Based on the testimony of the Old Testament prophets, the promised coming of the Messiah was to have a distinctive King aspect to it. The Messiah was to destroy the world powers in an act of judgment, deliver Israel from her enemies, and restore her as a nation. Just as Jesus appeared to set aside the judgment aspect of the expected Messiah’s rule, He downplayed His king identity as well. If He was a king at all, He appeared to keep it a secret. Jesus often instructed those He had healed to keep it under wraps as if He didn’t want His popularity to get too big. An odd instruction from a would-be king.
As it was, Jesus’ fame did eventually reach king-like heights. But when the people were ready to embrace Him as king, Jesus fled the scene. Look at what happened just after the feeding of the five thousand. “And so they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, ‘This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.” (John 6:13-15). If Jesus was indeed the fulfillment of the prophesied Messiah King, why did Jesus refuse their coronation?
A similar story is recorded by John in the next chapter. “Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Tabernacles, was at hand. Jesus’ brothers therefore said to Him, ‘Depart from here [Galilee], and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may behold Your works which You are doing. For no one does anything in secret, when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If you do these things, show Yourself to the world.’ For not even His brothers were believing in Him. Jesus therefore said to them, ‘My time is not yet at hand; but your time is always opportune.’ ” (John 7:2-6).
Jesus’ brothers were essentially saying, “You are doing all these miracles here in the backwater of Galilee. If publicity is what you are after, go to the big city, Jerusalem, and put on a show there in front of the big crowds.” Of course, publicity was not what Jesus was after and He initially passed on their suggestion for the same reason He did not accept the crowd’s attempt to make Him king; His time to be revealed was not yet at hand. But His time is coming.