-shift structures of light branches and leaves to live in for a
week. If you were a resident in Jerusalem, you’d make the structure of branches on top of your roof,
and live there for the week. You’d be acting out how the Jews lived as they were being delivered
from Egypt and led into the wilderness. Yes, they were living in makeshift huts. Although, they were
rich with God’s blessings—rich with his provisions, his salvation. “Thus far God has led us, and
we’re rich”. Think about it—as the Jews lived in huts, on their way out of Egypt, they were carrying
with them the riches of Egypt which they had plundered. It’s the start of a new year, new
beginnings, and they’re rich.
That’s a way to begin the new year, isn’t it? It’s an amazing toast to the king. One commentator said
“the feast was one of the most expensive and lavish [feasts] of the year”.
So, is this not the perfect time for Jesus to step in and do his miracles? He could wow the crowds
with serious riches—you know, perhaps like he did with the wine at the wedding at Cana? He could
do it, you know—start the new year off with serious riches and blessings, a new kingdom, a new
Messiah, a new golden age of Israel. It’s perfect.
It’s also a perfect opportunity to mock Jesus. “Ah, Jesus—leave here and go to Judea, that your
disciples also may see the works you are doing... If you do these things, show yourself to the
world.” Go make yourself royalty at this lavish festival, with all the people. They’d be eager to crown
If only they knew, folks. Jesus does take advantage of a feast, and the Jewish calendar. He does reveal
his glory—although, not at the feast of tabernacles. He does it at the Passover six months later, and
he does it by sacrificing himself as the Passover lamb—and yes, he was being mocked. The crown of
thorns, the banter and shame and nakedness. “He saved others, let him save himself!” (Luke 23:35),
so the people said to Jesus hanging on the cross. He was mocked, folks—and yet, totally unmoved
in his purpose. His affairs, you might say, were completely in order. His kingdom was built on his
atoning blood and righteousness.
We’ve seen that the world murders, and the world mocks. One more—the world misunderstands.
3. The World Misunderstands
The world misunderstands, folks. Look again with me at verses 10–13,
10 But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in
So, Jesus does end up going—which may cause you to wonder about what he said earlier to his
brothers. Earlier, he said he’s not going to the feast—yet here he is. Did he lie? We’ll address that in a
moment. For now, just see that he’s at the feast, and he’s there not publicly, but in private. Now, keep
reading in verse 11, where we’ll see what he discovers at the feast.
11 The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” 12 And there was
much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others
said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” 13 Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of
Isn’t that something? Jesus shows up at the feast—yes, in hiding—and he discovers that he’s the talk
of the town. They were looking for him—verse 12, “there was much muttering about him among the
people”. The word “muttering” there is a special word referring to discreet whispers. It’s almost a
comical picture. The Jews were trying to snuff him out—find him and kill him. Meanwhile, everyone
is overwhelmingly intrigued and soaking it all in. It was the drama—the entertainment—of the feast.
‘When is he going to show up? Who do you think he is?”
The opinions were about as broad as you see them today. Either—“he was good”, or “he was evil”.
Although, notice that neither of those options is “he’s the Messiah, the savior of the world”. No one
is going there. Either “he’s good—a good man, a good prophet, I don’t know, but he’s good”. Or,
“not at all, you can’t say he’s good. He’s claiming to be equal with God, and to be the Messiah. He’s
a deceiver, he’s leading people astray”.
It fits with what we read about just before Peter confesses Jesus to be the Christ. Remember that
conversation? I’ve always found it intriguing. Jesus asks his disciples, “who do people say that I
am?”. They tell him, ‘John the baptist, others say Elijah, and others one of the prophets”—so, that’s
filling out what people meant by “he’s a good man”. If you don’t think he’s a deceiver, lleading
people astray, then you think he’s John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets.
The only problem is, he’s never claimed to be any of those people. He’s said what he’s said—he’s
the Son of God. He’s the Savior of the world, the Messiah. That’s what all those miracles mean.
Only, the people just won’t go there. Why not?
They’re misunderstanding Jesus—and, to a degree that’s painful to see. That’s how it feels talking
about Jesus to people in the world, folks. People have all kinds of opinions and thoughts about
Jesus. They have the strangest interpretations of the Bible. We live in a world of self-autonomous
religion. Self-reliant Christianity, and therefore (often) a self-glorifying and self-affirming Jesus.
“He’s a good man, he’ll accept anyone no matter who they are—no need to talk about repentance or
that bloody cross stuff. Jesus is that inner good inside of all of us.” Sadly, that’s the picture many
people in our world today have of Jesus. He’s there to serve them—oh, and yes, it’s the exact same
mistake the crowds made who were demanding to make Jesus their king and affirm their purposes
for him. What does Jesus do to those people? He speaks truth to them, and they walk away. “Eat
me, eat my flesh—abide in me through repentance and faith. It’s the only way you’ll live.”
