They Fail to Arrest Him
WHILE the Festival of Tabernacles is still in progress, the religious leaders send out police officers to arrest Jesus. He does not attempt to hide. Instead, Jesus keeps on teaching publicly, saying: “I continue a little while longer with you before I go to him that sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me, and where I am you cannot come.”
The Jews do not understand, and so they inquire among themselves: “Where does this man intend going, so that we shall not find him? He does not intend to go to the Jews dispersed among the Greeks and teach the Greeks, does he? What does this saying mean that he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me, and where I am you cannot come’?” Jesus, of course, is talking about his approaching death and resurrection to life in heaven, where his enemies cannot follow.
The seventh and last day of the festival arrives. Each morning of the festival, a priest has poured out water, which he took from the Pool of Siloam, so that it flowed to the base of the altar. Likely reminding the people of this daily ceremony, Jesus cries out: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He that puts faith in me, just as the Scripture has said, ‘Out from his inmost part streams of living water will flow.’”
Actually, Jesus is here speaking about the grand consequences when the holy spirit would be poured out. The following year this pouring out of holy spirit occurs at Pentecost. There, streams of living water flow forth when the 120 disciples begin ministering to the people. But until then, there is no spirit in the sense that none of Christ’s disciples are anointed with holy spirit and called to heavenly life.
In response to Jesus’ teaching, some begin saying: “This is for a certainty The Prophet,” evidently referring to the prophet greater than Moses who was promised to come. Others say: “This is the Christ.” But others protest: “The Christ is not actually coming out of Galilee, is he? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ is coming from the offspring of David, and from Bethlehem the village where David used to be?”
So a division develops among the crowd. Some want Jesus arrested, but no one lays a hand on him. When the police officers return without Jesus, the chief priests and Pharisees ask: “Why is it you did not bring him in?”
“Never has another man spoken like this,” the officers reply.
Filled with anger, the religious leaders stoop to ridicule, misrepresentation, and name-calling. They sneer: “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 that does not know the Law are accursed people.”
At this, Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews (that is, a member of the Sanhedrin), dares speak in Jesus’ behalf. You may recall that two and a half years previously, Nicodemus came to Jesus at night and expressed faith in him. Now Nicodemus says: “Our law does not judge a man unless first it has heard from him and come to know what he is doing, does it?”
The Pharisees are angered even more that one of their own should defend Jesus. “You are not also out of Galilee, are you?” they caustically remark. “Search and see that no prophet is to be raised up out of Galilee.”
Although the Scriptures do not directly say that a prophet would come out of Galilee, they do point to the Christ as coming from there, saying that “a great light” would be seen in this region. Furthermore, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and he was an offspring of David. While the Pharisees are probably aware of this, they are likely responsible for spreading the misconceptions that people have about Jesus. John 7:32-52; Isaiah 9:1, 2; Matthew 4:13-17.
▪ What happens every morning of the festival, and how may Jesus be drawing attention to this?
▪ Why do the officers fail to arrest Jesus, and how do the religious leaders respond?
▪ Who is Nicodemus, what is his attitude toward Jesus, and how is he treated by his fellow Pharisees?
▪ What evidence is there that the Christ would come out of Galilee?