There’s a lot of confusion in this passage. Some thought Jesus was a prophet. Others thought he was the Messiah. Others doubted that he was anything special because of his place of birth. And still others thought he should be arrested because his words scandalized so many of the religious leaders.
But there was one group of people who wasn’t confused: the Temple soldiers. They decided not to arrest Jesus. Their reason for disobeying direct orders? “Never before has anyone spoken like this man” (John 7:46). Something about Jesus and his way of speaking made them pause and question themselves. Jesus’ words had found a way into their hearts, and those words took them by surprise and challenged them to think differently about the Lord whose Temple they were sworn to protect.
We all get confused sometimes. We have questions about our faith. We may struggle with a particular Church teaching. Sometimes we read Scripture without truly understanding what is being said or why. Sometimes it’s the events of our own lives—difficult periods of waiting, grieving, or watching people suffer—that leave our heads spinning. So what should we do? We can learn something from these Temple guards: listen to Jesus in his word.
There is power in the word of God. And we can experience this power when we are open and listening to it. Anyone can hear a Bible passage being proclaimed, but those who are thirsting for God will hear it address them personally. So will those who are eager for truth, those who know how empty their hearts are without the Lord, and those who are tired of living only for themselves. In each of these situations—and countless others—the Holy Spirit finds open hearts, and he comes to them. He gives glimmers of God’s love and invites them to keep pursuing him.
We don’t know what ultimately happened with these guards, but we do know one thing: their lives were upended that day, and they couldn’t go back to living as before. And neither can we.
“Come, Holy Spirit, and speak God’s word to my heart.”
May the working of your mercy, O Lord, we pray, direct our hearts aright, for without your grace we cannot find favor in your sight.