Identity of Amazing Love
Clarity in Confusion
What took them by surprise was the public nature of his proclamation, even in the face of such a threat.
A possible explanation suggests itself: perhaps (the Gk. interrogative participle mēpote indicates a tentative question: cf. M. 1. 192–193) the authorities themselves have weighed the evidence, perhaps even know of fresh evidence, concluding, at least in private, that Jesus really is the Christ, the Messiah (cf. notes on 1:41). In John’s Gospel, this is the first time such a possibility has been articulated in Jerusalem.
Converted and Confounded
When the Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about Jesus, they became alarmed. They did not even want people to speak of Jesus (v. 13); yet here some were quietly suggesting that He might be the Messiah. The Pharisees were so distressed by the popularity of Jesus that they joined forces with their archrivals the Sadducees. Though the two groups historically were at opposite ends of the theological spectrum, the mutual hatred they felt for Jesus drove them together (cf. v. 45; 11:47, 57; 18:3; Matt. 21:45–46; 27:62).
Completed Work Foretold
Good writer that he is, the Evangelist, knowing how to build up suspense, refuses to tell us the outcome of the guards’ mission right away (cf. vv. 45ff.). Instead he tells us what Jesus is saying and doing at the same moment the guards are seeking an appropriate time to arrest him, a time that will cause minimum commotion in a crowded city bursting with messianic expectations. Hearing of the official warrant (the Gk. of v. 33 opens with a ‘therefore’), Jesus speaks of his imminent departure in words that are clear to any reader (especially after the entire book has been read at least once).
Once again the ‘Johannine irony’ is very thickly laid on. Not only will serious readers of this Gospel remember that within six months the question of visiting proselytes will signal for Jesus the onset of the last ‘hour’ (12:20ff.), but that after the cross, resurrection and ascension the truth of the gospel Jesus proclaimed would in fact be spread in Jewish and Gentile circles throughout the Roman Empire and beyond.