So there was a division among the people because of Him.”John 7:43
Have you ever tried discussing something with someone only to have them say, “Well, that’s your opinion not mine”? You may present them with a very reasoned factual argument only to have it dismissed behind the shroud of “opinion.” In this case “opinion” becomes a defense mechanism to deflect truth that a person fears. People fear truth that would show them to be wrong in some way and that would require a life change they don’t want to make. Our world is filled with opinions. There are as many opinions as there are people. Opinion is the tool of the day to deflect unwanted truth.
An “opinion” is “a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter. . . . a belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge.”  There are as many opinions as there are people. But opinions are only worth what they are based on. An opinion based on fantasy or unfounded wishful thinking is a straw house. That house will inevitably be blown down when the winds of facts storm in on it. Our world lives in a straw house.
The world relies on opinions of hollow hope. The world formulates opinion based on consensus. Politicians aren’t as much concerned about truth as they are on the demographic of opinions of their constituency. They want to be reelected so they pander to the opinions of their constituency no matter how false. It takes a person of courage and character to stand for truth against faulty opinions. That is what Christians are called to do.
We live in a world of opinions that neglect and reject history. “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to relive it.”  that is just as true as those who willfully reject historical truth. Our world and its educational system is systematically rewriting history so that successive generations are raised on faulty facts. This is especially true in our nation. Education has ceased being about learning and has become more about indoctrination. All the more reason to question the basis of worldly opinion.
When we look at the decline of empires, kingdoms and nations in history we see their fall is directly related to their rise in immorality. This is indisputable. It is true in both scriptural and secular history. Today caution is thrown to the wind. Today sin is proliferating at an unprecedented rate. Government, designed by God to protect and uphold peace, is stifling freedoms. Our world isn’t standing tall in truth and justice; it is falling short in falsehood and immorality. The governments of this world licentiously legislate immorality and ignore genocidal injustices. Examples are myriad. The breakdown and sinful redefinition of marriage, categorizing aberrant sexual preferences as civil rights issues, ignoring or being slow to act on the persecution and genocide of Christians worldwide – these are only a very few of the consequences of worldly opinion based dead end decisions in our world today. Jesus said of the last days, “For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be” (Mark 13:19). These are “nor ever shall be” days. The grease on the skids that this world tracks to hell on are greased with opinions that reject and neglect the truth.
Jesus is God in the flesh. Jesus creates points of decision with His presence. When you read the Gospels you see that the encounters with Jesus always called for decision. He brought people face to face with eternal realities that demanded they leave shallow opinions. By the Holy Spirit Jesus does the same today. But one of the worst and most disastrous consequences of opinion mongers today is being of the opinion that God and His word are irrelevant. At least the people of Jesus day were interested in Messiah. They too had various opinions on Messiah. And they too were guilty of something that is characteristic of the opinionated historically. Let me show you what that is.
At the end of John 7 Jesus proclaimed He would provide torrents of living water that would fill people’s souls if they would only believe in Him. The response of the people to this proclamation shows they had divided opinions. This response points us to the reason why people with faulty opinions are still culpable for their wrong decisions.
40 Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people because of Him. 44 Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him. (John 7:40-44)
Some acknowledged Jesus to be the Christ or Messiah. Others were confused with details. They were divided and argued. Tragic. Instead of answering Jesus call to receive the living water of the Spirit, they were distracted in a divisive argument. Opinionated people frequently miss the forest truth for the trees of their own personal prejudices.
“The Prophet” is a reference to the Messianic prophecy where the LORD stated He would raise up “a prophet like you” or like Moses (Deut. 18:15-18). “This is the Christ” is a direct reference to the Messiah, the One promised in the Old Testament who God would send to redeem Israel. The predominant belief at the time was that the messiah would be anointed by God as a political military leader to resurrect the nation in victory over their oppressors. So the light was beginning to turn on for some of the people.
