John 7:45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”
46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied.
47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.”
50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”
52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”
The temple guards were dispatched to arrest Jesus back in verse 32. They are clearly not Roman soldiers but more like some religious zealots employed by the Priests to keep order in the temple. They return to the Chief Priests and Pharisees empty-handed. They have made up their own minds about Jesus and decided to leave him teaching.
The Pharisees denounce the Priest’s guards as ‘deceived’. None of their highly educated and morally superior members have believed Jesus. But, of course, Nicodemus’ undercover meeting with Jesus is hidden from them (it is not hidden from the reader– John 3). Nicodemus suggests to his fellow Pharisees that they should at least listen Jesus before they pre-judge him (v51). In reply, the Pharisees revile Nicodemus with a nasty insult, “Are you also a Galilean?”
Galilee was a place of no religious significance. The Pharisees say the Scriptures foretold no prophet would ever come from ‘up north’, by the sea, where the lineage of the Jews was compromised and mixed with the Assyrians and the culture tainted by the Greeks and the Romans. But if Nicodemus and the guards did look into their Scriptures as the Pharisees dared them, they would have read this in Isaiah 9:1-7
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honour Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan— The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder… For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
Lord Jesus, thank you that you came from the Father in heaven, were born in the town of King David, returned out of Egypt, to be raised in Galilee of the nations. Thank you that you were born as our ruler, given as a son, and that the government of the universe now rests upon your shoulders. Amen.
Later on, Nicodemus will publicly go to Pilate to petition for Jesus’ body– John 19:38-40.