Summary: Jesus divides the world with truth and righteousness and warns that He and His followers will be hated for it.
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: 52For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. 53The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law (Lk. 12:51-53).
“Division” pretty well sums up the life of Christ and the book of John. He’s already lost most of His disciples and He’s made some of the Jewish leaders mad enough to kill Him. Starting in chapter 13 Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, teaches, and then the trial and crucifixion begin. So everything from chapters 7-12 builds up to that and they are almost nothing but conflict. It’s conflict with His brothers, conflict with the leaders, conflict between the leaders and the people over Him, conflict between the leaders and the leaders over Him: “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division.”
And this is why chapter seven begins this way:
After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.
“Jewry” just means “Judea.” Israel had been divided into northern and southern kingdoms after the reign of Solomon. Galilee and Samaria were parts of the northern kingdom. Eventually it was captured by the Assyrians (II Kings 15:29; 17:3-6). Lots of Jews were deported and lots of Gentiles were brought in to stay. The southern kingdom later fell to the Babylonians but they were all deported to Babylon and then 70 years later all returned. The result, as you can imagine, was very different cultures between the north and south. In Galilee they were a mixed population and they weren’t quite as zealous. They were a little more tolerant. They didn’t want to kill Jesus just because He healed a man on the Sabbath. The Jews in the south were strict and legal. They had been to Babylon and they weren’t going back. So Jesus could walk more freely in Galilee than He could in Judea where He was wanted for breaking the Sabbath and making Himself equal with God (5:18).
2Now the Jew’s feast of tabernacles was at hand.
The feast of tabernacles requires Jesus to make a trip to Jerusalem which is right in the heart of Judea.
3His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. 4For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. 5For neither did his brethren believe in him.
His brothers (James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas; Mt. 13:55) are antagonistic towards Him and probably wouldn’t mind seeing Him handed over to the authorities. They try to bait Him into going by playing to pride. If He’s ever going to be known for such a great miracle worker He can’t sit around the house waiting for something to happen; He’s got to get around and show off.
This is probably also a jab at how He’s done managing the number of His disciples. He ran most of them off with the truth so now they want Him to prove Himself again “that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest.”
6Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready.
He had a specific moment when He would go to the feast but they could go any time.
7The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. 8Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast: for my time is not yet full come.
The world loves those who are just like it and that is why His brothers are so right at home. The world hates Him however because He testifies of it. That is, He announces that its works are evil:
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God (Jn. 3:19-20).
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 4Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 5They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error (I Jn. 4:1-6).