Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 7:45-46 (Holman) Then the temple police came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, AWhy haven=t you brought Him?@ The police answered, ANo man ever spoke like this!@
The officers returned empty handed, restrained by a strange power, inexplicable even to themselves. While making their way to the Temple, the soldiers probably expected to complete this task easily and quickly. But when they arrived they were mesmerized, held powerless in stunned reverence.
There He stood, incarnate Deity, God in flesh. The authority of the Sanhedrin was annihilated by a Presence. The police felt a power disarm them, sensed a virtue acquitting Jesus at the bar of their consciences. They could see no justification for arresting Him.
The officers who went to take Christ were taken by Him. While seeking to arrest Jesus, He arrested them with His eloquence. A Preacher with no weapons captured fully armed officers.
Gaius Marius was a Roman general and statesman who served 7 times as Consul of the Republic. He was considered the champion of Rome, but a rival overthrew him and ordered his death. A slave was sent to do the deed. Marius, sitting in a gloomy dungeon, glared at the man and said, ACan you kill Gaius Marius?@ The slave dropped his sword and fled screaming, AI cannot kill Gaius Marius.@ The slave feared the prisoner more than he feared the jailer, the judge, and all the power of Rome. Jesus= Person was also overwhelming. The police did not arrest Him.
Before their arrival, the officers could have had no possible interest in Jesus, no reason to think well of Jesus. A positive word about Him would have jeopardized their jobs. If anything, they would have been prejudiced against Him. Their positive testimony in His behalf comes down to us as unbiased.
No one was allowed to speak well of Christ, but God ordered a witness be borne to Jesus in the presence of these vipers. The religious leaders were forced to hear words of honor about Christ. Their own officers witnessed against them.
What struck the police so forcefully that they were paralyzed? Jesus= speech. They were impressed with the authority, majesty, and power of His words. He spoke with overwhelming, convincing clearness.
History has known many famous orators. When the Greeks battled for their liberty, the voice of Demosthenes lifted their spirits. When the Republic of Rome neared collapse, the speeches of Cicero wafted the banner of freedom.
In 1765 Patrick Henry told the Virginia House of Burgesses, ACaesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell, and George the Third . . . may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it.@
Ten years later Henry spoke possibly the most famous words of our Revolution, AIs life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death.@ Yes, there have been great orators, but they pale in comparison to Jesus. ANo man ever spoke like this!@
Jesus had a wonder-working voice. Before it demons fled, diseases vanished, death lived, wind stilled, fig-trees withered. Yet He spoke so gently and simply that even little children gathered around Him. In the Garden, Mary recognized His wonderful voice. I believe I shall, too, someday.
John 7:47-49 Then the Pharisees responded to them: AAre you fooled too? Have any of the rulers believed in Him? Or any of the Pharisees? But this crowd, which doesn=t know the law, is accursed!@
The leaders scorned the officers and spoke against the common people with disdain. The word used for Athis crowd@ literally means Arabble.@ The leaders saw the common people as scoundrels and riff-raff.
These leaders, students of the Law, said there were 613 commands in the Law. They tried to earn salvation by keeping every one of them. The Pharisees added to these 613 their oral traditions to embellish the Law. The ordinary people, unable to accomplish all this nitpicking, simply gave up the effort.
Israel=s shepherds revealed their animosity for their own sheep, calling them Aaccursed,@ hateful to God. The word occurs only here in the New Testament. Phillips translates it Adamned.@ Dr. Ray Robbins said this is the only profanity in the New Testament. The supposed teachers of Heaven used language of Hell.
If the common people did not know the Law, the chief priests and Pharisees should not have been upbraiding the crowd. The fault belonged to religious leaders who should have done a better job of teaching the people.
The religious leaders= pompous attitude was foolish. Many plain, earnest, honest, uneducated disciples of Jesus dig deep into the Bible through meditation, experience, prayer, and obedience. They often have a clearer, more useful knowledge of Scripture than do some educated scholars with all their learning.
John 7:50-52 Nicodemus B the one who came to Him previously, being one of them B said to them, AOur law doesn=t judge a man before it hears from him and knows what he=s doing, does it?@ AYou aren=t from Galilee too, are you?@ they replied. AInvestigate and you will see that no prophet arises from Galilee.@
Using their own law, Nicodemus argued against the leaders. They had reproached the people as ignorant of the Law. Nicodemus made the same charge against them. The law they loved said no one was to be condemned unheard.
Nicodemus was hushed immediately. This was our author=s way of telling us Jesus= fate had already been determined. He was not going to be treated fairly.
It is a sign of an evil cause when its proponents cannot bear to hear of justice, and take it as an affront to be reminded of its maxims. All who reject justice give us cause to suspect they are on the wrong side of the law.
Nicodemus was rebuked even when his defense of Jesus was cautiously expressed. This is generally the case when we speak timidly for Christ. We may as well be out-spoken and bold. Had Nicodemus gone ahead and blurted out he believed Jesus to be a teacher from God, he would not have been more abused than he was for this feeble effort in Jesus= defense.
To Nicodemus= credit he grew bolder. Whereas Judas publicly preached Christ, but then betrayed Him, Nicodemus was quiet at first, but at the last served Jesus openly.
The rulers felt themselves too good to need Jesus. This still commonly occurs. People often don=t see their need for a Savior. The hardest part of getting a person saved can be getting them lost. If people see no need for forgiveness, they won=t seek salvation. God help us see our need for Jesus.
John 7:53-8:1-2 So each one went to his house. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn He went to the temple complex again and all the people were coming to Him. He sat down and began to teach them.
Jesus evidently had no friend in Jerusalem who had enough courage or kindness to provide Him a night=s lodging. He had to spend the night with His Father. Isolation from the world gave Jesus time to commune with Heaven.
Jesus divided His time between praying and teaching. By night He sought the Father. By day He taught the people.
Jesus withdrew to be fitted for another encounter with others. Many sigh about wretchedness, yet shun the wretched, but Jesus continued to labor among the crowds, despite their sins. May God grant us the love of Jesus for others.