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 7:11-13 (ESV)
Yet for fear of the Jews. I think it is worth noting that when it comes to race, the authors of the New Testament were all Jews, well except for Luke. But as a Jewish friend pointed out, he was a doctor, so chances are… Jesus, his disciples, all who he was sent to were Jews. The New Testament itself is a Jewish Document that can’t be understood apart from Jewish scripture.
This is why it is not very well understood today, everyone wants to read the New Testament and ignore the Torah, the very scripture Jesus quotes when he is speaking to “The Jews”. So they neither understand that the Old Testament is circumcision and all that goes along with that, or that the New Testament, far from being a book, is actually the Lord’s Supper, “This is the New Testament in my blood”. Few ever stop to think about what the nature of a Testament is. So we end up reading the New Testament Scriptures the same way “The Jews” read the Torah, and miss the point entirely. We search through scripture looking for rules to live by, and when we do that we don’t need a savior or his Testament.
The Jews, as John uses the term here, read the scriptures in such a way that there was no need for a savior, or a messiah in the sense that Jesus was a savior. If he wanted to throw off the yoke of Rome, well that would be nice but he had better do it quickly and convincingly. They could only think in terms of politics when it came to a Messiah, a man like David, a judge like Samson. And of course, there are parallels there between David, Samson and the Messiah, and they aren’t coincidence. But because the Jews read the scriptures in this way, they rejected the Messiah when he came. Not all Jews rejected Jesus, and sometimes John uses the term to refer to the people as a whole, but often he uses it to refer to those of his own people who have rejected the Messiah.
It’s an odd thing though, because many so called Christians are guilty of the same thing. Rather than looking at Jesus as the Messiah, as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, they turn him into an example, and they read the Bible not to understand the salvation that he brought for us, but only to look for rules to live by. (As if we didn’t have enough of those already.) Jesus becomes a stumbling block to them, even as he is to all Jews, whether Semite or not. But for those of us who are being saved, the word of the cross, the gospel of Jesus, is the power of God.