By: Max Joyner
In John 7:45-53, the officers came back to the chief priests and the Pharisees empty handed. They had been sent to arrest Jesus, which should have been an easy job, but something happened during their mission.
When they were asked why they failed to bring Jesus in, their response was simple: “No one ever spoke like this man!” (7:46). They didn’t say Jesus ran away or that he and his disciples fought them off or that some kind of miraculous event occurred – they were stopped by his words.
The Pharisees weren’t interested in hearing that more people had been touched by Jesus’s teaching. Crowds of people were following Jesus and growing by the day, but they dismissed this fact. They reassured themselves that the crowds were uneducated in the law and were now cursed for their new belief. Furthermore, none of the other authorities or Pharisees believed in Jesus’ teachings. If none of us, who are educated in the law believe, they told themselves, then Jesus must be wrong.
We can see the serious flaw in their logic though: they put all their faith in themselves and their own interpretation of Scripture and the law. They refuse to consider the possibility that they could be wrong.
We also see that their claim isn’t entirely true. Throughout the book of John, we have seen Nicodemus thinking about Jesus’ teachings. He is listening to Jesus and watching his actions and unlike his fellow Pharisees, he is starting to see Jesus fulfilling prophesy after prophesy. We see Nicodemus attempt to reason with the Pharisees using their shared knowledge of the law: “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” (7:51) Nicodemus is trying to calm the Pharisees down a little bit and reminds them that under their own laws, Jesus is entitled to a fair trial.
It is clear by their response that by now the Pharisees have closed off their hearts, saying “are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee” (7:52)
Anyone who has studied the law as much as these men know that Jesus deserves a trial first, but they refuse to admit it. Anyone who has studied the Scriptures as much as these men know that a prophet–Jonah–has come from Galilee. At this point the Pharisees are acting like difficult children, refusing to face facts and admit that they are wrong.
When I read this short passage, a spectrum sticks out to me. It’s a spectrum with one end totally against Jesus and on the other end the people that have accepted him as their Lord and Savior. Pharisees and disciples on each end with Nicodemus and the guards somewhere in between.
We all know people on the wrong end of the spectrum and we know that it’s a dead end. Sadly, some of those people will never leave that spot, but this passage shows us that there are also people who are curious and whose hearts are beginning to soften: no one ever spoke like this man!
Today, let’s pray that Jesus will use us to help those people get closer to the right side of the spectrum.