The Life of the Lord Jesus Christ

By Johann Peter Lange

Edited by Rev. Marcus Dods






Section XIV

the private journey of Christ through Galilee, and the exhortation of his brethren that he should step out of this concealment by taking part in the approaching pilgrimage to the feast. his rejection of their advice, and secret journey to Jerusalem

(Mat 17:22-23. Mar 9:30-32. Joh 7:1-10)

After our Lord, in the mountains near the sources of the Jordan, had brought the disciples to the decision that they would belong to Him and follow Him even in opposition to the sentiments and leanings of the people, and had thereby laid the first foundation of His New Testament Church in opposition to the Jewish, He could calmly go to meet the risk of death which threatened Him everywhere, both in Judea and in Galilee. But nevertheless He found it necessary meanwhile to exercise the greatest caution in openly showing Himself in Galilee. He would therefore seem, in all probability, to have avoided the ordinary way back over the sea, and to have betaken Himself in returning to His home by a considerable detour through Upper Galilee. To this the expression in Mark seems to point: ‘They went past,’ or ‘went by’ (παρεπορεύοντο), ‘through Galilee;’ an expression which has, not without reason, been also taken to mean,1 that Jesus did not now, as He commonly did, travel along the public roads, but through small by-roads and field-paths. If the sense be determined thus, then Galilee would seem also to be taken in its stricter sense, as meaning Upper Galilee. As they avoided going over the sea, and went round the sea, it must have been through Upper Galilee that they travelled. By these circuits, as they travelled through Galilee crossing their own path (ἀναστρεφωμένων αὐτῶν, Matt. ver. 22), it would of course come to pass that they did not remain on the main road, but were obliged to choose more solitary ways by mountain, wood, and field. To this pitch had matters come in respect to Jesus’ safety in Galilee. That He kept His route as secret as possible, the Evangelist Mark further remarks expressly (ver. 30). It suited His views that He should preserve His life, which He had in spirit given up to His Father from the beginning, as much as possible from secret plots, for the purpose of giving it up to His nation and the whole world, and that He might fall as the sacrifice of expiation for the world, at the right hour and in the right place.

On this journey He again said to them quite distinctly, that He looked forward to be ‘delivered into the hands of men,’ to be ‘rejected’ in the judicial courts of men, and to be ‘executed,’ and that ‘He should rise again on the third day.’ The Evangelist Luke, in another connection, has already described to us the impression which this disclosure made upon the disciples. They were ‘made very sad,’ but not in the sense of implicit resignation to the pain which the clear expectation of Jesus’ death might have occasioned them. The word itself pained them in an extraordinary manner. It ever afresh called forth in their minds the feeling of dejection.

And ‘even His brethren believed not on Him.’ They could no longer endure that He should go about in such concealment, whilst they thought that He might with the happiest results show Himself in Judea, and even in Jerusalem itself; they considered that He had there, no doubt, powerful friends; that there His cause must be decided in His favour. Moreover, just now the feast of Tabernacles, which the Jews celebrated in autumn, was near, and all the world was addressing itself to the journey to Jerusalem. Now, they thought, it was doubly His duty that He should attach Himself to the train of pilgrims; that He should go forward, leaving this retirement in Galilee, and in Jerusalem show His glory in His works before the eyes of His disciples, particularly of the powerful among the Jews who reverenced Him. ‘No man,’ they said, ‘dealeth in secret, if he wishes to stand in public recognition. Since Thou doest such things, Thou must manifest Thyself to the world.’ Now when John says that ‘even these brethren had not believed in Him,’ it has been already shown that here he cannot be speaking of a hostile disbelief. (See above, Book II. ii. 13.) They were far from meaning to ridicule Him. His miracles they evidently acknowledged; of His authority they felt sure; but they doubted of the rightness of the course which He chose to follow, as shortly before Peter had done. Peter, in spite of his fiery character, had sought to throw obstacles in the way of His going to suffer: these brethren, with enthusiastic boldness and with lofty family pride, would fain place Him before the time in the decisive scene, because they are not minded to believe His own words, that He then might become a sacrifice to the persecution of His enemies. This want of trust in His word, of subjection and self-surrender, is enough to merit the charge of unbelief with the Evangelist John. We know not in what place in Galilee they gave Him this advice. At any rate, we must assume that He had not yet publicly shown Himself.

Jesus declined their advice. ‘My time is not yet come,’ He said. Therein there lay the intimation, that He certainly did mean to go to Jerusalem; only not as yet; and truly not as yet, because He had not yet received from the Father the intimation to do so, or rather, because, according to the intimation of the Father, He was not as yet to travel thither.2 But He was not as yet to go, because also in a more solemn sense His time was not yet come—the time of His death. The one sense in this connection hangs closely with the other. They, however, through this holding back of His, should not be restrained from following their inclination to go up to the feast. ‘For you,’ He said reprovingly, ‘the time is always ready. For you the world cannot hate; but Me it hateth, because I testify of it that its deeds are evil.’ Thereupon He gave them the distinct direction: ‘Go ye up to this feast. I go not3 up to this feast; for My time is not yet come.’

