vv 43,44. So the crowd was divided about him. Some even wanted him arrested, but no one laid a hand on him.
This whole chapter is about divisions over Jesus. His family was divided, the crowds in Jerusalem were divided, and amazingly even the Jewish leaders were divided with Nicodemus speaking up for Jesus. Later, in Matthew 10, Jesus warned that His ministry would divide households and communities.
‘ “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. ‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household! ‘
Don’t you find this one of the extraordinary features of this Gospel? Wouldn’t you expect to find this Good News of love uniting people with a sense of delight and wonder? Why is it that we find love divisive and challenging?
The reality is that love demands that we focus on the hopes and needs of others rather than focus selfishly on ourselves. Love confronts us with the challenge of letting go of self-interest – and our fallen and distorted human nature doesn’t like that! From early on in life our vocabulary is packed with ‘ME’ and ‘MINE’. The young child sees itself at the centre of the Universe, and learns to throw a wobbly when personal needs go unmet. When we are challenged to love as Jesus loves, the inner self-centred me is liable to kick against it and scream ‘ME first!’ Love is never a soft option; it was a determined love that took Jesus to the cross to rescue us for eternity. As a song reminds us, it was not nails that held Him to the cross – it was love.
So we read this chapter of John’s Gospel of love in the wider context of human selfishness. No small wonder such confrontation leaps out at us from the pages.