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Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Would the Messiah Come From Galilee?
- March 16, 2013
On the one hand, the common people were charmed by the way he spoke, and many felt that Jesus indeed was the Messiah. The temple police reported to their masters that there had never been anyone who spoke like him. On the other hand, the Sadduccees and the Pharisees, the priestly caste and the Jewish establishment, hated Jesus for the brilliance of his arguments and the integrity of his life.
They could never confound him, and his vast popularity made him virtually untouchable. They sought to demean him as being from Galilee – for upscale Jerusalem looked down upon the Galileans as boorish and unlettered – and even ridiculed the idea of a messiah coming out of Galilee. They sent the police to arrest Jesus for preaching in the temple courtyards and ‘disturbing the peace’, but the police returned empty-handed.
One of the Pharisees, Nicodemus, who had approached Jesus earlier in a private discussion, takes Jesus’s side: Surely the Law does not allow us to pass judgment on a man without giving him a fair hearing, and discovering what he is about ? he pleads. But it falls on deaf ears.
By debunking their petty rituals, by exposing their hypocrisy, by confuting their arguments and embarrassing them in front of the crowds, by attacking their crooked commercial ventures in the Temple, Jesus had made mortal enemies of the Jewish establishment. For them there was no option – this man had to go. It wasn’t a question of fairness or justice; it was a matter of expediency. His enemies watched and waited for a suitable time to strike.
Jesus had to be got out of the way first; later on, they would find themselves proper reasons for doing so.