People today are divided in their consideration of who Jesus is. Some believe that he was a good teacher, but that is as far as they are willing to consider him. Others believe he was an imposter. Some even believe that he never existed. Still others maintain that he is who he said he was: the Messiah and the son of God.
That people are divided in their view of Jesus today should not surprise us when we realize that even when Jesus lived on the earth people were divided over who he was.
When we get to the events in John 7, Jesus had been teaching and healing for several years. By this time the Jewish people knew about this man from Galilee. When it came time for the Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths), the people were looking for Jesus (see John 7:11). As all Jewish men had to be at these feasts, they knew that Jesus would be there. But even as they looked for him, you can see their divided view of him.
“There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds. Some were saying, ‘He is a good man,’ but others, ‘He deceives the common people.’ However, no one spoke openly about him for fear of the Jewish leaders” (John 7:12-13).
Jesus turned up publicly half-way through the festival and began teaching. The Jewish leaders did not know what to make of him, as his knowledge far exceeded the normal person yet he had not been trained (see John 7:14-19). Because of his teaching, and that the Jewish leaders were not stopping him, the people began to wonder if he really was the Messiah.
“Some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, ‘Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Yet, look, he’s speaking publicly and they’re saying nothing to him. Can it be true that the authorities know he is the Messiah? But we know where this man is from. When the Messiah comes, nobody will know where he is from…’ However, many from the crowd believed in him and said, ‘When the Messiah comes, he won’t perform more signs than this man has done, will he?’” (John 7:25-27,31 CSB).
Although they struggled to understand all he was teaching, they could see that there was something different about Jesus. As some had earlier said, he taught as someone with authority, not like one of the Jewish teachers (Matthew 7:28-29).
The one thing that puzzled the Jews was where Jesus was from. Some came to the conclusion that he was “the Prophet” and “the Messiah” while others said, “Surely the Messiah doesn’t come from Galilee, does he? Doesn’t the Scripture say that the Messiah comes from David’s offspring and from the town of Bethlehem, where David lived?” (John 7:41-42).
They did not realize that although Jesus had been brought up in Nazareth, in the region of Galilee, he had not been born there. Jesus had been born in Bethlehem, the place the Scriptures had said the Messiah would be born.
Many of the people who saw and heard Jesus came to the conclusion, because of his teaching and the miraculous signs that he gave, that he must be the promised Messiah. Today we can read about Jesus and investigate his claims. When we consider all that he said and did, he must be more than a good man or a good teacher. He must be God who came in the flesh to die for the salvation of humankind.
We, like the people who saw and heard Jesus, must determine what we will do with the evidence. Who was he?
Readings for next week:
27 November – John 6:1-40
28 November – John 6:41-71
29 November – John 7:1-24
30 November – John 7:25-33
1 December – John 8:1-30