Captivity Led Captive
John 7:45, 46
Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said to them, Why have you not brought him?…

Notice -

I. THE COUNCIL'S QUESTION. "Why did ye not bring him?" There are several feelings and sentiments implied in this question.

1. Great hatred. They hated Jesus to such an extent that they wished to put him to death. For this purpose they sent the officers to take him, and the hatred which inspired this contemplated deed was implied in this question. Human hatred cannot go further than this. Murder is the last cowardly argument of bigotry and weakness. They had no reason. Hatred does not require a valid reason; it will coin one for itself. It was seething in the question, "Why," etc.?

2. Great surprise. They would not be more surprised to see Jesus there without the officers than to see the officers without Jesus. They were not some men sent at random, but picked officers, furnished with authority and strictly commanded to bring him. But they are returned without their Victim - and why? They are lost in surprise.

3. Great disappointment. They had calculated upon a feast more enjoyable to them than that of Tabernacles. They had stayed away from the latter in anticipation of a greater luxury - to have the Victim of their hatred in their power. But, behold the officers without him! It is thought that the best opportunity is lost. By the next time the attempt is made to take him, he will perhaps have so grown in power and popularity that it will be in vain. A good opportunity is lost; the feast of hatred and malice is missed. "Why," etc.? The question trembles with disappointment. Hatred is terribly disappointed when it cannot obtain what it wishes.

4. A great insult. In this question we can hear the quivering notes of insulted pride. "Why," etc.? There is a suspicion that their authority was disobeyed and their command set at naught, and that by their inferiors, their dependents, their menials; and they demand the reason.

5. A severe reproof. We can well imagine their voices thunders, their words lightnings, and their visage as the angry sky just before a storm, as they asked the question, "Why did ye," etc.? If their power and authority were equal to their hatred and pride, these officials would soon have to feel the terrible weight of their revenge.

II. THE OFFICERS' REPLY. "Never man," etc.

1. This is a remarkable testimony of unbiased witnesses to Jesus. If they had any prejudice at all, it would certainly be against him. It is almost the general rule that servants are inspired with the spirit and sentiments of their masters. If so, we can well imagine how these officers felt and spoke as they went forth to take Jesus. But they returned in a different spirit and with a different tale. "Never man," etc. No one can suspect them of undue partiality to Jesus, but rather the contrary; therefore their testimony is remarkable and of special value.

2. It is the testimony of personal experience, as well as that of popular opinion. It is not the result of hearsay or a second hand report, but they had heard Jesus with their own ears, and seen with their own eyes the wonderful effect he had on the multitudes, and this was the testimony of their own personal experience and observation: "Never man," etc.

3. It is a great but a natural testimony to Jesus as a Teacher. "Never man," etc. There had been in the world great men among Jews and Gentiles - mighty orators, eloquent prophets, and sage philosophers; but "never man," etc., not even Moses. "Never man," etc. As much as to say that he must be more than a mere man; if not, the fact is still more extraordinary that a poor, uneducated Galilaean should eclipse all his illustrious predecessors in wisdom and Divine eloquence as a Teacher. Grant him to be the Messiah - the Son of God incarnate - then this testimony, though great, is most natural. What else could be expected?

4. The substantial truth of this testimony is amply corroborated by the teaching of Jesus. Although we have not the fascinating voice, the effective utterance, and the charming presence, yet sufficient is recorded to prove the unquestionable truth of the testimony. The testimony of these officers must have been inspired, for they could not fully comprehend it; still its truth has been confirmed by the most intelligent, learned, and competent judges of all succeeding ages. "Never man," etc.

(1) Never man spake such Divine and sublime truths - truths concerning man and God, concerning this world and the other. Never man spake as he to reason, to conscience, to the will and heart.

(2) Never man spake with such authority, ease, naturalness, transparency, and conviction.

(3) Never man spake with such Divine effect. To various objects - to nature, to diseases, to demons, to death, to man in all conditions, to the guilty, to the penitent, to the weary and heavy laden, etc.

5. The genuineness of their testimony is attested by the fact that they returned without him. His influence over them is patent to all. The strictness of the command and the fear of the consequences of failure to carry it out would naturally cause them to strain every nerve to take him. But they failed, and they could assign no other reason for their failure than the superhuman influence of his speech and doctrine. It is recorded as a proof of the eloquence of Marcus Antonius the orator, that when Marius sent soldiers to kill him, he pleaded with such eloquence for his life that they could not touch him, and they left him in tears. But here is an instance of a more captivating eloquence. Christ did not appeal to the pity of his captors, neither did he plead for his life; but he appealed to the conscience and heart, and pleaded for the life of the condemned world with such power as to disarm them. They returned without him, amazed and spellbound with his magic eloquence, and could give no account of their failure but in the simple but touching story, "Never man," etc.


1. We have here a singular instance of the wrath of man being made to praise the Lord. Instead of these officers bringing Jesus before the council to be tried and condemned, he sends them back to the council to bear witness to his excellence and preach his glory, even to his bitterest enemies.

2. Servants and dependents are often more open to conviction than their masters and superiors. Those who have had but few, if any, privileges are often touched by Divine truths before those who have been highly favoured. Thus the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.

3. Jesus has often taken those who would take him. These officers went to take him, but he took them. Saul of Tarsus is another instance, and the history of conversions through the ages is full of instances of Christ leading captivity captive.

4. The testimony of these officers has been the testimony of all who have given Jesus a fair hearing. Scholarship and common sense have joined the believer's experience in saying, "Never man,"etc.

5. It is not enough to admire Christ as a Teacher, but we must believe and obey him. - B.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him?

WEB: The officers therefore came to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they said to them, "Why didn't you bring him?"

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