Today’s readings.. (2 Chronicles 5,6), (Ezekiel 41), (John 7)
The Chief Priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest Jesus, but they returned having failed. The drama of this event is in our reading today in John 7. They are rebuked, “Why did you not bring him?” [v.45] and respond “”No one ever spoke like this man.” We are given no detail of the scene, but we imagine these officers standing within the crowd of people who were absorbed in what Jesus was saying for “he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” [Matt.7 v.29]
No fiction writer could have invented the character of Jesus, it is impossible for anyone with a reasoning mind to read the Gospel records and not realize that these accounts have an overwhelming ring of truth about them. So we picture the dilemma of these officers sent on their impossible task of arresting Jesus. What was the real reason his arrest was sought? Pilate realized the real reason; in Matthew’s Gospel it says “he knew that it was out of envy they had delivered him up” [ch. 27 v.18] – and in the end, in order to secure his arrest they had needed the help of a traitor and the cover of darkness at the midnight hour coming “with swords and clubs” [Matt 26 v.55] in order to make their arrest.
Before the officers came on their unsuccessful mission the crowd had been debating who he was for “some of the people said, ‘This really is the prophet’, others said ‘this is the Christ’ But some said, ‘Is the Christ to come from Galilee?” [40,41] This debate continues to this day – and we recognise that it is the will of God that it should be so; his birth in Bethlehem had been concealed. Why was this?
Are we going to complain because that which is true is not immediately made plain? Are we going to use this as an excuse for not believing? The character of Jesus and the impact he had – and then left on the earth after his death and resurrection – is sufficient evidence for all who genuinely seek to find and believe. Truly “no one ever spoke like this man” and we turn away from reading of what he said, and what his followers were inspired to write, to our eternal loss.