Short Meditations in John 8: 20. Safe
Jn 8:20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.
John presents us with two things here. First, there is the location and then, second, there is the matter of why Jesus has been able to continue teaching without being arrested by the hostile authorities.
First, the location. Some translations say, “These words he spoke in the treasury,” (ESV) or, “he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury.” (NLT) It was in fact the Court of the Women, one of the outer courts of the Temple and here there were thirteen trumpet shaped chests in which people placed their gifts and nearby was the hall where the Sanhedrin (the ruling body) met.
It was, in other words, a very public place where many visitors to the Temple would come and it was also right under the feet, so to speak, of the authorities. Put those two thoughts together and you have Jesus teaching in a spot which, by its location, would have made the authorities even more touchy because it was close to them and a place where people (who they didn’t want ‘infected’ by his teaching) would come across him. It is almost as if he is treading on their toes by his close presence and his blatant teaching.
Second, still free. We saw in chapter 7 how he had first provoked arrest – “at this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come,” (Jn 7:30) and then shortly afterwards the temple authorities had sent their guards to arrest Jesus (Jn 7:32), yet after what seems some time passing, the guards give up and return without him (Jn 7:44,45). Compare our present verse: “Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.” (Jn 8:20) Jesus himself had used this same phrase to his mother at the wedding in Cana when the wine ran out: “My hour has not yet come.” (Jn 2:4)
There is within this a sense of both purpose and plan and security in this idea. There is a plan being worked out and although much of it is seen in the way Jesus provokes – just so far – we are also left wondering if the Father is not speaking in the background – “Don’t you touch him!” It is of course speculation but whatever the truth, John conveys to us this sense that this is a situation all under God’s control and nothing is going to happen prematurely. Jesus is aiming for Passover, because of the significance of that, and the plan and purpose of God that will emphasize that significance will not let it be taken out of their hands. There is a mystery here about the providence of God, the hidden hand of God that seems to be behind some of the things surrounding Jesus: seen but not seen. Amazing!
Application: Do I have a sense of my life being in God’s hands, within God’s plan? Can I have that security that He is in charge, with everything, “working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.” (Rom 8:28 Living Bible)