Lectio Divina: John 7:40-53
Season of Lent
1) Opening prayer
when people encountered Your Son,
He became a source of division:
He affected their lives
one way or another. May we accept Him fully
and empty ourselves to make room for Him
in our everyday life, even when it hurts.
Help us, that with Him
we may always seek and do Your will.
We ask You this through Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - John 7:40-53
Some in the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said, "This is truly the Prophet." Others said, "This is the Christ." But others said, "The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he? Does not Scripture say that the Christ will be of David's family and come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?" So a division occurred in the crowd because of him. Some of them even wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. So the guards went to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, "Why did you not bring him?" The guards answered, "Never before has anyone spoken like this man." So the Pharisees answered them, "Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed." Nicodemus, one of their members who had come to him earlier, said to them, "Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?" They answered and said to him, "You are not from Galilee also, are you? Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee." Then each went to his own house.
• In chapter 7, John confirms that there were diverse opinions and much confusion among the people regarding Jesus. The relatives thought something (Jn 7:2-5) and the people thought something different (Jn 7:12). Some said: “He is a prophet!” (Jn 7:40). Others said: “He leads the people astray!” (Jn 7:12). Some praised Him: “He is a good man!” (Jn 7:12). Others criticized Him: “He has not been educated, has not studied!” (Jn 7:15). Each one had his own arguments, taken from the Bible or from Tradition. But nobody remembered the Messiah Servant, announced by Isaiah (Is 42:1-9; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; 52:13; 53:12; 61:1-2). Today, too, there is much discussion on religion, and all take their arguments from the Bible. As in the past, it happens many times that little ones are deceived by the discourses of the great ones and, some times, even by the discourses of those who belong to the Church. It is important to understand the full picture, and not be led astray by personal interpretations or the person sitting next to us. It is a personal responsibility to seek and learn every day, while discerning the authenticity, history, and meaning of what we see, hear, or find.
• John 7:40-44: The confusion among the people. The reaction of the people is very diverse. Some say: He is the prophet. Others: He is the Messiah; the Christ. Others claim: He cannot be because the Messiah will come from Bethlehem and He comes from Galilee! These diverse ideas on the Messiah produce division and confrontation. There were some who wanted to take Him, to arrest Him, but they did not do it. Perhaps because they were afraid of the people (cf. Mt 14:2). There were many sources of authority at the time, both formal and informal, from the Roman occupation, to the Elders, the priests and religious leaders, and even to the people themselves who were able to demand and obtain Jesus’ execution despite there not being cause.
• John 7:45-49: The arguments of the authority. Previously, before the reaction of the people who were in favor of Jesus, the Pharisees had sent some guards to arrest Him (Jn 7:32). But the guards returned without Jesus. They had been greatly impressed in hearing people speak so well: “No one has ever spoken like this man!” The Pharisees reacted: “Have you also been led astray?” According to the Pharisees who said: “This rabble knows nothing about the Law” and allows itself to be deceived by Jesus. It is as if they said: “No, we the chief priests know things better and we do not allow ourselves to be led astray!” and they say that the people are “damned”! The religious authority of that time treated people with great contempt.
• John 7, 50-52: The defense of Jesus by Nicodemus. Before this stupid argument, the honesty of Nicodemus emerges and he raises his voice to defend Jesus: “But surely our Law does not allow us to pass judgment on anyone without first giving him a hearing and discovering what He is doing?” The reaction of the others is that Nicodemus is mocking them: “Nicodemus are you also from Galilee? Look at the Bible and you will see for yourself that prophets do not arise in Galilee!” They are sure! Holding the book of the past, they defend themselves against the future which arrives and disturbs them.
4) Personal questions
• Today, what are the diverse opinions that people have about Jesus? In your community, are there different opinions which cause confusion? What are they? Name them, describe them.
• There are people who accept only the new which agree with their own ideas and their past. There are others today that accept every new idea no matter how crazy. How do you discern authentic change and not be tossed about by every new idea?
5) Concluding Prayer
Have mercy on me, O God,
in Your faithful love,
in Your great tenderness wipe away my offenses;
wash me clean from my guilt,
purify me from my sin. (Ps 51:1-2)