Who’s Really Deceived?
Read John 7:45-52 (ESV)
The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”
What do the Pharisees accuse the officers of? What is ironic about that accusation?
One of the most common negative (and false) assumptions about Christians is that we are all simple-minded folk who haven’t done our research and have naively bought into the greatest hoax of all time. Some academics attempt to portray us as uneducated or deceived, refusing to believe the reality in front of us. But the irony here is that we are not the ones who are deceived. We aren’t the ones who lack evidence of the truth and we aren’t the ones who need to do more research into the facts of the Jesus situation.
In today’s verses, we see the Pharisees ridicule the officers whom they had sent to arrest Jesus. But the temple police weren’t successful at bringing Him in. Why? Because they were amazed at what He said. The temple police were not uneducated thugs. They were from the tribe of Levi which was set apart for service in the temple. They likely would have been educated in the law and when they heard Jesus speak, they were captivated and curious. They recognized that His teaching was unique, full of power and authority. And yet, they were told to arrest Him. They probably felt stuck and unsure of how to proceed. In their hesitation, they missed their opportunity and failed to nab Him.
Predictably, the response of the Pharisees was an arrogant one. They accused the officers of being deceived just like all of the other uneducated simpletons in the crowd who didn’t know the law. In essence, they said, “If He really is the Messiah, don’t you think the religious authorities like us would have recognized that and believed in Him?” In other words, trust the experts.
At this point, Nicodemus is back on the scene. We first read about Nicodemus in John 3 when he came to Jesus under the cover of darkness and Jesus told Him that he must be born again. We don’t know for sure whether or not Nicodemus had fully embraced Jesus as the Messiah at this point but we do know that he felt compelled to help Him somehow. So, Nicodemus reminded the religious authorities that Jesus had the right to a fair trial and due process.
But instead of saying, “You know what? You are right.” The religious leaders insulted Nicodemus and implied that he didn’t know the law or the Scriptures even though he was a fellow Pharisee. They claimed that he should know that “no prophet arises from Galilee.”
But here’s the irony—at least one prophet did come from Galilee—Jonah! Some scholars think that other prophets came from Galilee as well, possibly Nahum and Hosea, among others. Plus, as we mentioned last week, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not Galilee. The very city the Messiah was supposed to come from according to Micah 5:2. This fact would have been documented in genealogies. So who really didn’t know their stuff? Who really needed to “search and see”? Who really was deceived?
Friends, there is plenty of evidence that Jesus is the Messiah. Those of us who have believed in Him and placed our faith in Him as our Lord and Savior are not the ones who are deceived. If you haven’t yet placed your faith in Him, I urge you to seek the truth. Don’t make the same mistake the Jewish religious leaders made and assume that you know better. Humbly “search and see” that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of the world.
Lord, thank You for Your promise that if we seek with all our hearts, we will find You (Jeremiah 29:13). Thank You for giving us evidence to show us that You are God. But most of all, thank You for softening my heart toward You and opening up my eyes to see the truth. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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