“But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him.” (John 7:10-13).
Following Jesus’ discussion with His brothers, John’s narrative shares that Jesus secretly went to the Feast of the Tabernacles after His brothers also went up to Jerusalem for the feast. We must presume that it was the Father’s will for Him to do so, but to do so discretely. This would be the last time Jesus would leave Galilee before His crucifixion.
As the feast proceeded, there was much discussion among and by the various people groups. First, there were the Jewish leaders who kept saying, “Where is He?” Remember that it was their intent to kill Jesus at the earliest possibility (John 5:18).
The second people group were the Jewish populace or simply “the people.” These would include Judeans, Galileans and Jews from outside Palestine. While the Jewish leaders were unified in their hatred of Jesus, the people were divided. Some superficially believed Jesus to be a “good man.” Others cynically rejected Him and believed He was leading the people astray. Yet, all kept these opinions private for fear of retaliation by the Jewish authorities.
Josh McDowell once wrote that there are only three perspectives one can have of Jesus. What you think about Jesus will make all the difference in the world as to whether you should follow Him.
The first perspective is that Jesus was a liar who knew that He was not God and deceived the people into thinking He was. If this is true, then you should not follow Jesus because He was not telling the truth.
The second perspective is that Jesus was a lunatic who thought He was God, but really wasn’t. If this is true, then you should not follow Jesus because He was insane.
The third perspective is that Jesus is Lord, who truly is God and who alone provides a salvation for sinners from the penalty, power and eventual presence of sin. If, or rather since, this is true, Jesus should be worshiped and followed.
Jesus is not just simply a good man and neither was He leading the people astray. He is God. Thus far in the Gospel of John, we have not only seen John’s statements regarding Jesus’ identity as God (John 1;1-14), but also Jesus’ own words concerning His deity (John 4:26; 5:18; 6:36-59).The truth is that you cannot simply accept Jesus as a good man. He said He was more than that. He said that He was, and is, God.
Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “Six months or so before the brothers of Jesus implored Him to go up to the Feast of Booths and do signs, He escaped a crowd that attempted to force Him into leading a revolution against Rome (John 6:15). That is likely one of the reasons why our Lord did not initially follow His brothers’ wishes but told them that His time to go up for the feast had not yet arrived (7:8). Due to the speculation about His ministry (vv. 10–13), it seems He did not want to cause a stir among those who had false expectations about the Messiah. He would enter the public eye on His terms, not theirs.”
This remains the case to this day. The hatred of Jesus, in part was because He did not meet people’s expectations of who they thought the Messiah should be. In sharing the Gospel, we must not depart from the biblical truth of Jesus’ identity as God.
John Calvin writes that “the Gospel cannot be faithfully preached without summoning the whole world, as guilty, to the judgment-seat of God, that flesh and blood may thus be crushed and reduced to nothing.”
Dr. Sproul concludes, “People hated Jesus because His words exposed their evil hearts. When we preach the gospel, people may hate us as well. Let us make sure that they hate us because of the gospel message, not because of our offensive personalities.”
Soli deo Gloria!