Many who had been listening to these words began to say, “This is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some wondered, “Would the Christ come from Galilee? Doesn’t Scripture say that the Christ is a descendant of David and from Bethlehem, the city of David?” The crowd was divided over him. Some wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
The officers of the temple went back to the chief priests, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him?” The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man.” The Pharisees then said, “So you, too, have been led astray! Have any of the rulers or any of the Pharisees believed in him? Only these cursed people, who have no knowledge of the Law!”
Yet one of them, Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier, spoke out, “Does our law condemn people without first hearing them and knowing the facts?” They replied, “Do you, too, come from Galilee? Look it up and see for yourself that no prophet is to come from Galilee.”
And they all went home.
If the debate on Jesus’ identity were to happen in the context of our postmodern world, it would be totally understandable because today, identity is no longer a given, but an open question. Yet, facts about a person’s background and origins are not enough bases in knowing a person. It takes an investment of time and openness to get to know the other, and yet we know the mystery of the other cannot be totally known. In today’s gospel, it is obvious that the people did not know the real identity of Jesus. If they knew who Jesus really was, they would not have debated on his true identity. Without hearing out Jesus, the chief priests and the Pharisees already had a bias against him, forming a judgment of him. This proves that anyone with “an ax to grind” would not be interested in the truth but only in achieving one’s intended goals. The question of Nicodemus, “Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” is also meant for us. How often do we tend to allow our prejudices to form false judgments about others, without truly knowing them?
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