Christ is the division point of history, marking the transition from B.C. to A.D.
And Christ is the division point between men. What individuals believe about Christ will either unite them together or separate them from each other. This is exceedingly clear in John 7.
The half-brothers of Jesus, having seen His life and ministry more closely perhaps than any but the disciples, rejected Him (vv. 3-4). They were separated not only from Him, but from their own mother in this verdict (Joseph apparently died before the inception of Jesus’ formal ministry).
The crowds were also divided about Jesus:
- Some said, “He is a good man” while others asserted that He was leading people astray (v. 12). And regardless of the position, no one dared to speak out publicly for fear of retribution from the Pharisees, who were in open hostility against Him (v. 13).
- Some said, “You [Jesus] have a demon!” (v. 20).
- Some were apparently confused why others were wanting to kill Christ (v. 25).
- Some asserted (in opposition to the religious leaders) that He was the Christ (v. 26).
- Some were believing in Him as the Messiah (vv. 31, 41).
- Some believed in Him as the Prophet (vv. 42, 52).
- Others were wanting to kill Him (vv. 30, 32, 44).
The summary of verse 43 could not be more accurate: “a division occurred in the crowd because of Him.”
This is what Christ does — He divides men into two ultimate categories: are they for Christ or against Christ? The most significant aspect of any man is his evaluation of Christ.
And despite the many who stand against Christ, there is still this aspect of encouragement: Christ can change the hearts of men. And there is a remarkable example of that change at the end of this chapter.
Early in the ministry of Jesus, He was approached late at night by a solitary Pharisee asking questions. And then this religious leader, who was also a member of the ruling council called the Sanhedrin disappeared. And in this chapter, this man named Nicodemus returns.
He also makes an appearance in the narrative after Jesus’ crucifixion to bring some spices (19:39). While it is likely that he is an unbeliever in ch. 3, he is almost certainly a believer by ch. 19. Here (6 months before the crucifixion), it is hard to determine, but he is at least in the process of becoming a believer.
And that offers hope for us as we read this account. Too many around Christ in that day and too many around us are open in their hostility to Christ and too many more are apathetic about Christ and too few are adamant in their belief in Christ. But the hope and encouragement is that the grace of Christ can take those who are opposed to Him and lead them to faith in Him.
Yes, Jesus is the dividing line of history and the dividing line between men, but He also leads men across that line to genuine trust in Him.