Jesus & the Feast
"'You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.' After saying this, he remained in Galilee. But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private" (Jn. 7:8-10).
It is alleged that Jesus was duplicitous about His intentions regarding the feast, thus (so the reasoning goes) it's okay for us to tell "white lies" and "half-truths."
Well, let's look again at the context.
Unbelievers charge Christ with dishonesty here because of His response to His half-brothers (Matt. 13:55; Jn. 2:12). John reveals that, at this point, Jesus' brothers did not yet believe in Him (Jn 7:5), and urged (read taunted) Him to "go to the feast" of tabernacles.
His brothers' rationale? “So that your disciples also may see the works that you are doing” (Jn. 7:3). They shored up their argument saying, "For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world" (Jn. 7:4).
Jesus responds, "My time has not yet come" (Jn. 7:6), and then rebukes them: “The world hates Me because I testify that its works are evil. The world cannot hate you” (Jn. 7:7). In other words, "You haven't the courage to follow me and acknowledge the Truth as evidenced by your relation to the world.”
Then the alleged duplicity comes in vv. 8-10 regarding Jesus intentions to go to the feast.
First, the issue was not whether Christ would go to the feast. That was never in doubt. Why? The Feast of Tabernacles was one of three annual feasts Jewish males were required by Law to attend (Deut. 16:16-17). Jesus kept the Law perfectly.
Second, His unbelieving half-brothers were daring Him to do what they believed He could not do––put His powers on full display as an exhibitionist. However, the Gospel reveals that Jesus, in His wisdom, chose discretion when performing miracles (Matt. 8:4; 16:20; Mk. 8:30; 9:9; Lk. 9:21); He had no desire to excite attention and parade Himself through towns until His "time had come." When others failed to follow His instructions, it was detrimental: "...so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places" (Mk. 1:45).
So the issue was the manner in which Jesus would go to the feast. It simply was not His time to go in an open, demonstrative way (Jn. 7:8). Going up “in secret" means Jesus refused to bow to his brothers’ challenge to make a spectacle of Himself at the feast.
“Going to Judea was used in two different senses. The brothers challenged him to go openly (flamboyantly)—which he refused to do (v. 4). On the other hand, consistent with His own purpose and schedule, He would not presently go in that fashion; rather, for the time being, He simply would go secretly (v. 10)."––Wayne Jackson
Cynics trying to find deception in this text, and Christians trying to justify duplicity must look elsewhere. They will find neither in Christ.