After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish* to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him. 2Now the Jewish festival of Booths* was near. 3So his brothers said to him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; 4for no one who wants* to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.’ 5(For not even his brothers believed in him.) 6Jesus said to them, ‘My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil. 8Go to the festival yourselves. I am not* going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.’ 9After saying this, he remained in Galilee.
10 But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were* in secret. 11The Jews were looking for him at the festival and saying, ‘Where is he?’ 12And there was considerable complaining about him among the crowds. While some were saying, ‘He is a good man’, others were saying, ‘No, he is deceiving the crowd.’ 13Yet no one would speak openly about him for fear of the Jews.
You see, the passage about healing on the Sabbath, in Jerusalem, and the resulting anger among the religious leaders, fits better after chapter 6 than before – that is why some scholars think it belongs here. As a reminder, from chapter 5, the religious leaders in Jerusalem were angry with Jesus for having healed the man at the pool of Bethsaida on the Sabbath day, and having told him to carry his mat home. After that, Jesus returned to Galilee and remained there for some time, preaching and teaching and healing in that region.
But now, Jesus’ brothers taunt him – they do not really believe in him, the author tells us. They are going to the Festival of Booths (or Feast of Tabernacles) in Jerusalem, and they tell Jesus he should come along. This festival was a joyous time celebrating both the harvest and the wilderness journey of the people of Israel. It would be a party! And a time for Jesus to make himself known. Why are you doing these things in secret? they ask Jesus – go to Jerusalem and show yourself to the world. Now, not just the crowd and the “Jews” (religious leaders) are demanding “a sign” from Jesus; it seems that his own brothers are demanding a sign.
But Jesus knows that those religious leaders in Jerusalem are seeking to kill him, and he tells his brothers his time has not yet come; by his time he is speaking of the time for his arrest and crucifixion. Their time is always here; their time is of the world, for they live in and for the world. He tells them that the world cannot hate them, but hates him, speaking of the anathema of those in power.
And yet, after his brothers have gone, Jesus does go to Jerusalem, but secretly. The religious leaders were looking for him; the “crowd” was expressing different opinions, some saying he was good, others that he was deceiving them. Yet, none of “the crowd” would speak openly about him, for they feared the religious leaders. Notice how the author has set up the situation – to show the coming conflict. There are the religious leaders, waiting, looking for Jesus – there are the crowd, wafting back and forth in opinion – and Jesus is secretly watching and listening, choosing his time. And so, the story continues