Have you ever said something which has made someone so angry that they want to attack you physically? Have you ever provoked a whole group to fury with intention to violence?
If you are then one against many you cannot help but be a little afraid, can you? Imagine working in an organization where something you say makes everyone mad at you. How would you cope?
Scan back to the 25th of December around about AD 32 and you will find a moment when the Son of Man was walking, in wintry weather, under some covered corridors in the Jewish Temple. He managed to say something that sent a bunch of them off – not in a huff – but with the sole purpose of finding stones to throw at him until he was dead.
How did that happen? You can read the story for yourself in John’s 10th chapter, the 2nd half.
The words that infuriated his audience were, “I and the Father are One” and “I am God’s Son”. Their anger was because they understood him (rightly) to be making himself equal with God.
Jesus uses several clear approaches to challenge their right to stone him for blasphemy. We won’t analyze them completely in full detail here, but it’s worth summarizing that he showed them from their own writings that his language was possible; he showed them that their difficulties in believing in him were much more related to their state of mind than his; and his strongest point was that his miracles spoke for themselves.
All of these strategies give you a toolkit when you are trapped in whatever difficult question you may face at work. Try to argue from what your opponents already believe, try to diagnose their state of mind and point to your (hopefully) consistent actions which back up your words.
But I want to invite you to see what he didn’t do. What he didn’t do speaks as loudly as what he did at this point. But it also reveals something more of his own heart.
First, he did not back down. He assertively argued his point. Assertiveness steers a healthy path between aggression and passivity. He did not stay silent but challenged their identities and their world view.
Second, and the most revealing, he did not obliterate them. Take your mind back to my imaginary scenario where you have managed to provoke a huge number of people to the potentially violent response. I suppose your fear levels will be reduced if you held in your hand some sort of powerful weapon. The higher the threat to you perhaps the higher the temptation to use it.
Now go back to the Son of Man. He is being insulted, he is being misunderstood and maligned. He has done nothing but loving, miraculous work among these people. Now they are threatening his life.
Yet within himself he has the power to obliterate them just with a thought. He is about to show his power over life and death when he arrives at Bethany, but they don’t know that yet. But he holds back. He restrains himself. In spite of a mob with stones in their hands, he keeps being loving and eventually merely walks away.
Could you do that? Could I? If I had power, could I refrain from using it?
You see his actions always spoke of his being God’s Son, even in the face of a mob. He is a shepherd not a shooter, he loves not destroys and he is our model and inspiration. His offer is to work from the inside out empowering you both to be and to not be this week at work whatever you face.
22 Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” 31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” 33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works,that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. 40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.
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