Short Meditations in John 7: 20. Counter-Challenge
Jn 7:20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”
I have testified elsewhere on these pages that many years ago when I was witnessing to my father in the early days of my faith, on one occasion he burst out, “You’re of the devil!” which was an interesting comment because I didn’t think he believed in the devil and certainly, at that point, in Jesus. It was the response of a defensive man who was being challenged at the deepest point of his life (he did subsequently come to the Lord before he eventually died).
Now we might think that the response of the crowd was similarly defensive in response to Jesus question about why they wanted to kill him. Now for the crowd itself, which may have comprised many ordinary Jews, it may have been a way of trying to disassociate themselves from the schemes of the religious leaders but even if it was, it was somewhat ingenuous in that it was well known that the authorities were out to kill Jesus at some opportune moment, as we’ve seen in the previous meditation. Perhaps it almost sounds as if they were wanting to make this public proclamation a way of disassociating themselves from Jesus in the eyes of the authorities – we don’t know anything about this, what are you on about? But then did the authorities care about the fact that it was known what they were plotting, as we saw in v.13?
But attack, they say, is the best form of defence, and Jesus has just eyeballed the guilt of these people who were subservient to leaders who were plotting unrighteously, no doubt seen by them as an attack, and so they respond with hostility, for that is what it is.
But this puts me in mind of what sometimes happens in Christian circles. I can only put it down to enemy activity stirring up God’s people who leave little landing pads of unrighteousness in their lives, on which the enemy is able to land and cause upset. It is the hostility that can sometimes be observed among those who disagree with one another in the kingdom of God. Only the other day I was on YouTube and came across a Christian speaker who was violently denouncing certain other leaders and another movement with which he disagreed. His challenge certainly seemed valid but it was the way he did it that I found grated with my spirit. Yes, it is possible that well-meaning brothers and sister may be saying or doing things which, in our eyes, may appear to be falling short of the glory of God, but surely – as brothers and sisters – we should be pointing out such things graciously. To speak with absolute hostility and vehemence against the family of God only makes you just as bad. Let’s not do it.