Everybody prefers to work with people who wish them well. You prefer encouragement, affirmation and cooperation do you not? You don’t need me to tell you that the world also contains people who do not wish you well. They do not want to cooperate with you, in fact they want to oppose you. Your opposition may reveal itself in the guise of a bully or abusive individual who seeks to force you to his or her will. It might be the use of awkwardness and planned sabotages of your strategy using gossip or petty defiances. Whether it is open aggression or passive aggression the result for you is the same – you’re in a struggle. May I invite you to consider the possibility that such struggles can promote wisdom, maturity and sophistication? Although not pleasant or desirable this tussle or wrestling match could have a transformative impact on your soul. It is not by accident that the Bible speaks of iron sharpening iron. I would like to re-introduce you to a man named Annas. When Jesus of Nazareth was very young this man became high priest in Judea, a post he held for ten years. Although he was fired by the Romans he did not go away. Somehow he managed to get his five sons and his son-in-law appointed high priest. Annas and his family held power in Jerusalem for nearly seventy years. If you’re careful you can see that Annas was one of the chief enemies of Jesus. When Lazarus was raised it was Annas that plotted to have him killed. The market stalls in the Temple were nicknamed the “booths of Annas”. It was to Annas that Jesus was first taken after his arrest. Annas sent him straight to his son-in-law, Caiaphas, for further questioning. For almost the whole of Jesus’ life on earth Annas had been orchestrating opposition somehow. Time after time religious quizmasters peppered Jesus with questions in an attempt to trick him. They were regularly sent by, and reporting back to, Annas. Honestly, I’m in no mood to thank Annas for anything – but I think I would be wrong. It was Annas’ questions that elicited sublime wisdom from Jesus that I can use when I’m peppered with questions. It was Annas’ strategy of opposition which reminded Jesus day after day of the necessity of his mission to destroy the darkness. Without Annas’ booths you would not have seen the crystal clear anger of Jesus as He cleansed the Temple. It was the debates with Annas’ messenger boys that created a legacy of wisdom upon which you and I can feed. Finally it was Annas’ fierce determination that led to the execution of Jesus. It’s a strange thought to consider that anyone could shape Jesus and, of course, no one really can. But Annas’ opposition created an agenda for debates and a context that Jesus allowed to continue so that the message and goals of the Kingdom could be delivered. Does this not resonate with you? When you know you are being opposed don’t you sharpen up your arguments? If you know you will be confronted don’t you strengthen your heart? It is these opponents and critics which wake you up to the need to be at your best, most prepared, wisest and energized. What Annas did not realize, however, that for all his plotting, scheming, lies and deceit he was not the puppet master but the puppet. He knew he was the puppet of Rome and that irritated him immensely but what he did not know was that the more he tried to destroy the more Jesus created. The more he tried to execute, Jesus would turn into sacrifice. Jesus harnessed Annas’ energy and used it to lay the path to the cross. Annas must have thought he had won. But he did not reckon with resurrections. Please take this with you to work this week. You will meet people, like Annas, motivated by greed, power and darkness who want to oppose you. It is possible that their approach to you can develop your wisdom, strengthen your heart and deepen your resolve. They may wound you and maybe cause you to die a little inside but no matter how often you feel crucified you will always rise. The same Spirit that raised Jesus will raise you. No one welcomes enemies, opposition, opponents or critics but in a mystical way they too can be transformers of our souls. Bless those who curse you – can you see it? Bible section John 18:19-23 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” 22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded. 23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”
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