OFFICERS SENT TO ARREST JESUS
NICODEMUS SPEAKS IN JESUS’ BEHALF
Jesus is still in Jerusalem for the Festival of Tabernacles (or, Booths). He is pleased that “many of the crowd put faith in him.” That does not please the religious leaders, however. They send officers, who function as religious police, to arrest him. (John 7:31, 32) Yet, Jesus does not try to hide.
Rather, Jesus keeps on teaching publicly in Jerusalem, saying: “I will be with you a little while longer before I go to the One who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me, and where I am you cannot come.” (John 7:33, 34) The Jews do not understand, so they say among themselves: “Where does this man intend to go, so that we will not find him? He does not intend to go to the Jews dispersed among the Greeks and teach the Greeks, does he? What does he mean when he says, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me, and where I am you cannot come’?” (John 7:35, 36) Jesus, however, is speaking of his death and resurrection to heaven, and his enemies cannot follow him there.
The seventh day of the festival arrives. Each morning of the festival, a priest has poured out water taken from the Pool of Siloam, so that it flowed to the base of the temple’s altar. Likely reminding the people of this practice, Jesus cries out: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever puts faith in me, just as the scripture has said: ‘From deep within him streams of living water will flow.’”
Jesus is referring to what will happen when his disciples are anointed with holy spirit and called to be in line for heavenly life. This anointing occurs after Jesus’ death. Beginning on the day of Pentecost the following year, streams of life-giving water begin to flow as spirit-anointed disciples share the truth with people.
In response to Jesus’ teaching, some say: “This really is the Prophet,” evidently referring to the foretold prophet greater than Moses. Others say: “This is the Christ.” But some argue: “The Christ is not coming out of Galilee, is he? Does the scripture not say that the Christ is coming from the offspring of David and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?”
So the crowd is divided. Though some want Jesus arrested, no one lays a hand on him. When the officers return to the religious leaders without Jesus, the chief priests and Pharisees ask: “Why did you not bring him in?” The officers reply: “Never has any man spoken like this.” The religious leaders angrily resort to ridicule and name-calling: “You have not been misled also, have you? Not one of the rulers or of the Pharisees has put faith in him, has he? But this crowd who do not know the Law are accursed people.”
At this, Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, dares to speak in Jesus’ behalf. Some two and a half years earlier, Nicodemus came to Jesus at night and expressed faith in him. Now Nicodemus says: “Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and learns what he is doing, does it?” What is their defensive reply? “You are not also out of Galilee, are you? Search and see that no prophet is to be raised up out of Galilee.”
The Scriptures do not directly say that a prophet would come out of Galilee. Yet God’s Word did point to the Christ as coming from there; it prophesied that “a great light” would be seen in “Galilee of the nations.” (Isaiah 9:1, 2; Matthew 4:13-17) Furthermore, as foretold, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and he is an offspring of David. Although the Pharisees may be aware of this, they are likely responsible for spreading many of the misconceptions that people have about Jesus.
How did Jesus’ teaching cause soldiers sent to arrest him to return empty-handed?