Read: John 7:45-53
Have you ever gone out on a limb for someone? Have you done it in the heat of the moment, without even preparing what you’re going to say? I can think of a few times where I’ve instinctively vouched for a friend, despite being able to articulate myself well. It can be an intimidating, no doubt, to speak up for someone despite the consequences.
In John 7:45-53, the temple police and a prominent Jewish authorities provide a witness about Jesus in the face of the angry Jewish authorities. After Jesus’ proclamation on the last day of the Feast of Booths, the enraged Jewish authorities come looking for the temple police. They furiously chew out the temple officers for not arresting Jesus like they had initially ordered.
“Why did you not bring him?” the authorities cry.
The officers respond with a simple defense, “No one ever spoke like this man!”
The officers were not able to arrest Jesus, instead they attest to the power of His words. This infuriates the Jewish authorities who go on to curse the Jewish crowd for their supposed ignorance of the Law of God. One man, Nicodemus, dares to contest their demand to have Jesus arrested. Nicodemus, as we are told by John in chapter 3, was a man of prominent standing among the Jewish religious leaders. As a well respected religious leader, this is the second time in John’s Gospel that Nicodemus puts his honor on the line in order to seek to know Jesus. The first time Nicodemus interacted with Jesus, he came to Him at night in secrecy. This time, Nicodemus vouches for Jesus in front of the authorities at His own expense. He says, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?”
This question holds significance beyond Nicodemus’ attempted half-defense of Jesus. Scholars have noted that it’s rather unusual that Nicodemus suggests that the law calls for a hearing in which the accused must give an account for “what he does.” Essentially, Nicodemus is not only suggesting a fair trial for Jesus. He’s suggesting that the Pharisees try to understand what Jesus is actually saying and doing. Nicodemus couples the practical execution of the Law with understanding, which is exactly what Jesus has spent so much time trying to point the Jewish people. In short, the temple officials witness to Jesus by simply attesting to the power of His words. Even though these men are immediately ridiculed by the Pharisees, they reflect a proper and heartfelt response to Jesus: a sense of awe and a desire to know more.
If you’ve felt shame for the choices you’ve made to follow God or embarrassed about not being eloquent when explaining the Gospel, rest today with this in mind: The Spirit reads the words of your heart. God Almighty needs no human defense. You are made complete in Christ, the bearer of your shame.