John 7:1-13 (NLT)
After this, Jesus stayed in Galilee, going from village to village. He wanted to stay out of Judea where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. 2 But soon it was time for the Festival of Shelters, 3 and Jesus’ brothers urged him to go to Judea for the celebration. “Go where your followers can see your miracles!” they scoffed. 4 “You can’t become a public figure if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, prove it to the world!” 5 For even his brothers didn’t believe in him. 6 Jesus replied, “Now is not the right time for me to go. But you can go anytime, and it will make no difference. 7 The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of sin and evil. 8 You go on. I am not yet ready to go to this festival, because my time has not yet come.” 9 So Jesus remained in Galilee. 10 But after his brothers had left for the festival, Jesus also went, though secretly, staying out of public view. 11 The Jewish leaders tried to find him at the festival and kept asking if anyone had seen him. 12 There was a lot of discussion about him among the crowds. Some said, “He’s a wonderful man,” while others said, “He’s nothing but a fraud, deceiving the people.” 13 But no one had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.
Tension. Friction. Conflict. Division. Disagreement. Such things, such rivalries, often work their way into our relationships with others, whether they are our relationships with our families or our relationships with our communities or our churches. And if you’re like me, you don’t want such rivalries in your relationships; if you’re like me, you try hard to keep such rivalries out of them; if you’re like me, you see such rivalries as being the absolute worst things that could happen to them.
It seems somewhat strange to me, then, that Jesus was often the cause of such rivalries in such relationships. As we see in John 7, Jesus caused rivalries in His family (His brothers), in His community (the people at the Feast) and in His church (the Jews). Jesus was a bone of contention to the people around Him; Jesus was a dividing line for everyone who came near Him; Jesus was one of those controversial subjects that you’re not supposed to talk about in public.
But it really wasn’t Jesus’ fault that He created such rivalries; it was the people’s fault. It was not Jesus but the people’s refusal to accept Jesus that created such rivalries in the family and the community and the church; it was the people’s refusal to acknowledge Jesus for who He really was that made Him such a bone of contention, a dividing line and controversial subject. Had they not so refused, had they accepted and acknowledged Jesus, there would have been no such rivalries. And if we all will simply accept and acknowledge Jesus, we will have no such rivalries, either.
Jesus, help us accept and acknowledge You as You really are so that there will be no rivalries in our families, communities or churches.
Dialog discuss: Diane Sawyer to Prince Charles 2008. “What did you dream of being before you knew you’d be king?” “I always knew.”
Some dream. Some know. Do you know who you are in Christ?