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John 7:10-13 (ESV)

But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him.

John Calvin’s commentary on this passage notes that, “…the power of our Lord Jesus Christ shone forth with greater and more wonderful brightness, when — causing himself to be heard amidst armed foes, and amidst their furious resentment, and under so formidable a government — he openly maintained and asserted the truth of God.” How often do you hear people speak openly about Jesus Christ? We do when we are inside our Christian bubble, of course, but how comfortable are you bringing up The Name in mixed company? Do you ever hesitate to say anything about Jesus for fear of a negative reaction?

Jesus had gained quite a reputation by this time and was the talk of the town amongst the Jewish people. There were those who believed him to be the Messiah. Others were intrigued but unsure. I’m sure some had no interest in his exploits at all while the Jewish leaders paid close attention and were plotting his demise. The circumstances around His Name are not so different today. Here in Raleigh, where I live, there is a strong evangelical presence…but there are also plenty of skeptics, cultural Christians, members of other faiths, and people who are just not interested at all.

“Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him.”

In the workplace you could get into trouble for making other people feel uncomfortable when you “push your personal beliefs on them.” In your neighborhood you could be marginalized for being “such a hateful person with your narrowmindedness.” In the classroom you could be mocked for “believing in fairytales rather than hard science.” In the coffee shop people might “look at you funny” if you speak openly about the things of God. In a political discussion you might come across as “hateful of women” and a supporter of “male dominance and/or female suppression” because of your pro-life convictions.

“Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him.”

I started with John Calvin’s comments today because the same can be said of all of us when we choose to “openly maintain and assert the truth of God” in our lives and amongst mixed company: The power of Christ will shine forth with greater and more wonderful brightness. To be clear, we don’t wield this Truth like a hammer in an attempt to pound every nail into place! Rather, we apply it like a loving balm in an attempt to glorify God and love our neighbors well.

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