“Thus the people were divided because of Jesus” (John 7:43 NIV). PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE CHAPTER FOR CONTEXT!
Whenever there is misunderstanding of history, usually because of the varied lenses by which all view history, there is of necessity a difference of opinion. In this passage of scripture we see several things happening that are worth deep thought (beyond surface level).
First of all, the Pharisees and the chief priests (the church leadership) were not really thrilled with the reaction of the people (they felt their authority was being threatened) when they heard Jesus speaking. They all knew about the promise of the Messiah from “the scriptures” (scrolls about the prophets), but because they were looking for someone to lead them into “battle” in order to obtain freedom, they overlooked “The Truth” and what Truth was saying.
Because they could not agree about who Jesus was (murmuring to themselves), especially after He told them about the Holy Spirit, they became divided factions of “religious” folks; not knowing that The Truth was standing among them. The leaders became so incensed with Jesus teaching truth and not trying to fleece people or to bind them to traditional rules and regulations that they planned to arrest Him (they could not stand the competition). They thought their knowledge of “The Prophets” was so superior to anyone else that they rejected the idea that Jesus could be anything other than a deceiver of the people.
Now, if our relationship with God is right, we can look at this passage of scripture and understand that the enemy had already influenced the leadership into believing a lie. Because they believed the lie (arrogance will lead to being deceived), they lost an opportunity to have a relationship with Truth. Then the people, because of their varied expectations, became divided because they did not recognize Truth speaking when they heard Him.
Jesus is The Truth, and The Light, The Lamb, Bright Morning Star, Our Deliverer, Our Savior, Our Lord, The Way into the presence of The Father. If we understand John’s relationship with Jesus–that they were very close since they were related biologically, we can see how John’s insight should bring us all into relationship with God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit. We cannot have a right relationship with one, without all.
Perhaps, we can grasp this line of thought better when we look at all of the various denominations and factions of Christians who all believe they know the truth. But if they all know The Truth, would there be a need for the divisions of Christianity? If all believers had a relationship with God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit, wouldn’t we be united by the relationship with them? If we all had the same type of relationship with Them (Trinity) that we have with close family members, would we need different denominations proclaiming to be Christian in nature?
We are where we are because those in leadership positions, choose to maintain barriers and obstacles that divide rather than unite. Arrogance and superiority (influenced by the enemy) has led to the great divide of those who say they Believe in Jesus. Until we can see Truth for who He is and develop a right relationship with Him, we will remain a divided body of believers who are more concerned with promoting religion than relationship with God. The verse of scripture referenced at the beginning would provide greater clarity if it had continued with--they were divided because of Jesus and their perception of who He was.