The Messiah was to be “the seed of David,” or a descendant of King David and from Bethlehem (1 Sam. 16:1; Micah 5:2; 2 Samuel 7). Jesus was known as coming from Nazareth in the region of Galilee. But that is not where He was born! The gospels tell us that while Jesus’ parents lived in Nazareth, that in response to a decree of Caesar Augustus requiring all people to be registered according to “their own city,” Joseph took Mary (who was pregnant with Jesus) to Bethlehem of Judea “because he was of the house and lineage of David” who was from Bethlehem (cf. Luke 2:1-7). Jesus was born in Bethlehem just as God said Messiah would be.
The people were divided over who Jesus was. Some even wanted to take Jesus by force but evidently the Spirit restrained them. Their lack of understanding led to chaos and division. Everyone had an opinion. The problem was they weren’t interested in spending the time to prove the scriptures and who Jesus was according to those scriptures.
Personal opinions aren’t worth very much. Look what it says in proverbs about them:
- Proverbs 12:15 (NKJV) - 15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.
- Proverbs 18:2 (NKJV) - 2 A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart.
- Proverbs 18:13 (NKJV) - 13 He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.
- Proverbs 26:16 (NKJV) - 16 The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes Than seven men who can answer sensibly.
Then there is what the prophet Jeremiah was inspired to say:
- Jeremiah 9:23–24 (NKJV) - 23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; 24 But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord.
The book of Job is an account to a great extent of how Job and his friends could spend the vast proportion of the book going back and forth arguing and sharing their opinions (Job 3-37) and in the end be completely wrong about what the truth of the matter was. They thought they were speaking for God. They thought they had all the facts. They focused on what they saw. But that was their mistake. They didn’t consider what they hadn’t seen. They didn’t consider God’s perspective; His spiritual dimension of reality. It takes God entering the picture to set things straight (Job 38-42). The world of the sinful is hell bent with shortsighted opinions that fail and even refuse to consider there is a spiritual reality to be factored into life’s equation.
Paul was inspired to comment to the Romans, “Do not be wise in your own opinion” (Rom. 12:16c - NKJV). The Biblical word “opinion” (Greek heautoui) actually means conceits, or wise in yourself – as opposed to relying on God to form belief. We are often our own worst enemy. Relying on self for guidance can be a huge mistake since our heart is desperately wicked and deceived (Jer. 17:9-10). We need to go to God for direction!
The only opinion that matters is God’s opinion. It doesn’t matter what you or I think or what our personal opinion is. What matters is what God has stated. God created us and this world and He knows how it works and how to fix it when it breaks. His owner’s manual is the Bible. We need to be constantly referencing His word for truth and direction. Our world is confused because it has turned away from God and looks to personal opinions for guidance. People are quick to offer their opinions, but unless those opinions are based on God’s word, they are worthless and more often than not, flat out wrong. The people of Jesus day had a lot of opinions on who Jesus was but because they didn’t search God’s word and apply it to life they missed the mark on Jesus Messiah.
The critics questioned, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” And of course they were right. Here is evidence that they did know the scriptural criteria for Messiah. The only thing was they were ignorant of the facts of Jesus’ fulfillment of the scriptural criteria. There will always be critics and naysayers who oppose God’s plans even though they don’t have all the facts. That’s a dangerous place to be. Those who didn’t have the facts (either because they were too lazy to seek them out or deceived) missed out on the greatest provision and prophetic fulfillment of God, Jesus.
Just think of it, if before you were born to earth you had an audience with God and He offered to let you pick the time in history to be born, what would you choose? Certainly to be born during the time of Jesus’ incarnation would head the list! God had blessed these people to be born “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). But these opinionated people were squandering the opportunity for lack of attentiveness to the information God had provided. What a loss!
