Many years ago when I lived in Mobile, Alabama, a friend of mine asked me to go with him to a tent revival. I had never heard of the speaker, nor did I have any real desire to attend the services, but my friend was my friend, so off we went. When we walked into the tent area, there was a smaller entrance tent before the actual big tent where the services were being held. In this smaller tent, there were tables where you could buy some of the books written by the speaker, as well as tape sets of his previous sermons, etc. However, just past the tables with the books, the speaker was sitting in a shiny suit at a table signing 8×10 glossy pictures of himself, like a movie or stage star would. After seeing this, my friend and I looked at each other and without saying a word turned around and walked back to our car.
One of the reasons that the sight of this speaker autographing photos spoke so strongly to us was that we had just been studying the book of John chapters 7 and 8 because we were preparing to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. In John chapter 7, we find Yeshua (Jesus) and His brothers preparing to travel to Jerusalem for the Feast of Sukkot or Tabernacles, an 8-day celebration that takes place each Fall. Tabernacles is a harvest festival of thanksgiving, in which all the men of Israel were to travel to Jerusalem (with their families if they were able to) and bring thanksgiving offerings to the Temple.
As they prepared to make their trip, we read of a short conversation between Yeshua and His disciples.
2 Now the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near. 3 Therefore His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go to Judea, so Your disciples also may see the works You are doing. 4 No one who wants to be well known does everything in secret. If You are doing these things, show Yourself to the world!” 5 For not even His brothers were trusting in Him.
Notice in verse 3, His brothers tell him that He needs to go to Jerusalem – not so He could observe the Feast, and not so that He could bring offerings to the Temple. No, they wanted Yeshua to go to Judea (Jerusalem) so that His disciples could see the works He was doing. In other words, they wanted Yeshua to go to Jerusalem so He could perform miracles, signs, and wonders. Why did they want Him to do this? Verse 4 answers this question plainly. Because they wanted Yeshua to become well known and famous. “Show yourself to the world,” they said.
If verse 4 didn’t reveal a big enough problem in the hearts of Yeshua’s brothers, the text doesn’t stop there; it goes on in verse 5 to inform us that Yeshua’s very own brothers didn’t yet trust in Him. To understand the significance of these words, notice that we are not talking about a conversation between Yeshua and the twelve disciples. This is a conversation between Yeshua and His actual brothers. His brothers were more concerned with Yeshua’s fame than they were concerned about His message. They didn’t want Yeshua to go to the Temple to share about the coming Kingdom; they wanted Yeshua to go to the Temple so He could perform miracles and become a star. They were trusting in the works He was doing, but not the message He was sharing.
As we read on, Yeshua sends His brothers to Jerusalem ahead of Him so He can enter secretly without any fanfare or notoriety. It was these words found in John 7:16-18 that my friend and I thought of when we walked out of that tent that night.
16 Yeshua answered, “My teaching is not from Me, but from Him who sent Me. 17 If anyone wants to do His will, he will know whether My teaching comes from God or it is Myself speaking. 18 Whoever speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
Nothing Yeshua said or did was to focus attention on Himself. Every miracle, every sign, and every wonder was a huge neon lighted sign pointing directly at our Heavenly Father, as an example to those who would carry His message of the Kingdom after His time had come, you and I.
There is a popular saying today: “It ain’t all about you.” But, the truth is that it isn’t that it ain’t all about us. It is supposed to never be about us. It is all about Him. The moment we walked into that tent and saw that it wasn’t all about G-D, we knew it wasn’t for us. As we read these words from John’s writing, what should grip our hearts is that even Yeshua’s very own brothers got caught up in this trap.