Why Didn’t They Arrest Jesus that Day?

John 7

Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not arrest him?” The police answered, “Never has anyone spoken like this!” Then the Pharisees replied, “Surely you have not been deceived too, have you?” – John 7:45-47

In John 7, Jesus is again in Jerusalem, celebrating one of the Jewish festival. In verse 32, after he’s been inspiring many of the people – and thus, offending most of the leaders – the Pharisees sent the temple police to arrest him. I love how in today’s verse, the arresting officials came back empty handed. Why?

First, they came back empty handed because it wasn’t yet Jesus’ time. In fact, he says precisely this in verse 6, and all through the Gospels, no human was going to upend God’s timing for betrayal, arrest, crucifixion, death, and resurrection. (There were times, for example, when angry crowds were going to push Jesus off a cliff – Luke 4 – yet when they went to push, Jesus had disappeared! It wasn’t yet his time.) Thus, when the Pharisees sent the temple police to arrest Jesus, it wasn’t going to happen … yet. And that’s the first reason the Jesus wasn’t arrested in John 7 – “6 My time has not yet come.”

But there’s a second reason. The big tough soldiers from the temple went out. They probably watched him for while. They probably kept looking for an opportunity to arrest Jesus without too much of a commotion. Yet, as they waited, they were surely listening in – at least passively – and suddenly something changed within them! “Never has anyone spoken like this!” they would report. And the fear of the Lord (in the good sense of the term) became greater in them than their fear of their earthly masters … and so they came back empty handed.

In our lives, we’re called to many things in the name of the Lord. How many of us don’t do some things sometimes because we’re afraid of what the world will think? We’re afraid for our reputation. We’re uncomfortable. We don’t want to be thought strange. What will it take to increase your fear of the Lord (in a good sense) so that you’re more inspired by God than worried about the world?


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