Summary: Often times where someone comes from or how they sound alters how we hear them. This was the case for those hearing Jesus. But if you really listen to his words they do deeper than you can image.
You’ve heard the ad "People judge you by the words you use. To make a powerful impression you need a powerful vocabulary. You need Verbal Advantage." Though this is true I think we also judge people by how they say words and where they come from. We hear an accent in someone and we think "Deep South" or "Canada" or "Middle East" and each of these brings a set of preconceptions with it. This happened to Jesus as well.
John 7 is about battling with preconceptions and the opinions of others and whether you really listen to what Jesus says and let his words go deeply into your soul. Jesus in this chapter wrestles with his brothers prejudice, the crowd’s ever changing ideas, and the Pharisee’s increasing hatred-all the while patiently telling people to leave all that garbage behind and listen to the promise of eternal life and eternal satisfaction-to listen to his words because they will no only leave a powerful impression they are the keys to finding eternal life.
1 - 2
From first reading this you might think that Jesus was afraid. That is not the case at all. Jesus knew that he would die on a cross and knew when that was to happen. Nothing anyone could do, whether human or demon could change that. I think the main reason Jesus avoided Nazareth is that the Jewish leaders were making it very difficult for him to work. Jesus was not there to provoke a fight, he was there to share God’s truth and die when it was time, so he focuses on the Galilee region.
The Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-43) celebrated God’s provision of water, and His presence among them (the pillar of fire). This is a perfect opportunity for Jesus to proclaim His presence among them and his gift to them (of the Holy Spirit, which he describes in verse 38 as "living water").
3 - 5
These were his blood half brothers through Mary. They did not believe that he was the Messiah until after the resurrection. It sure sounds like the taunting of siblings to me. "If you are so great smarty pants than just go up and show yourself openly. You’re just chicken!" Look what Jesus says:
6 - 9
Jesus tells his brothers that they were free to do as they wish, but he was on a mission from the Father and could only do what he was commanded to do by Him. They belonged to the world, they were infected with the terminal disease of sin, so the world system run by sin would not reject them. But when you start talking about the endemic evil in the human soul of course that is going to spark a bad reaction-"hate" Jesus calls it.
10 - 13
Jesus brothers wanted him to proclaim himself openly as the Messiah-not because they believed but perhaps to put him in his place. They didn’t know then that Jesus would do just that in chapter 12. But he does go to the feast. Jesus ministry is not in secret but it is His ministry, not ours to dictate.
By this time there was a great deal of interest in Jesus. He was in all the tabloids and the gossip (murmering) ran rampant about who this guy could be. I think they too wanted him to declare himself openly, perhaps have a show down with the Pharisees. Jesus won’t be manipulated by them either. Public opinion would also not determine who Jesus was. If Jesus had come today you’d have polls on the news: "today’s Gallop poll shows that 35% of Jews at the Feast think Jesus is a good man while 37% feel his influence is negative. Jesus had no comment on the poll." By the way, the Jews were very frightened of the consequences of speaking about Jesus. They could be excommunicated from the synagogue, a very serious punishment.
14 - 18
Finally Jesus puts all the murmuring to rest. He goes to a very public part of the Temple and starts teaching. The people marvel because Jesus doesn’t have a PhD (he didn’t go to Rabbi school).
Look what he says here: "if anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority." Jesus comes back to this over and over-this idea that if the condition of your heart is a desire to know God then God will speak to you and witness to you that Jesus is Lord. In chapter 8 he’ll say "if you abide in my word you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free." You don’t have to understand every little bit about Jesus, but just have a soft heart towards him and let his words "abide" in you.