In John 7, Jesus mentions to his brothers that he is not going to the Feast. But in verse 10 it says Jesus went also, but in secret. Was this not lying on the part of Jesus? Please clarify. -- Prakash D'Sa (India)

It was all a matter of timing. Jesus was not going up the feast when his brothers suggested, or for the reason they suggested. He did go soon after. And they knew he would be going eventually, since he was a good, law-abiding Jew.

It would be as though your wife asked you, "Are you going to the market now?" and you replied, "No, not now." But then you did go a few hours later. You have spoken the truth, haven't you?

There is a passage where Jesus tells his brothers he would not be going to the Passover Feast, yet shortly afterwards he actually goes in secret. It doesn't appear that Jesus had changed his mind. Isn't this a white lie? Does that mean that some white lies are not sin? -- William Lee, Pasadena)

The question, I believe, reveals a conscientious inquirer. John 7:10 does indicate Jesus went up to the Feast, just not at the exact second (or minute, or hour, or perhaps day) his brothers suggested he go to Jerusalem. No, I do not think Jesus changed his mind. Perhaps he knew that if he were accompanied by his brothers, who at this point were still essentially unbelievers, others would get the wrong idea and his mission could have been thwarted.

The text does not suggest Jesus deceived his brothers, though it makes it very clear he did not want them to know his movements. At any rate, this is not an instance of a "white lie." Jesus was not in fact going up when his brothers were going; he would go later.

Not everyone will be familiar with the term (especially some of my readers in other nations). A "white lie" is an intrinsically deceptive statement made to get out of an embarrassing situation or to protect someone else's feelings. For example, someone buys a new shirt and asks you how you like it. You do not care for it. You could, of course, simply refuse to answer his question, or, worse, tell an outright lie: "It is my favorite shirt in the world. I wish it were mine!" Presumably Christians care about others' feelings, so these two possibilities are rejected. Telling the absolute truth -- "I can't believe you paid money for such a ridiculous piece of cloth. It is inappropriate in every way." -- is likely to hurt his feelings, and possibly your relationship. Remember that Jesus did not always answer every question put to him. Nor did he feel compelled to provide a balanced, comprehensive reply when queried. He walked in wisdom and in love.

The "white lie" response (back to the shirt) would be something like, "It's nice," or "Yes, I like it." That would be deceptive, wouldn't it? I personally feel that a Christian ought to avoid such responses. A better response: "Hmm... interesting shirt!" Or maybe, "Why ask me? You know I don't have much taste in clothes." There's almost always a better way to respond to a point blank question than (1) a lie, (2) a white lie, or (3) a blunt, hurtful answer.

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