Misplaced certainty leads to the most regrettable errors.
Jesus’ teaching moved the hearts and minds of the masses. The had heard nothing like this, so compelling it stirred the deepest longings, so clear it seemed a window into truth, so accompanied by power that it must have come from God himself.
Yet they knew their facts, and those facts left no room for Jesus.
When they heard these words, some of the people said, ‘This really is the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.’ But some said, ‘Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?’ So there was a division among the people over him. (John 7:40–43 ESV)
The ironies run deep, for the author of John’s Gospel fully affirmed the facts put forth by Jesus’ pained doubters. Yet they did not command all the facts, didn’t have the full picture, lacked a context that would make sense both of what they knew to be true and what they now saw in the Galilean teacher who spoke like no other.
Their certainty touched the truth. Yet it was incomplete.
So, for John, they missed the most important truth. The tragedy of this is palpable and—in its way—terrible.
The argument took on its own momentum, shaped its own tragic outcome.
Nicodemus, an odd protagonist in several brief cameos, stood up for Jesus. So did he earn the opprobrium of the certain.
They replied (to Nicodemus), ‘Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.’ They went each to his own house. (John 7:52–53 ESV)
Truth is captured best—and sometimes only—by those who know some truth, yet find the means to pause in search of greater truth.
Sometimes everything depends on this.