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9 Nicodemus

John 7:40-52

St Cyril of Alexandria’s commentary draws attention to the fact that those who heard Jesus were so astonished at the authority with which he spoke that they thought him the one prophesied who would speak the word of God, or even the Christ. They believed the latter would be of the seed of David and would be revealed in Bethlehem of Judea. Knowing that Jesus was from Nazareth, some Jews are misled, and, lacking faith and full knowledge, fall away.

The Pharisees, fearing that the Jews would follow Jesus, sent men to arrest him, but they were so touched by his words that they did not do so, telling the Pharisees that no one ever spoke like Jesus.

St Augustine points out how the officers bear witness to the power of Jesus. They knew he was not like other men. But the Pharisees, who knew every letter of the Law, failed to recognise its spirit, and they were blinded by their pride.

Chrysostom adds that the Pharisees neither knew the fullness of the Law, neither did they do what it commanded, for it said that no man should be killed without being granted a hearing. But it is clear, from the testimony of Nicodemus, that not all the Pharisees were blind. He knew, from his own experience, the power of the words of Jesus, but he is silenced, as Peter will be later, by fear of the wrath of the Pharisees. Like us, he is weak and fearful. Authority on earth is a powerful thing and can drive us into silence. Can we summon the courage to confess Him in such circumstances?