John 7:45-53: No One Ever Spoke Like Jesus
November 2, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
A study in obfuscation and self-deceit is before us—combined with edifying insights as to the true nature of Jesus and what draws us to him. The chief priests and the Pharisees want to know why the officers did not arrest Jesus. They had him in their grasp. They could have brought him to the Pharisees for further investigation, trial or punishment. Instead, they did nothing. Why?
Their answer is astonishing: “No one ever spoke like this man!” Part of the revelation of who Jesus is resides in the extraordinary facet of his teaching. Truly, no one ever spoke thus. Jesus’ teaching, the sheer brilliance of his communication and content, the combination of earthy illustrations and doctrinal depth, clarity and compelling insight all rolled into one, this has never been surpassed, and had never been heard before. Chrysostom was great; Spurgeon was amazing; Whitefield a genius; Cicero remarkable; but in Jesus we meet Someone Other, Beyond, and Better, in a different category altogether.
This is at least partly why one of the best approaches to sharing Christ with someone is simply to have them read one of the Gospels. There we hear his voice—and most are awestruck by the authentic voice of the Author of all. For what makes Jesus speak like no other man is that he is not merely a man.
The Pharisees then begin to obfuscate. They sneer at the officers—“Have you also been deceived?” They appeal to positional authority—none of the religious elite have believed in Jesus. And then they dismiss Jesus’ popularity by claiming that the crowd knows nothing about the law of the Bible and are accursed by their lack of knowledge, and presumably their lack of following the niceties of the Pharisees’ interpretation of the law.
When someone is convicted by the truth, they will often appeal to false logic: they will use authorities to hide the reasoning, they will construct straw men to see off any weaknesses in their position. Let us be careful to allow God’s Word to do its work in us, and not hide from his loving gaze behind fig leafs of fake and false obfuscation.
Nicodemus, who it appears has become a secret disciple of Jesus, or at least a friend of his cause, seeks to appeal to the Pharisees based upon their own terms. He asks whether the law which they have asserted judges a man without first giving him a hearing. In other words, “innocent until proven guilty.” But once more the Pharisees sneer—“Are you from Galilee too?” (Galilee was probably a despised region of the country, certainly not part of the elite Jerusalem set)—and they expose their ignorance by not realizing where Jesus was truly born, thinking that he entirely originated from Galilee.
If even Jesus was not believed by everyone, and opposed by some, we too who follow Jesus will have our opponents. The culture will not always be our friend, and there may well be individuals, even religious individuals, who do not like our passion for Christ and his Word. This is no excuse for rudeness or insensitivity to our opponents—Jesus calls us to love our enemies—but it is an encouragement. The victory of the resurrection, as well as the cross, is ours in Christ, and he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. And we are to take heart that despite these opponents, Jesus has overcome the world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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