As I’ve studied John 7, I’ve become somewhat fixated at verse 46. This verse has spoken truth to me and has forced me to face some blind spots, some shortcomings, some failures in my relationship with my Lord Jesus. And these failures come in the form of childlike trust. Or my lack of childlike trust in my Lord.
Let me set the scene for you.
As Jesus was preaching His Word to the unbelieving crowd gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2), the Pharisees and chief priests were conspiring together to have Jesus arrested and removed from their midst. They did not want the Romans involved, at least not yet, so they ordered the Temple officers, or Temple police, to “take Him” when the opportunity presented itself and bring Him back to them for trial (John 7:32).
It appears the officers shadowed Jesus for a least one full day, maybe more, before returning to the Pharisees empty handed. In John 7:32, they are given the command to “take Him” and at least one other day passes by the time we get to John 7:37 when Jesus stands up on the last day, the great day of the feast, and offers His “thirst, come, and drink” invitation. They listened to Jesus for at least one full day. They also heard the promise of the Holy Spirit swelling to rivers of living water to those who believed (John 7:38-39). And something in the words of Jesus changed them.
The crowd who heard Jesus’ message was divided (John 7:43) as to what to think about the man. Some said He was the Prophet and others the Christ. Still others couldn’t make up their mind and argued about Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah and how many, if any, Jesus fulfilled (John 7:40-42).
But the officers weren’t divided. They listened and they knew and they returned to the Pharisees without Jesus, without excuses, empty handed. When the Pharisees demanded, “Why have you not brought Him?” (John 7:45). They simply replied, with bewildered expressions on their faces, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:46). Yes, no man had the words of truth like Jesus and no man ever said the things Jesus said.
No one. Ever.
They Believed Jesus at His Word. Do We?
I wish I could trust the words of Jesus more than I do. I wish I had the faith to believe everything He said, even the hard stuff. For example, in Matthew 6:33 Jesus promised, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” And what things was Jesus talking about? For starters, the very things I worry and fret over: my life (Matt. 6:25), how will I provide for my family (Matt. 6:31), and what the uncertain future holds (Matt. 6:34). But Jesus clearly said if I seek His Kingdom and His righteousness first, before anything else, then He will take care of my needs. As a good and gracious Lord, He will provide food, shelter and clothing for me. And not only that, but He said He knows me so well that the very hairs on my head are numbered (Matt. 10:30). Not counted, numbered. He know and loves us that much!
But that’s a hard thing to believe. And I don’t know why.
Jesus says if I, being evil, know how to give good gifts to my children, how much more will my Heavenly Father give good gifts to me? (Matt. 7:11). Why is this truth so hard to live by? Why is it so hard to believe?
These officers were listening to Jesus speak while they were strategizing for the best time, the most opportune moment, to arrest Him and bring Him back bound to the Pharisees. But His words changed their heart. His words changed their view of life, their view of true, eternal authority, and their view of their purpose, meaning, and destiny. They were no longer pacified with the temporal, passing, transitory trinkets of life— now they were enamored with the Kingdom of God, and the King Eternal.
What Did They Hear Jesus Say?
One, they head Jesus proclaim, over and over again, He was sent from God (John 7:28-29). Not sent by God, but sent from God. This implies a pre-existence with the One who sent Him. You and I can be send by God. But Jesus was sent from God. And there is a great difference between the two.
Two, they heard Jesus say His life was not His own, but was planned, ordered and arranged by God (John 7:6). Jesus said everything is in His Father’s hand and He was here to do His Father’s will. In fact, the very words these guards heard Jesus speak came from the Father, and not from Jesus (John 7:16-17). Jesus spoke and modeled true submission to authority.
Three, they heard Jesus say that He, and He alone, was the answer to man’s deepest needs. He invited the guards to come to Him and drink and let Him satisfy their thirst for peace, joy, and purpose in this life (John 7:37-38). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
Four, they heard Jesus say He comes to offer them the greatest blessing imaginable (John 7:38). He promised the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, to live inside of each of them, to take up residence as our deposit, our guarantee of our future inheritance to come in Him (Eph. 1:14).
And the officers were so mesmerized by the words of Christ, so thankful for what they heard, they went back to the Pharisees empty handed, willing to suffer whatever consequences awaited them. But they didn’t care. Because they had been in the presence of the Living Lord Jesus and had learned to trust Him at His word.
I pray that you and I, the church, would learn to do the same. To simply trust Him at His word.
After all, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:46).