John 7:40-49 NRSVue
40When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.” 41Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? 42Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” 43So there was a division in the crowd because of him. 44Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
45Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not arrest him?” 46The police answered, “Never has anyone spoken like this!” 47Then the Pharisees replied, “Surely you have not been deceived, too, have you? 48Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49But this crowd, which does not know the law, they are accursed.”
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Some thoughts on this scripture
The prejudice against Jesus is strong because of his hometown in Galilee. It is based on ignorance. Because they believe he is not from Bethlehem, they refuse to believe he is the Christ. Much prejudice is based on ignorance and on half-truths. Prejudice grows where we refuse to give a man or a woman a hearing, as Nicodemus suggests. Prayer opens the heart when we bring the ones we resist into our prayer. Bring someone I don't like into the presence of the crucified Lord, and my attitude will, even gradually, change. Love of God, offered and received, softens hardened prejudices.
Many were amazed at the power of the words of Jesus. They whispered to each other that nobody else spoke like him. His authority both influenced them and challenged them. Many tried to put him down for where he came from, but their disbelief doesn't influence everyone else. He was a sign of contradiction.
Some people who heard Jesus could not believe that god might work powerfully in such ordinary and familiar circumstances. I pray that I may look again at my own situation, realising that God is already at work even as I pray for an increase in God's grace.
The police who were sent by the senior officials came to their own conclusions and recognized the truth of Jesus message. The senior officials were blinded by the contempt they had for the crowds. I pray for the humility that I need to listen for and to recognise the voice of God.
I pray for those in public office who may be tempted to follow orders blindly or to lose sight of the dignity of those they serve.