John 7:32-53

Read: John 7:32-53

After Jesus had rebuffed the authorities in the temple, they sent the temple guards to arrest him. Jesus says something that sounds somewhat enigmatic, in that they won’t be able to find him. They supposed he was going to flee the country and teach Greeks in the dispersion. A number of Jews had been scattered throughout the Roman world after they came out of exile some hundreds of years before. They did however preserve their religion and customs as they moved away from Palestine. The synagogue system was set up as a result. What Jesus was really talking that one day he would return to the Father, and they could not find him there.

At the end of the Festival of Booths, Jesus starts teaching again about Living Water again, the same message that he had given the woman at the well in John 4:7-13. Jesus says this in regards to the Spirit, but the Spirit had not been given yet. The Spirit of God was promised to come after Jesus was crucified (John 14:16-31). The people in Jerusalem did not know what to think about Jesus as a whole. Some thought he was a Prophet, and other thought he was the Christ. They debate the Scripture in saying that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem and would be of David. The guards did not arrest Jesus because he spoke with authority. The Pharisees then accuse them of being led astray by Jesus’ teaching. They say the crowds are ignorant and accursed because they do not know the law, and that none of the Pharisees believed him – a direct appeal to their own authority. They then suggest that Jesus was from Galilee, and the Scriptures don’t say anything about a prophet coming from Galilee.

But the Pharisees were wrong on at least six counts:

  • First, they appealed to their own authority, a blatant fallacy in its own right and vindicates what Jesus was saying earlier in that one who speak on his own authority seeks his own glory (John 7:4).
  • Second, they make and argument from silence in that the Scriptures say nothing about a prophet coming out of Galilee. This does not mean that one will not.
  • Third, they were just plain wrong: Matthew 4:15-16 ascribes Isaiah 9:1-2 to Jesus, describing the region of Galilee as a place that will see a great light. Also Jesus was of David’s line and was born in Bethlehem.
  • Fourth, the Pharisees had been exposed, and they knew it, but they were jumping to conclusions. Nicodemus attempts to intercede on Jesus’ behalf, saying they were making a hasty generalization without hearing Jesus out.
  • Fifth, they poison the well against the masses saying they are uneducated and attempt to associate the guards with them — these are ad hominem attacks.
  • Sixth, they attempt to silence Nicodemus by accusing him as being a sympathize– a genetic fallacy.

What is certain is that the Pharisees were backed against a wall and were doing anything they could to wiggle they’re way out. John says that they went home after this, perhaps in an attempt to save face because they knew they had been put to shame.

Jesus’ message is truth, and when he speaks, no falsehood comes out of his mouth. Those who oppose Jesus will feel exposed by the truth. A Christian’s job is to speak the truth. But at the same time, a person should also be willing to be corrected. The Pharisees were unwilling to be corrected, so they dug themselves in deeper such that they were willing to say and do anything so they did not have to admit they were wrong – even lying about things. Christians should maintain a great deal of humility such that they can be taught, but not as to be carried away by whims. The anchor Christians have is the Bible from which doctrine comes, and with the Holy Spirit, Christians can arrive at the truth (2 Timothy 3:14-17). But do not discount the work of faithful teachers either. The spiritual mature are to correct those who are in error (Galatians 6:1, 2 Timothy 4:2).  The ones under authority should be willing to be corrected by those who are over them.

Lord, help me to understand and speak truth!