How many opinions are there today concerning Jesus? It doesn’t take long to conclude there are lots. Some only see the mystical Christ. And those who only see Jesus as a historical figure. Some see Him as a myth or a legend who didn’t exist at all. Some see only His humanity. Others only His divinity. A few see Him as a lunatic perpetuating a fraud. And some see both Jesus’ humanity and divinity at the same time. Opinions were no less divided in John chapter seven.
Please take the time to read John 7:1-52 since we will not be including much of the text today. John Seven is actually a bit of a puzzle. So far, John’s retelling has been pointed, with Jesus proclaiming grand themes. And there is some of this here. But John’s purpose seems to be the unwrapping of the various opinions and thoughts concerning Jesus at this time.
The first opinion is that of Jesus’ physical brothers. They encouraged Jesus to travel to Jerusalem to the upcoming feast of booths and make himself known to all. “Therefore His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see 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.”” (John 7:3–4, NASB95) The first opinion we encounter is one of unbelief and a bit of mockery.
Our next opinions run together. The Jewish leaders were searching for Jesus at the feast, expecting Him to do something so they could arrest Him. “There was much grumbling among the crowds concerning Him; some were saying, “He is a good man”; others were saying, “No, on the contrary, He leads the people astray.”” (John 7:12, NASB95) But then Jesus began teaching in the temple, and His arguments astounded the studied religious leaders (verse 15).
Our next opinion enters the realm of spirits. Jesus closed a short explanation with, ““Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?”” (John 7:19, NASB95) To which the people responded, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?” (John 7:20, NASB95) Jesus did know the plans of some to kill Him. Neither is this the only time Jesus is accused of either being demon-possessed or on the side of Satan.
The next set of opinions centers on whether Jesus is the promised Messiah. Part of the problem was the assumption that they would not know where the Messiah was from, but they knew where Jesus grew up. So, some saw His deeds and said, “it is him.” And others looked at their understanding and said, “no he isn’t.” In response, Jesus identified with both sides of His nature. “Then Jesus cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, “You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. “I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me.”” (John 7:28–29, NASB95) In this, He recognized both His humanity and His divinity. “So they were seeking to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come.” (John 7:30, NASB95)
Sandwiched in all of this identity politics is a promise. “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ ” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7:37–39, NASB95)
Even more division and opinions followed. Some said Jesus was “the prophet,” who was to arrive before the Messiah. Others said He is the Christ, the Messiah. A claim disputed by others because of His Galilean heritage. The Pharisees sent guards to arrest Jesus, but they returned empty-handed. The last word in this chapter is from Nicodemus, whom we met in Chapter three. “Nicodemus (he who came to Him before, being one of them) said to them, “Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?” They answered him, “You are not also from Galilee, are you? Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee.”” (John 7:50–52, NASB95) Opinions, but no one thought (or perhaps dared) to ask Jesus and to listen carefully.
Even today, we make the same mistake. We try to figure Jesus out without ever asking Him. To do so would require that we disregard our thoughts, opinions, desires, and prejudice concerning Him. Perhaps the most life-shattering prayer is this – “Jesus, if you’re real, please show me.” That doesn’t mean Jesus will walk through the walls and sit down. Nor does it involve lighting bolts or audible voices. Nor is there an expectation of timing. Some know right away, while others are led on a process of discovery. But, whether we recognize it or not, Jesus always answers that prayer.
I’m not here today to judge your opinion or that you would judge mine. My only desire is that you would ask Jesus for yourself. I wonder if that is what John was up to in this section the whole time.