When Jesus entered Jerusalem he wept over the ignorance of the people: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” (Luke 13:34-35). The exact day of Jesus Messiah’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem had been predicted by the Prophet Daniel. He was inspired to predict Messiah’s triumphal entry would occur 483 years, 173, 880 days from the time that Artexerxes in 445 BC gave permission for Jerusalem to be rebuilt by the exiles. This incredible prophetic flag made it possible to unmistakably identify the Messiah (Daniel 9:24-27). God goes to incredible lengths to clarify and clearly show His prophetic and redemptive plan. The people missed it.
Why did they miss the Messiah? It wasn’t because God hadn’t provided ample signs. Jesus said, “But you were unwilling!” The issue with accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord is not one of a lack of information. The issue is one of repentance from sin and entrusting one’s life to Jesus. When God’s truth and reality collides with our personal opinions, we must yield. If we deny God to stick to our opinions, we are doomed. Are you hiding behind a baseless opinion? Are you relying on the world’s opinions even if they deny and contradict God’s truth? Have you turned from your sins and trusted Jesus as your Savior and Lord? If not, why not? What’s holding you back? It isn’t a lack of information or lack of God’s revelation. There is ample and abundant factual information about the reliability of scripture, the historicity of Jesus, and proof of the resurrection and a whole lot more. Archeologists have never unearthed any artifact that contradicts the content of scripture. In fact, archeology has only verified and proved the factual accuracy of God’s word. God’s word has been proven true individually and globally over and over again. So what is holding you back, sin, some pet sin or immoral lifestyle that you are unwilling to give up? Jesus said, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mat. 16:26). He said, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” (Luke 9:25).
There’s a lesson here for us. Be diligent in your understanding of God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15). Be attentive to what is going on in our day that is evidence of God’s fulfilling His prophetic word in current events. When we look around us it appears a great deal of prophecy is coming to fulfillment right before our eyes. A look at Jesus teaching on what to expect in the latter days (Mat. 24:1-14) reveals exactly what we see around us today:
- False followers of Jesus who come in His name but who know little about being a genuine disciple of Jesus
- False christs who say they are Messiah
- Wars and rumors of wars, e.g. insurrections, revolutions, religious wars, Russia versus Europe, Middle East, etc.
- Nation versus nation, kingdom versus kingdom – “nation” (Greek ethnos) refers to ethnic groups (e.g. Jew versus non-Jew), and religious wars
- Pestilences, e.g. Ebola, etc.
- Earthquakes in various place, e.g. like that in Iceland, Alaska, and Guam
- Many are offended or rampant scandals
- Betrayals, e.g. government removal of freedoms; oppression of citizens of nations
- “Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Mat. 24:12)
- In spite of all of these events, the gospel will be preached throughout the world, e.g. radio, TV, missions.
Paul spoke of a great falling away and apostasy before the Rapture of the church (2 Thess. 2:3). Then he spoke of the rise of Antichrist and all hell breaking loose on the earth (2 Thess. 2:4-12). Paul was inspired to warn God’s people that in the latter days self-love would predominate, pride and blasphemy would be the prevailing attitude and “evil men and imposters would grow worse and worse” (2 timothy 3:1-5). What’s your opinion, are things getting better or worse? What does God’s word say? Paul speaks of a day of self-love, pride, false religion, brutality and evil much like our day. He speaks of persecution and evil men getting worse and worse. But he also speaks of how Christians are to go to God’s word and rely on it to show them the times and how to respond to them (2 Timothy 3:12-17).
Don’t allow yourself to be ignorant or too lazy to care about world events. Prophecy and God’s signs of the times are unfolding before our eyes. Be like the sons of Issachar, “who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chron. 12:32). Know what is going on around you and in the world so you can be ready for the return of our Lord (Luke 21:36; Romans 13:11-14). And above all, if you haven’t repented of your sins and put your faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord, do it now! Time is short. Jesus said, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28). Form your opinions on the truth of God’s word. God’s opinion is what matters most. Will you turn from your sin to God through faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord? Or will you continue to hide behind willfully misguided opinions? Be honest; it really isn’t a matter of opinion; it’s a matter of willingness. Are you willing to come to God in Christ? What’s your opinion?