Folks, the whole world is against Jesus in this passage—they’re out to murder him, mock him, and
even misunderstand him. He’s got 6 months to live and fulfill the kingdom of God. It’s not looking
good for him, by any ordinary standard. The truth is, Jesus doesn’t care. He’s unmoved by it. Let’s
4. Jesus Doesn’t Care (He’s Unmoved)
Look back at verse 6, and consider how Jesus responded to his brothers. What he says, here, says it
all. It’s meat for the soul, folks—it’s instructions for the unmoved, motivated, solid Christian. Verse
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 about it that its works are evil. 8 You go up
to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.”
Those are fighting words, right there, folks. Jesus’s brothers just sarcastically told him to go to the
feast—this great and awesome feast which truly would have been an opportunity for him to make a
name for himself. So, he responds and basically says “I don’t take orders from you. The time my
Father appointed for me to leave Galilee is not yet come. My time to establish the kingdom is not
yet come. I go on my own accord, in accordance with God’s will, on my own timing, for my own
purposes—and yes, that means I go in secret.” Whatever Jesus is doing, here, he’s not establishing a
worldly kingdom by any sense of the term. He’s seeking to honor his Father, and establish his
kingdom by dying at the proper time—even at the feast of the passover six months later.
Remember, folks, we’re talking about Jesus’s final departure from Galilee to Jerusalem. This is a
significant departure. We are seeing, here, that Jesus goes out of his way not to even appear like he’s
taking advice from his brothers or anyone else. They say “come now to the feast, and do your things
openly rather than in private”. He waits. He come later—and, I would hardly even say he went to
the feast. That’s one way around the whole “Jesus lying” question in this passage. He said “I am not
going up to the feast” (verse 8). When he went in verse 10, it just says “Jesus went up”—and, he
didn’t go publicly as his brothers suggested. He didn’t go when his brothers suggested. He went
privately, and nowhere do we see that he is actively participating in the feast. Maybe we see it on the
last day of the feast in verse 37, but even there I have questions. Jesus shows up in Jerusalem
sometime during the feast—in his own timing, and he does it privately—all in contradiction to his
brothers’ suggestions. I think that’s what he was getting at. “You go up to the feast, I’m not going to
the feast (at least, not with you, and not right now, and not publicly, and I’m not participating
because its not my time yet to be glorified. My time is at the lambs’ slaughter 6 months later)”.
Where does Jesus get such confidence and resolve? Again, verses 6–7,
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 about it that its works are evil.
Jesus is making a statement about the world, here. He’s saying that the world cannot hate his
brothers—so, if his brothers can go to the feast and want to speak up in any way, they can. They’ll
be accepted. The world cannot hate them. Why is that? Why can’t the world hate Jesus’s brothers?
Quite simply, Jesus is saying that his brothers are worldly. Jesus is making a statement, here, about
loyalties and citizenship. His brothers are worldly, and accepted by the world.
What about him? He’s not accepted, we’ve established that. He says, “because I testify about it that
its works are evil”. That was Jesus’s ministry. “Repent and believe. You need salvation. You need to
eat my flesh and drink my blood, otherwise you have no life in you. You’re dead, sinful, rejected by
God, your works are evil”. That’s Jesus’s ministry—and yes, a call to salvation is a testimony that
someone is evil. It’s a personal affront—and that’s why it’s always terrifying to tell people about
Jesus. You’re telling them they are evil, born in sin, and need a savior.
It’s a bit scary at times, isn’t it? It’s a bit scary to confront your own sin, isn’t it? “No, I don’t want to
expose that—it’ll tarnish my reputation, my family, my job. It’ll just make me uncomfortable to talk
about it. That’s hard to do—much less telling someone else about their sin and evil”.
What do you suppose moved Jesus to be so radical in this—so fearless? The reason for his
fearlessness is the same reason for why he was hated. He’s not of this world. That’s it, isn’t it? we are
hated because we are not of this world—and yet, we find strength and comfort and boldness
because we’re not of this world. We belong to heaven—to God! Jesus made that possible for you,
folks, and he gave you the example! There is great blessing in forsaking this world, even as it might
murder and mock and misunderstand you. Belonging to the Father is worth it. ‘23 When he was
reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting
himself to him who judges justly.” He entrusted himself to the Father, the heaven itself—that was
his strength and life. It’s also yours.
Folks, Jesus saved you from this world, your sin, and God’s wrath. So, serve him fearlessly. Be a
Christian contra-mundum—against the world—like Athanasius. The world will hate you, and so be it.
You belong to God, safeguarded in the blood and righteousness and eternal blessings of Jesus.
When Athanasius was told, “Athanasius, the whole world is against you”, Athanasius responded
“then I am against the whole world”. That’s right—and, the only way you’ll say that completely and
without qualification is if you belong to the new world, Jesus’s kingdom, by faith. So, as the world
murders, mocks and misunderstands us as it did Jesus—so be it. Like Jesus, we can find boldness
and comfort in knowing that, in Jesus’s salvation and security, we who believe belong to heaven.