Debating The Person Of Jesus (john 7.40-48)

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40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.

Jesus’ challenges to the authorities and his incredible claims were received rather well. Some said, perhaps he is the prophet who was to announce the Messiah. Others said that he was indeed the Messiah. There seemed to be a general lack of knowledge about Jesus’ origins, because we also see other people saying they rejected Jesus’ claims on the grounds that he was not born in Bethlehem of Judea. One of the very interesting observations here is that the author of this Gospel does not feel any need to correct this misconception. Doubtless he knew that Jesus was in fact born in Bethlehem of Judea. Perhaps his point was simply to show that the public conversation about Jesus had picked up momentum, regardless of how people regarded the claims of Jesus.

 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. 45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” 46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied. 47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted.

When the temple guard, made up of Levitical priests, returned without having arrested Jesus and admitted that they themselves were impressed with Jesus, they met with a sharp rebuke based on the charge of disloyalty.

48 “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”

This de-legitimization of the Temple guard’s inaction was also challenged by the statement (also a mistaken one) that none of the Pharisees who were part of Sanhedrin accepted Jesus. It is of particular interest to this author to see how John treats this misconception. Instead of arguing that indeed there were pharisaic members of the Sanhedrin who displayed a profound interest in Jesus and his ministry (Rabbi, we know that you have come from God! (John 3)), John simply showed how  those who rejected Jesus dismissed the testimony of those who voiced even tentative support of Jesus. Nicodemus is a case in point. When Nicodemus asked for the Sanhedrin’s hearing about Jesus, challenging its prejudgment as unlawful, they also accused him. The message was clear. If someone, regardless of their position, thought something positive about Jesus they could not voice it without being attacked.

© By Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, Ph.D.


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  1. Jason

    question ,the name YAH SHUA , can you elaborate. thank you

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Hi, Jason. Yeshua does not come from YA shua (YHWH will save), but instead from He will save. Yeshua and Yeshu (its Aramaic version according to the ancient inscriptions) is therefore He (meaning God) will save.

  2. gustavo vargas angel

    I agree totally with Fred, and as Thomas said” Gd does not dwell in temples made by hands of men, but in the heart of men”, but priests, bishops, cardenals and others , including rabbis(seems not all of them) think who they are the owners of Hashem, who really is for mankind at all. Blessings¡

  3. Fred Aguelo

    Hi Dr. Eli,

    It’s quite disappointing to see the blindness of the Judean religious elite when they said, “Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.” They even ignored the comment of Nicodemus that they first investigate. This is very basic in their law. However, I find not much difference in the response of present church leaders when their authority is threatened. Many become emotional and out of touch with spiritual reality even ignoring the counsel of Scripture. If even a donkey can be used by G-D to speak in His behalf, why is it farfetch for G-D to send a Galilean? If we put G-D in a box, aren’t we ignoring His prerogative to do new things? As long as it does not violate His will in Scripture, why not?


    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thank you, Fred.


  4. Susan W

    A few words in this work have risen above the page. “When the temple guard, made up of Levitical priests ” “returned without having arrested Jesus….” Is “this” a common, well known fact that the Temple guards were Levitical priests? real priests? (not just from the Levitical tribe of Israel) or am I just behind in the news? It just seems to shed new light on the whole picture.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Susan, it is not a common knowledge, but it should be. You are right it changes the interpretation!

      Look at 1 Chronicles 26: “26 These are the assignments of work for the Levites who served as Temple guards. From the clan of Korah there was Meshelemiah son of Kore, of the family of Asaph. 2 He had seven sons, listed in order of age: Zechariah, Jediael, Zebadiah, Jathniel, 3 Elam, Jehohanan, and Eliehoenai. 4 There was also Obed Edom, whom God blessed by giving him eight sons, listed in order of age: Shemaiah, Jehozabad, Joah, Sachar, Nethanel, 5 Ammiel, Issachar, and Peullethai.6-7 Obed Edom’s oldest son, Shemaiah, had six sons: Othni, Rephael, Obed, Elzabad, Elihu, and Semachiah. They were important men in their clan because of their great ability; the last two were especially talented… 12 The Temple guards were divided into groups, according to families, and they were assigned duties in the Temple, just as the other Levites were.four, and on the south, four. Four guards were stationed at the storerooms daily, two at each storeroom. 18 Near the western pavilion there were four guards by the road and two at the pavilion itself. 19 This is the assignment of guard duty to the clan of Korah and the clan of Merari.