Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent, March 28, 2020
(Jeremiah 11:18-20; John 7:40-53)
If we listen for the Jewish trial of Jesus in the reading of the Passion on Good Friday, we will be disappointed. Unlike Matthew and Mark, John does not show the Sanhedrin meeting to review the evidence, listen to witnesses, and render a verdict. But careful observers will note how John runs a trial throughout the first part of the gospel. Jesus is continually being questioned, and people are brought to give testimony about him. Today’s gospel highlights this ongoing inquiry of the Jews about Jesus’ activities.
First, the Jews try to establish Jesus’ identity. Is he the long awaited prophet promised by Moses, the Davidic Messiah who will lead the people to freedom, or a charlatan? They do not achieve unanimity, but nonpartisan guards testify that no one has ever spoken like him. The Pharisees act like prosecuting attorneys in the trial. Hostile to Jesus, they try to discredit Nicodemus and everyone else who speaks in Jesus’ defense.
We readers of John’s gospel may want to involve ourselves in the proceedings. Although we may have gone to church all our lives, many of us wonder about Jesus. Like the Jews, we ask, “Is he really God?” We want to know if following him will bring us through death to eternal happiness. Or is Jesus, however talented, just a man incapable of delivering all he claims? From anyone else, we would dismiss such talk as “pie in the sky.” However, we must admit something different about him. His wisdom, his preaching, his healings, his demonstrated love for others -- all justify a positive verdict. And then there is the testimony of the saints through the ages. Yes, he is Lord and we would betray our deepest intuition not to follow him to the end.