Wisdom Devotionals

A House Divided

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Therefore His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” For not even His brothers were believing in Him. John 7:3-5

This is a penetrating portion of John’s gospel, and it gives us insight into a significant way Jesus can relate to many of us today. 

John introduces us to Jesus’ brothers, and he adds that tragic little addendum, “not even his brothers were believing in Him.” 

Imagine what Jesus’ home-life must have been like. Mary is considered a fornicator by society—a title she never lives down—and it seems that even her own children are rolling their eyes  at her virgin-birth story. If there was ever a house divided against itself, it is this house. 

Look at the two accusations Jesus’ brothers make in verse 4. First, they say to Him, “No one does anything in secret, when he himself seeks to be known publically.” In other words, “Jesus, we know You just want the spotlight.”  This is a cut at His motives.

Later, in verse 4, they pour more salt in the wound by saying, “If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” That’s another way of saying, “Jesus, if You really are the Son of God, why don’t you prove it?” 

Perhaps you can identify in some way with our Lord here. Are there people in your family who think you’re a little crazy for believing in Jesus? Do they say things like, “If God is real, why doesn’t He answer prayers? Why did He let me get cancer? Why doesn’t He reveal Himself?”

There is almost nothing more emotionally painful than being rejected and maligned by your own family members. But Jesus, here, teaches us how to respond in the midst of day-to-day familial persecution.

First, He doesn’t retaliate.

Jesus could have pointed the finger at His brother James and said, “James, I know that dirty thought you had yesterday. I know that unkind word you said last week to the neighbor. You’re saying I’m a hypocrite? Well, let me expose your hypocrisy!” But He didn’t. 

Meekness is a spiritual discipline. It runs counter to our nature, but it is an obvious identifier that we belong to Christ. “The gentle shall inherit the earth,” Jesus said in Matthew 5:5. Peter reminds us that a gentle spirit is beautiful in the sight of God (1 Peter 3:4), and even capable of winning an unbelieving spouse to Christ. 

When your family listens to you speak and watches your actions, do they hear and see a meek person? More importantly, does God?  

Notice a second aspect of Jesus’ example. Jesus didn’t debate the futility of his brothers’ religiosity. You’d think He would have taken a moment to condemn their Judaism. You’d think He would have shown them how their trip to Jerusalem couldn’t make them right with God. But instead He encourages them to go to the feast that He Himself had come to fulfill!

Now, I’m not suggesting from this passage that you don’t preach to that unbelieving son, daughter, spouse, or cousin. I’m simply reminding you of the inherent, divinely-inspired power of meekness. 

Witness to others in winsome ways. Witness to them patiently, remembering that “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger“ (Proverbs 15:1).