Class Prejudice and Christianity
John 7:48
Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?

The learned and the rich sometimes hate and despise a form of religion because it is favoured by the poor and the ignorant; and these in turn dislike and reject a different form of religion because it is adopted by their social superiors. Something similar to this antipathy seems to have been manifested among the Jews in the time of our Lord; only it was not a form of religion that was in question, it was religion itself, or rather that Being who is in his own person the sum and substance of true religion. There were undoubtedly serious reasons which led rulers and Pharisees to reject Jesus of Nazareth. That mentioned in this passage was not the most serious; but it was a real and influential reason. Jesus was reputed a Galilaean; he was heard gladly by the common people, who were ignorant of the Law. This was reason enough for his rejection by those who respected only the educated and ruling classes of society.

I. THE ASSERTION IMPLIED, viz. that Jesus was not received with faith by the rulers and the Pharisees. This was not universally true. The attitude of Nicodemus on this occasion shows that, even in the council of the nation, faith in Jesus as the Christ was not unknown. Joseph of Arimathaea also was a disciple of Jesus, though secretly. Yet, broadly speaking, it was undoubtedly the case that the upper classes of his countrymen rejected Jesus, and that the more influential among them hated and dreaded him. This may be accounted for, partly upon the general principle that the wealthy and educated tend to conservatism; but mainly by considering how the teaching of Jesus was undermining the authority of the Jewish leaders, and was even threatening to cut off some of the sources of their ill-gotten riches.

II. THE ARGUMENT SUGGESTED. The language suggested some such argument as this - What the learned and leading classes reject is likely to be incredible and unworthy of acceptance; now, these classes altogether repudiate Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, or even as a prophet; there is, therefore, no room for accepting or even considering his claims. The fact of the hostility of the rulers was by this time matter of notoriety, and this had, no doubt, influence with many who were accustomed to look to their social and ecclesiastical superiors for leading. The same principle which was so influential in our Lord's day has in subsequent periods of human history induced many to reject the Saviour. Some have attached importance to the infidelity of princes, others to that of leaders in fashion, others to that of great philosophers; and have permitted their blind reverence for authority to turn their attention away from the weighty credentials of Christianity, and from the claims of Christ himself.

III. THE FALLACY LATENT. This is to be found in the assumption that learned and powerful men are likely to be right upon questions of religion. The events which followed in the history of the Son of man were enough to dispel this illusion. Not for the first or the last time, the judges in whom public confidence is chiefly placed were wrong, and the poor, illiterate, and despised were right. Against a fallacy which has led so many astray, it is well that those who desire above all things to attain the truth should be upon their guard. And the true protection is this: the habit, not of asking - What is the judgment of men? but of asking - What are the indications of the will of God? If the Lord Jesus Christ be in himself adapted to our needs as being the Prophet, the Priest, and the King of humanity, it is of little consequence, so far as practical guidance is concerned, to consider who rejects his claims. Let every one who is a seeker of truth turn his heart and mind to Christ. He is his own best witness, his own most convincing evidence. - T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?

WEB: Have any of the rulers believed in him, or of the Pharisees?

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