In this passage it has been overlooked that there is a great difference between saying, ‘I go not up to this feast,’ i.e., I do not join in the pilgrimage to this feast, and the assurance, ‘I will not come to Jerusalem during this feast.’ Resort to the feast had for the Israelites a religious significance of a perfectly distinct character; it was coupled with the observance of a distinct ritual, and with the offering of distinct sacrifices and kindred observances. In this pilgrimage Jesus declared to His brethren that He would not take part. And, in fact, He did not take part in it.4 He came this time to the feast as a Greek (for example) might have come, in order that He might, with a view to some purpose of His own, avail Himself of the opportunity of finding the people assembled there. His resort to the feast was ‘in secret,’ says John, ‘not openly;’ it had no religious character. But that He likewise meant soon to come to Jerusalem, He intimated again to His brethren by the yet more distinct remark, ‘My time is not yet fully come.’

But why did He not say to them plainly that He should come after? This is a problem which the Evangelist gives us to solve. As His brethren and disciples were children of truth, they would have been compelled at Jerusalem to say, He is coming, if they had been asked, on their arrival there, whether He was coming or not. This is just the case which He seems to have wished to avoid. We see plainly He Himself wished that they should go to the feast. On the other hand, He declared to them that He did not find it advisable to join with them in the pilgrimage and celebration of the feast. At the same time, He repeatedly gave them to understand, that only for the moment the favourable season for His going to Jerusalem was not yet come. With these intimations they were compelled to rest satisfied. And in fact, in spite of their chiliastic unbelief, they understood Him better than many later interpreters of what He said. They attached themselves to the festal caravan. Probably with the brethren who were His disciples He despatched to the feast also His other disciples, at least the greater part of them.

Soon after, the trains of pilgrims had disappeared from Galilee; the country was become quieter; and now Jesus also relinquished His retirement, and proceeded to travel as the great persecuted, ‘quiet one in the land,’ towards Jerusalem.

We have a proverb, If you wish to strive with the lion, seek him in his den. With this proverb, this wonderful journey of His seemed to be in harmony.



From the circumstance, that Jesus in complete secrecy returned from Gaulonitis to Galilee, travelled about in Galilee, and at last journeyed from Galilee to Judea, we gain quite a distinct hold for the exposition of the chronology. By this observation it is clearly determined that Jesus was not now for the last time leaving Galilee to go to Judea, as has nevertheless been often assumed, in particular by Lücke (Commentar zum Joh. ii. 185), Wieseler (p. 319), K. Hoffmann (Weissagung und Erfüllung, ii. 112), Ebrard (348). For when Jesus for the last time left Galilee, His departure took place in very public manner. He sent disciples before, to prepare lodging for Him in a Samaritan town (Luk 9:52). From this it follows, that at that time a great company of adherents accompanied Him; and it will further appear in what way the Seventy were separated out of this great company that was travelling with Him (Luk 10:1). Also, that last journey of Christ was preceded by another course of public activity in Galilee (Luk 15:1). But it is obviously impossible to square this last public activity of Jesus in Galilee with His present secret travelling through the same land; that last setting out, amidst the full attendance of His disciples, with the circumstance that He now despatches His brethren before Him to Jerusalem; that very public journey accompanied by so much noise and excitement, with His present travelling to the capital in quietness and privacy. Nay, even His latest public appearance at Capernaum (Mat 17:24), and its attendant circumstances, cannot have taken place now. For how little would such an appearance in the most public spot in all Galilee have agreed with the studied concealment of His being in the country? This time, therefore, it was not in Galilee, nor till He came to Jerusalem, that He stepped forth again out of His concealment. From this it follows, that later, and in fact, as will be seen, between the feast of Tabernacles and the feast of the Dedication of the Temple in this year, He must again have returned to Galilee, in order now formally, amidst the largest attendance of His Galilean adherents, to take His leave of that country.



1) See Grotius, Annotat. in Marc., p. 638. Grotius refers to the use of the same word, Mark ii. 23. (Jump. Sepp, ii. 418.

2) See Olshausen, iii. 469.

3) On the reasons for the different readings οὔπω and οὐκ, cf. Lücke, p. 192. Lücke prefers the reading OVK on critical grounds. To these we must add also the consideration, that Jesus really was not repairing to the feast of Tabernacles at all, in the sense of celebrating the Jewish rite of pilgrimage. [Though οὐκ makes the passage so much more difficult, it can hardly be rejected; very strongly in its favour is what Lampe (ii. 312) adduces—ʻquod Porphyrius, teste Hieronymo (adv. Pelag. ii. 6), hanc ob causam Christum arguerit inconstantiæ.ʼ Meyer thinks Jesus did change His mind, but is not on that account to be charged with fickleness. For a view similar to the author s, see the quotation from Cyril in Lampe in loc. ED.]

4) So also K. Hoffmann, Weissayuny und Erfüllung, ii. 113.