Without a lot of opening fanfare, Keith gets right to the focus of the episode, right after a quick promo for the Christian Podcast Community. We wrap up this chapter in John 7 with a look at the religious leaders coming a little unglued. Betrayed by the confusion of the crowd, as seen in earlier sessions, and now betrayed by their own security force and even one of their own.
Spine of a Bible ca. 2001, “Used with permission from Microsoft.”
The officers who were sent back in verse 32, now return empty handed. At the command of the religious leaders, they had authority to haul in prisoners, jail them, and take them under force if needed. Why had they disobeyed? how could Jesus have slipped through their fingers?
The crowd was beginning to believe, and wondered that the leaders let him teach. Remember the events of verse 27 when the crowd began to wonder if they supported him?
Matthew 7:29 (ESV)
for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
Did the officers also wonder at the authority of his teaching? Were they beginning to believe, or see a higher authority in Jesus than in the religious leaders?
There had been much muttering, murmuring, and division in the people. Now the guard is being accused of this. To hear Jesus was to believe. Even the worst of sinners could be healed, reconciled and believe. Only the stubborn, hard hearted ones kept turning a blind eye, and a deaf ear. The stubborness reached even as high as the most educated in religion.
In Jewish history, an enemy king threatened that no one could keep the Israelites from falling to his hand. God still supported Hezekiah, and defeated the enemy king instead. As summarized from 2 Kings 18.
Is the status quo right? Should we seek to be on the right side of history? How about if we find out what God wants and join him in doing his work.
Even to his death the religious leaders called Jesus an imposter. Matthew 27:63 Paul puts it this way:
2 Corinthians 6:8 (ESV)
through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true;
In verse 26, the crowd had their doubts, thinking Jesus was being accepted, and getting mixed signals from the religious elite. We’ll find that Nicodemus was on hand, as seen coming up in verse 50. From his description and taunts from the other leaders, he was inclined to believe Jesus. He may not have been the only of these educated leaders to believe.
John 12:42 (ESV)
Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue;
Jeremiah 5:4-5 (ESV)
4 Then I said, “These are only the poor; they have no sense; for they do not know the way of the LORD, the justice of their God.
5 I will go to the great and will speak to them, for they know the way of the LORD, the justice of their God.” But they all alike had broken the yoke; they had burst the bonds.
Matthew 11:25 (ESV)
At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;
Acts 6:7 (ESV)
And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
God makes the wisdom of the world foolishness,. He chose the foolish to shame the wise and the strong. If these rulers would have understood, they would not have wanted to crucify Jesus. If they refused to be taught by their fellow, common men of the crowd, what about by the teaching of the prophets? To the religious leaders anyone beneath their station was in utter sin. There was nothing to be learned from them. John 9:34
Isaiah 5:21 (ESV)
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!