Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews. (John 7:13 NASB)
If you look at the preceding verses in John 7, it sounds very current. One group of people want Jesus to cash in on his notoriety: So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples can see your works that you are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he’s seeking public recognition. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” (For not even his brothers believed in him.) (vv. 3-5 CSB) Watch out, social media, Jesus’ own brothers are ready to treat him like a carnival act.
It is the other group, however, that alarms me more. They are afraid to even speak his name out loud. Does that have a contemporary ring to it? He is just him. And you can tell that they are very self-conscious as they even speak openly of him. In fact, John tells us: Still, nobody was talking publicly about him for fear of the Jews (v. 13).
Solomon warned us about this long ago: Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe (NIV 1984). As you go out today, fearing people rather than God will trip you up. So I say, “Dance with the One who brung ya!” Paul was privy to the temptation as well: Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10). You better be settled on this before you even go out today. That way you can serve Christ unencumbered. And Jesus minced no words about the issue: “Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge me before others, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever denies me before others, I will also deny him before my Father in heaven” (Matt. 10:32-33 CSB). Even before you go out, choose this day whom you will serve. If the Lord is God, follow him. (See Josh. 24 & 1 Kgs. 18.)
The message is clear and the temptation against it will only grow stronger. And do not be naïve. This goes for the word of God. Denying the word of Christ is part and parcel to denying Christ. Just as the devil questioned in the garden, Did God really say? so is it in our own day. Do you really believe “such and such” is a sin? The question will come. Are you firm in your convictions? The Bible is. Be prepared to answer boldly, truthfully, accurately, courageously. And it may help to go ahead and memorize the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:4-6, among other passages.
BENEDICTION: May the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, strengthen you and help you. May he uphold you with his righteous right hand. Amen.