Sometimes those who are sure that they are right are tragically wrong instead. John presents many (but not all) Jewish leaders as opponents of Jesus. To these, he is a troublesome, unorthodox, charismatic teacher who threatens their false peace with Rome. Yet many of the common people who are drawn to Jesus consider him the Messiah, the deliverer God promised. The anxiety of the leaders and the hopes of the people clash during the Festival of Booths.
Leaders send Temple police to arrest Jesus. But when they try, he either slips away from them or they are reluctant to take him into custody in front of the crowds.
When pressed about returning empty-handed, they answer, “Never has anyone spoken like this!” (v. 46). The leaders accuse them being deceived, like the ill-informed crowd. They ask: “Has anyone of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him?” (v. 48). The leaders’ arrogance and self-confidence stem from unmistakable criteria: no one who matters, no one with credentials, has been fooled by Jesus.
One of their own, though, questions their certainty and tries to slow their rush to judgment. In John 3, Nicodemus goes to Jesus privately and humbly to learn from him. He knows after listening receptively to Jesus that he has wisdom worth pondering. His fellow leaders feel secure in their certainty that Jesus is not a reason for hope; he is nothing more than a problem to be solved.
I sometimes wonder what truths my unexamined certainties and unquestioned assumptions keep me from seeing, hearing, and feeling about the world, myself, and God. How might what I “know” keep me from discovering more about Jesus?
How do my unexplored assumptions and preconceptions keep me from growing in my understanding?
God, clarify my vision, deepen my insight, open my ears, and tune my heart to know more of who you are and how to love as you do. Amen.