John 7:1-5 (Pretense)

invisible pretense

After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” For even his brothers didn’t believe in him. (John 7:1-5)

Read: 1 Kings 8:54 – 9:14, 2 Chronicles 7:1-22

Relate: More than anything, the emperor loved the adulation of the crowds. Because he loved to be seen and praised by others he took up every pretense possible to be at the head of another parade. Two weavers came before this emperor with a promise, “We will make you the greatest, most beautiful set of clothing to ever be worn by a mortal. What is more, the cloth with which we will use to make this outfit is magical. This cloth can only be seen by the worthy. Anyone who is unfit for their position in life or anyone who is horrendously stupid will be unable to see this cloth.” The emperor was intrigued and requested to view this cloth. To his horror, when it was presented to him, he was unable to see it. This emperor was too proud to admit that he was unworthy to rule so he pretended to see this cloth and commissioned the set to be made. What is worse, his entire court was there, saw this cloth, and agreed that a new suit should be made.

What the emperor did not know was that each individual in his court was hiding his own horror at being found out. Each one was unable to see the cloth and knew deep down inside that they were not fit for their position on the court. The problem is, they saw how everyone else was reacting and did not want their unworthiness to be noticed by others. Everybody was playing a great big game of make believe while thinking that they were the only ones playing.

Notice of the parade was published throughout the land. Everyone far and wide heard of this magical new cloth that would only be visible to the worthy. They all heard how only the unworthy or the horribly stupid would be unable to see it and that the emperor himself would be showing off this cloth in (yet another) parade on the designated day. On that day, there he was, strutting like a peacock while as naked as a jaybird for all to see. Inwardly each person in the crowd was horrified at the truth that they were unworthy while everyone else around them awed and admired the emperor’s new clothes. Of course everyone was hoping someone else would give them a better description so that they could take it and run with it, but all anybody said was vague compliments like “beautiful”, “amazing”, and “extravagant”. The only accurate description was given by a young child who pointed and said what everyone else was thinking but not daring to say: “Look! The emperor is naked!”

React: Jesus’s siblings didn’t believe in Him. Yes, they saw and were excited about the miracles, but they didn’t deep down believe that He was the Messiah, come to save the world. Oh, they made a pretense of believing and vomited out some advice right along with the best of them. “You should become famous. Show off Your miracles. Go where the people are.” If Jesus was all about being famous it probably wouldn’t have been bad advice. But his brothers just didn’t get it. At least… not yet.

I find that it is skeptics who are keeping up a pretense who are often the best at giving bad advice. Maybe “bad” advice is the wrong word. Enthusiastic might be better. Those that most energetically cheer you on are either true, sold out believers or those keeping a pretense but don’t want to be exposed. Have I been guilty of this? When I am offering encouragement or advice, is it real? Does it come from the heart and a desire to see the best in another? Or am I just keeping up a pretense?


God, I would rather be real than be enthusiastic. In my conversation with others, in my praise, encouragement, and advice, let it come from the heart. Give me such a heart of love and a passion for truth that everything I speak to everyone I meet would contain both. Be glorified in what I say and in the advice I give.

One thought on “John 7:1-5 (Pretense)

  1. While I have been “too real” with people, when being real was more important than being enthusiastic, people did not appreciate my lack of enthusiasm and saw my being real as being far too critical. I really have to pray about things; especially when I am asked to do a review of a book or assess writing skills. I’d rather be honest than allow them to be exposed for their lack of skills.

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