Short Meditations in John 7: 47. Blame
Jn 7:47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted.
We human beings have a way of responding to those who displease us. It is called demeaning them. These poor guards have been sent on an errand. Arrest Jesus the carpenter, but when they get there they are left wondering is he something considerably more than a mere carpenter? They heard his words and saw how he disarmed the Pharisees and Sadducees and Herodians who had also been sent by their masters to bring him down.
They had all failed and so these men – who were not theologians, not holders of specific religious beliefs, came back empty handed. As far as they were concerned they were justified in not being able to do what the Temple authorities wanted, but in the eyes of those authorities, and specifically the Pharisees who gathered with them and were such a strong voice, they were failures, and you know what we do with failures – we demean them even more!
See those opening words, “You mean”. They are words of incredulity, of disbelief of apparent amazement that people use when they want you to realise that from their perspective (from their high moral ground!) that is almost unbelievable that anyone could be so gullible, so naïve, so susceptible, as to be duped by this con man, this trickster, this false prophet, this false messiah. When they say, “You mean,” they are implying, “Oh, come on, you’re not trying to tell us that you are so stupid that you’ve been taken in by this character! You can’t be that stupid, surely?”
And there it is, the great put down – you’ve been deceived, you’ve let yourselves be conned, but in the midst of all this demeaning these poor guards, there is something that is always pushed out the door on these occasions – the truth that is being conveniently ignored. The truth is that Jesus HAS been speaking like no one else speaks and he has been doing the miraculous and healing many people, and you can’t just write that off, you can’t just rubbish that – unless you are a hypocritical pharisee with an agenda of your own that is being threatened by the truth. So let’s just ignore the truth, let’s put down these ineffective unofficial guardians of the law of the Temple, agents of the hierarchy who have apparently become carriers of bad news.
Have you caught something of the might of evil that undergirds all this? These are not just a few harmless words from a short verse in the middle of a chapter; they convey the might, the wrath and the anger of this hostile bunch of human beings against God. ‘Deceived’ is a word that just does not adequately convey the awfulness of this state of these ‘guardians of the Law’, but it is the truth.