HOW JESUS’ BROTHERS VIEW HIM
HOW IMPORTANT IS KINGDOM SERVICE?
For some time, Jesus has confined his activity mainly to Galilee, where he has found a better response than in Judea. Besides, when he was in Jerusalem and healed a man on the Sabbath, “the Jews began seeking all the more to kill him.”
It is now the autumn of 32 C.E., and the Festival of Tabernacles (or, Booths) is near. This festival is celebrated for seven days, followed by a solemn assembly on the eighth day. The festival marks the end of the agricultural year and is a time of great rejoicing and thanksgiving.
Jesus’ half brothers
Actually, these four brothers are “not exercising faith in him” as the Messiah. Yet, they want those gathered at the festival to see him do some powerful works. Jesus, aware of the danger, tells them: “The world has no reason to hate you, but it hates me, because I bear witness about it that its works are wicked. You go up to the festival; I am not yet going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.”
Some days after Jesus’ brothers depart with the main body of travelers, Jesus and his disciples go secretly, out of the public eye. They take the more direct route through Samaria, rather than the common one near the Jordan River. Jesus and his disciples will need accommodations in Samaria, so he sends messengers ahead to make preparations. The people in one place refuse to welcome them or show ordinary hospitality because Jesus is heading for Jerusalem for the Jewish festival. James and John angrily ask: “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven and annihilate them?” (Luke 9:54) Jesus rebukes them for even suggesting that, and they travel on.
While on the road, a scribe says to Jesus: “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus responds: “Foxes have dens and birds of heaven have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay down his head.” (Matthew 8:19, 20) He is pointing out that the scribe will experience hardship if he becomes Jesus’ follower. And it seems that the scribe is too proud to accept this mode of life. Each of us, thus, can ask, ‘How willing am I to follow Jesus?’
To another man, Jesus says: “Be my follower.” The man replies: “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” Knowing the man’s circumstances, Jesus says: “Let the dead bury their dead, but you go and declare abroad the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:59, 60) The father evidently has not yet died. If he had, it is unlikely that his son would be here talking with Jesus. The son is not prepared to put the Kingdom of God first in his life.
As they move down the road toward Jerusalem, another man tells Jesus: “I will follow you, Lord, but first permit me to say good-bye to those in my household.” Jesus answers: “No man who has put his hand to a plow and looks at the things behind is well-suited for the Kingdom of God.”
Those who want to be Jesus’ true disciples must have their eyes focused on Kingdom service. If the plowman does not keep looking straight ahead, a furrow will likely become crooked. If he sets the plow down in order to see what is behind, the work in the field will fall behind. Similarly, anyone who looks behind at this old system of things may well stumble off the road leading to eternal life.