John 7:1—Why did Jesus fear death and yet tell His disciples not to do so?

Problem: John informs us here that “Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him.” Yet Jesus said to His disciples, “My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body” (Luke 12:4).

Solution: Jesus did not fear death; He merely avoided dying prematurely. Before the appropriate time Jesus would say, “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4; 8:20). But when “His hour came” (cf. John 12:23), Jesus faced death bravely and courageously. Though humanly speaking Jesus shrunk from the horror of the Cross (see comments on Heb. 5:7b); nevertheless, He prayed, “what shall I say? `Father, save Me from this hour’?” to which He answered with an emphatic no: “But for this purpose I came to this hour” (John 12:27). Jesus knew from the very beginning that He had come to die (cf. John 2:19–20; 10:10–11), and He never hesitated in His resolute purpose “to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). However, to accomplish this as God had ordained and the prophets predicted, Jesus had to watch out for attempts on His life before the appointed time and way. For example, He was to be crucified (cf. Ps. 22:16; Zech. 12:10), not to be stoned, as the Jews sought to do on one occasion (see John 10:32–33).

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.