John 7:43 (NIV): Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.
I am very interested in politics, and I enjoy political discussions. Sometimes good faith disagreements exist, but I do step on the occasional land mine. Political allegiances are rooted in deeply held convictions and feelings, so sturdy debate can offend sensibilities or even trigger wounds. The power of words are easily misused, especially when it comes to political disagreements.
In John 7:40-42 there was a fierce debate over Jesus. Some saw him as the Prophet and others saw Jesus as the Messiah. Others rejected both viewpoints, because Jesus came from Galilee and not Bethlehem. These were not good faith differences in theology. Factions had formed, each group deeply suspicious of the other.
Political allegiances create division today. Political parties have different ways of seeing the world: one group believes they produce good, while the other side produces evil. When these viewpoints are irreconcilable, the result is usually demagoguery and hostility. In such a climate, debate is unavoidable and fruitless.
John 7:33 (NIV): “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me.
In John 7 Jesus stands apart from a divisive debate, but not because the subject wasn’t important (it was about Him!). Jesus was not one to shy away from debate. In his earthly ministry he publicly confronted error with truth, and hypocrisy with righteousness. In this instance Jesus resists identifying with a particular group, but instead chooses to talk about his relationship to his Father in terms of his mission. Perhaps he did not want a label or a fruitless debate to distract from the Gospel.