Sifting truth out of rumours has become one of the biggest issues of modern life but chapter 7 tells us that this is no new phenomena. We are more prone to pay attention to rumours in areas that highly concern us. I feel I must confess here, I read every day the football gossip, which mainly concerns rumours of players’ transfers, of which probably less than 1% actually take place. I am not alone in a fascination with rumours in my area of interest. Just as most reading this will not understand why I spend time on such a fruitless exercise, (I realise I have no good defense over this.) others in large numbers follow all rumours regarding the Royal Family. I know this as I get almost daily, e-news from the magazine Good Housekeeping, (don’t ask why) who are obsessed with every microscopic detail of their lives. None of this has great consequence, however it all becomes much more serious when the rumours are about matters that directly impact the future of people and nations. Hence the concern about political interference by foreign powers through social media in general elections. A vital skill for all then is the ability to develop discernment in matters of consequence.
In this extended section of John’s gospel, in which Chapter 7 is central, we see confusion and hostility growing in the mass population and amongst the leadership, along with a fascination with Jesus and a desire for truth, healing and a new beginning. In Chapter 6 Jesus laid claim to being the Messiah the Israelites had been waiting for and to whom the Old Testament festivals were a signpost. However, he was not the type of Rescuer they imagined or wanted and so they grumbled. Jesus exposes the nature of the hearts and motives of the people and the religious leadership. The Spirit of Christ continues to do that today, and it provokes a range of reactions, frequently hostile. Truth is often at least initially uncomfortable.
The atmosphere in Jerusalem was toxic. People felt they had to be very careful about what they said regarding Jesus, for fear of reprisals by the authorities. ‘`Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him.’ John 7.13 The religious leadership was trying to control the narrative. Opinions amongst the people were divided, some said he was a good man, others he was misguided and this opinion was actively promoted by the Jewish leadership. John 7.12 Everybody either misunderstood or disbelieved both the signs and Jesus’ words. They were however perplexed by Jesus’ authority, John 7.15 especially the Jewish leaders as Jesus had not been trained in their orthodoxy. Jesus’ response is that his authority is directly received from the Father and the evidence of that is that he does not seek to glorify himself but instead seeks to glorify the Father who sent him. Jesus then gives us insight into how to be discerning. Firstly our desire should be to do the will of God the Father. ‘If anyone’s will is to do God’s will he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.’ John 7.17 Secondly if the speaker is self-promoting they are not to be trusted. ‘The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true and in him there is no falsehood. John 7.18 An important test of the rhetoric is the character of the speaker.
Jesus then exposes how the Jewish leaders have distorted the application of the law and by doing so have not understood how the Father’s will is for the healing of the whole person. The Jewish leaders would circumcise a child on the Sabbath if it fell on the eighth day according to Mosaic law despite their over rigorous application of the no work on the Sabbath rule. However, when Jesus healed the whole body of the man at the well in Chapter 6 they condemned him. John 7.21-24 The Spirit is able to use greater discernment when we are seeking to understand the Father’s will. As Jesus said, ‘Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement.’ john 7.24
Do we seek to understand the message of the whole of the bible when reading a small section to enable us to have right judgement?
How much do we apply biblical understanding to life decisions?
In our decision making are we firstly seeking the glory of God ?
Raise A Hallelujah – Unlimited: Live Worship from Spring Harvest 2019 (Try turning the volume up)