Deliberation is a loaded term when it is about a joint decision to make among a group of strangers. When people say, the “jury is out on that” there is a context of uncertainty that could make the hearer nervous depending on what their bias is. If someone is biased for what a finding should be and is in power then all bets may be off since they could be out for blood. In the case of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day they very much were resolute as we will see below.
But many of the crowd began to believe in him, and said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man has done?” The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring about him to this effect, and the chief priests and the Pharisees sent guards to arrest him. So Jesus said, “I will be with you only a little while longer, and then I will go to the one who sent me. You will look for me but not find [me], and where I am you cannot come.” So the Jews said to one another, “Where is he going that we will not find him? Surely he is not going to the dispersion among the Greeks to teach the Greeks, is he? What is the meaning of his saying, ‘You will look for me and not find [me], and where I am you cannot come’?” (John 6: 31-36).
began to believe in him- This was a scary development for those in power that were opposed to Jesus which can be lost in out modern European based mindsets. If I believe in a political party I can keep the consequence internally. But in the language and mindsets of Greeks to believe in is a pregnant term. Belief with conversion in the New Testament has a context of obedience. The in that is referred has a context of changing the realm of ones identity. If I am a baker that is reinforced if I am in a bakery. If I am a Christian then at least in some point you will find me in a gathering of Christian community doing Christian things. This was considering intentional engagement, so with the leaders not liking Jesus they were compelled in fervor to send their own message in light of their authority.
and then I will go to the one who sent me- Jesus is telegraphing that he will not be bound to their assumptions. Jesus points to God the Father as the one who sent him and points to a plan in place beyond an earthly loop. Just these words tell those who assume privilege for themselves as the spiritually elite that by hearing a plan they are not in, they are really the outsiders instead of Jesus.
and where I am you cannot come- This is an important piece where the heavenly realm is implied. To their credit, the Pharisees were a religious group that believed in an afterlife and resurrection unlike the Sadducees. However, Jesus sets a boundary that the communion between the Father and the Son is something that they are not a part of as noted in the sending and returning. If they were to go there then something outside of their agenda would be in place. To be told this must have been offensive. As seen earlier in this chapter, the “knew” where he was from.
Surely he is not going to the dispersion among the Greeks to teach the Greeks, is he? – They are at a point that they do not even understand how Jesus speaks of spiritual things. Much can be understood about someone based on what they fear. In the Pharisees case the felt they were guardians of a deposit of faith that was not only earthly but on DNA. Only pure teaching for pure people on their pure discretion.
What is the meaning of his saying- Though there was a quote after this statement of Jesus it is worth focusing on how deaf humanity can be in our search for how to pigeonhole God where we can contain him. God does not always give us exact answers but there is room for getting the themes of what God’s will is.
Meanwhile the jury of public opinion still deliberates on who Jesus is while the Pharisees does only on how to catch Jesus. Both groups received an appetizer of words from Jesus this day with different intents: one of wonder and one of defensiveness. By the late 50’s AD we see that the Church is the “pillar and bulwark of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). The next temptation for then and now is to vote on Jesus being valid. But the truth that is objective and divine must be accepted for its danger of changing us from our conveniences and calling us to believe into Someone bigger than ourselves.