Short Meditations in John 7: 13. Fear
Jn 7:13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.
Public opinion is a powerful force in our modern world driven by the media and social media as well as crusading forces of groups trying to get their word viewpoint accepted. Fear of running contrary to ‘accepted’ norms of public opinion is also common, fear of running foul of authorities toeing the current political or more likely the latest politically correct view. Smacking a child became forbidden in the face of abusive parenting. Having specific views about sexuality forced upon modern society has been the latest example of ‘overkill’ political correctness that has caused many (and first seen in fearful public institutions) to experience the same fear that was in Jerusalem when Jesus came there for this feast.
This fear was generated by the religious authorities – who were really one and the same as the civic authorities who had already made it very plain that they were against Jesus and thus against anyone who spoke well of him. We have in the past spoken about totalitarian states, of whom there are relatively few today, states that dictated what is right thought and which acted oppressively against groups within society that they saw as a threat. China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia are the well-known names of the twenty-first century in this respect. Having said that, mention of a religious outlook on life is tantamount to being forbidden or rather ridiculed in many parts of Western society and perhaps we are nearer active opposition (persecution) than many of us realise.
The presence of scientism, the exalting of science to a position of dominance that it does not deserve is one of the tools of the enemy in the twenty first century, together with the weapon of ‘tolerance’ which means tolerance of almost everything except Christianity. Since absolutes have been removed from our Western societies, following the removal of the general acceptance of God, nothing is unacceptable except that which offends the godless culture – such as Christianity.
For Jesus, what this meant was that when he walked into Jerusalem he was walking into a hostile and confused environment. The hostility came from the religious establishment and the confusion came from the people – and that we will see more and more as this chapter progresses. It may have been that which caused Jesus to remain out of sight (as we’ll see in the next verse) and presumably he was gauging the political temperature so that he did not provoke the end crisis prematurely. At the moment, if we may use this analogy, the pot is gentle simmering and Jesus doesn’t want to come to boiling point yet.