Standing Up for Jesus

John 7: 40-53
Jer 11:18-20 / Psa 7

So there was a division among the people because of Him.
(John 7:43)

Your will, O Lord, is our command
In our quest for transformation;
Grant us wisdom to understand
Your divine plan of salvation.

When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This is really the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the scripture said that the Christ is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” So there was a division among the people because of Him. Some of them wanted to arrest Him, but no one laid hands on Him. The officers then went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this man!” The Pharisees answered them, “Are you led astray, you also? Have any of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, who do not know the law, are accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to Him before, and who was one of them, said to them, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and you will see that no prophet is to rise from Galilee.” They went each to his own house. (John7:40-53)

Reflection

Jesus provoked different responses from different people who heard Him preach. Some were excited: “Could this be a prophet from God?” Others were convinced that “This is the Christ.” And still others were skeptical that He was the Messiah as they questioned His origin. The Pharisees and Scribes reacted with anger and cynicism, seeing Him as a threat to their entrenched positions and established traditions. Nicodemus was the only one among them who had enough sense to give Jesus the benefit of the doubt, but he was not brave enough to compromise his standing with his peers, and so backed down. But the power of Jesus’ words also moved the temple guards who were sent to arrest Him. They came back empty handed because His words moved them deeply, and His time had not yet come.

Like the Jews during the time of our Lord, we all react differently to the teachings of Jesus in the Gospel. Some of us are moved in ways we cannot understand, because of the power of the Holy Spirit stirring within us. But there are others who are cynical, and even doubt the veracity of the Bible’s passages. Some even react violently against our faith, leading to the persecution of Christians in some parts of the world.

Jesus lived up to His word when He said that He had not come to bring peace upon the earth, but division (Mt.10:34). Through the centuries, many have indeed been divided in their relationship with Christ. God has given us free will, the power to make a choice: to take a stand for Christ and the Gospel, or to continue pursuing our own deluded quest for freedom and self-realization. To follow the example of Jesus and offer our lives in selfless love for God and others, or to follow our self-centered desires according to the standards of the world, as opposed to God’s kingdom. During this time of Lent, let us meditate on this important crossroads in our life. And may we follow the choice of Joshua, the successor of Moses, who said, “Decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

Disturb me, O Lord, if You must, that I may always be loyal to You. I surrender my will to Your cross, that I may earn the eternal glory of Your kingdom. Amen.

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