Short Meditations in John 8: 2. A new day
Jn 8:2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.
I don’t know if you have ever seen the ‘Flashmob’ phenomena where a group materialize in a shopping mall and either sing or perform a dance routine and people stop and gather to watch. I catch a slight sense of a similar thing in this verse here today. “At dawn he appeared.” No fanfare, no big announcements, he just appears. It is early morning – dawn – Jesus is making the most of the day. Of course depending on the time of the year, it may be that he got under way before the sun got really hot. I have family in the Caribbean and the children on sports day start very early and it is over by eleven in the morning – simply to avoid the heat of the day. I don’t know if there was anything of that in Jesus’ thinking or simply that he wanted to get under way as early as possible.
It is in the temple courts, the area surrounding the main area of activity and it is the place where people had free access and could come and go and, of course, it was the place where, yesterday, he had been teaching and was confronted by the authorities. It is clear he is not put off by them; they had not bested him in the debates yesterday and so he has nothing to fear. He comes back to the place of confrontation, fearlessly.
And very soon, as presumably he stood there with his disciples around him, the word went out that he was back and the crowd formed. It is unclear how many of them understood the import of the things he had been saying the day before but he has appeared as one who isn’t afraid of the religious authorities and the crowd had obviously liked the way he had stood his ground yesterday and although temple guards had been sent to arrest him – and that would have been known – nothing had happened. He had stood his ground and they returned to their religious masters having failed at their commanded task. There is nothing like seeing disliked authority rebuffed for good street entertainment and so, although it is only speculation, it is probably a main reason why the crowd gathered so quickly.
And then he sat down. The show is on. This is how the teachers taught, sitting down and their pupils or disciples either sat or stood around listening. The scene is set for the next round in the game (at least that is how the crowd might have thought about it). He starts teaching (we’re not told what) and people in the crowd no doubt looked behind them. How long would it be before the religious authorities turned up again to try again to bring down this preacher from Galilee. It’s about to start. What form will it take today?