Short Meditations in John 7: 52. Rebuffed by Blindness
Jn 7:52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”
There are two aspects to this closing verse. The first is the attitude behind it, and the second is the absence of knowledge that is revealed in it.
First then, the attitude. It is clearly hostile. The ‘They’ must be the other Pharisees (see v.47) who had been chiding the guards who had returned to the Temple without Jesus, but what is interesting is their comment, “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him?” (v.48) because Nicodemus is one “of the rulers” (see Jn 3:1). Clearly the contact Nicodemus had had with Jesus was still not known. Because it is the Pharisees of Jerusalem who are either part of the Sanhedrin or who simply mix with the rulers, we should not be surprised at their hostility which is seen again and again in the Gospels. The have closed minds because of their defensive outlook in respect of Jesus who had numerous times showed them up for being the hypocrites that they were.
Second, this absence of knowledge, which is strange. You would have thought that these guardians of the Law would have known better – for we have considered this subject of ignorance earlier in studies 41 & 42 where we noted the Isaiah prophecy about a great light coming to Galilee, surely a messianic reference, but they still seem ignorant of it. However note carefully their words: “you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”
That speaks about origins. The fact that Jesus had been ministering in Galilee doesn’t mean that is where he came from. No, we know from the Gospels that his parents previously lived in Nazareth and later returned there, but Jesus had been born in Bethlehem, just as the prophets had said. Yes, Jesus had grown up in Nazareth but seems to have used Capernaum as his home base for his ministry around the whole area of Galilee.
Now one suspects that the Pharisees probably knew all this – they would have investigated this troublesome itinerant preacher who had been annoying them for some time. In which case they are splitting hairs, we would say today, being picky about the truth, slightly bending it in fact.
They present to us a challenge about always seeking out and faithfully speaking the truth, and not bending it for our own purposes. The challenge is, I suggest, first to ensure we are good scholars of the Bible, that we know what we are talking about when defending our faith, as well as knowing what it says about our daily lives.