Monday 21 July 2014

Bible Book:

“The crowd answered, ‘You have a demon! Who is trying to kill you?’” (v. 20)

John 7:14-24 Monday 21 July 2014


Chapters 6-8 of John's Gospel containa concentrated block of teaching, located between two of the sevensigns in John's Gospel, that is to say between Jesus walking onwater (John 6:16-24) and healing the man born blind(John 9:1-7)[1]. Coincidentally it is also the teaching blockwhich bridges the two first 'I am' sayings of Jesus: "I am thebread of life" (John 6:35, 48, 51) and "I am the light of theworld" (John 8:12)[2].

However this is a block of teaching inwhich Jesus' prophetic ministry is completely misunderstood by hishearers. It is evident that Jesus and the crowds, to which thisteaching is addressed frequently and with some frustration, mishearand misunderstand one another.

When Jesus declares that he is thebread of life and the living bread, and invites his hearers to feedon his flesh and drink his blood, many of his hearers misunderstandhim and later turn away from him. Given Jewish sensibilities aboutconsuming blood that is perhaps unsurprising.

However, the mutual frustration comesto its climax in verse 20 when people in the crowd respond angrilyto Jesus' suggestion that some were looking for an opportunity tokill him. The crowd ask, with scarcely concealed annoyance, "Youhave a demon! Who is trying to kill you?"

For readers of the story who know howit ends, Jesus is of course being remarkably prescient. There wereindeed some who were seeking opportunity to kill him. The crowdthat he addressed in John 7 could not see that at the time.However, many must have recalled his words at some point subsequentto the crucifixion.

What is perhaps most remarkable aboutthis passage is that despite the fact that there was so much mutualmisunderstanding Jesus was still engaged in sharing the gospel ofthe kingdom with the crowds.

This is a passage that reminds us thatthe ministry of Jesus was intensely uncomfortable at times, bothfor him and for those who heard him. It was only later on, afterthe events of Easter that his words would make sense.

To Ponder

  • How far do you think contemporary followers of Jesus still havethe capacity to engage in difficult conversation with those who arenot yet followers of Jesus?
  • To what extent is there still a place for sharing a gospel thatappears at the moment to be indecipherable but which may come intosharp focus at some later stage?
  • Has contemporary Christianity lost some of the angular edginesswhich seems to be evident in Jesus in this passage? If so, is thata good or bad thing?


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