Have you ever been bullied at work? You’re not alone. Some statistics suggest about 70% of us experience workplace bullying in one form sometime in our careers. Unfortunately, most bullies are men and most victims are women but it affects us all across the board.
At its root bullying is an abuse of power. The power itself might be legitimate (if for example a boss has power) or it may be incidental (a bigger, louder, more aggressive person).
Either way bullying involves an abuse of power and the statistics are not good when it comes to getting help. Many solve the problem by quitting and starting again (which, although feels like a failure, is a perfectly legitimate way of solving a problem – walking away).
Bullying can feel like a slap in the face and can be an attempt to force you out of shape, distorting your character, souring your soul.
There is a moment in the trials of the Son of Man where he was literally slapped in the face by his accusers. A shadowy figure named Annas was a specialist in abusing power at the time. He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest, yet he was also called high priest. In fact, there was a nepotistic dynasty monopolizing power in that era.
Firing questions at Jesus, he was already bound, his tone was very aggressive. The Son of Man challenged his questioners to get their information from the public. He had been open about his views and message, “Why question me? Ask those who heard me – surely they know what I said“.
Of course, bullies don’t react well when someone stands up to them and Jesus’ words were answered with a slap in the face. It was a literal slap but it represented the typical redundant last resort of the bully – lashing out.
It is Jesus’ response that gives your great insight in to how to keep your shape in the face of a bully’s abusive power.
Since his words were deemed impertinent to the high priest, he was slapped, but rather than apologize or back down, the Son of Man stands his ground. He presents a very clever alternative. “If I have said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong“. It’s an assertive legal challenge. Jesus is saying go ahead make your case if you can. Of course, a bully cannot. He is abusing power and he is not capable of making a good legal case.
Jesus went on to say, “but if I spoke the truth why did you strike me?”
Perhaps you’ve been there. Maybe you have experienced the frenzied, pressurizing tactics of the bully. When you resist, you get slapped down.
But you are not being bullied because you are wrong, you are being bullied because of an abuse of power. Even if you’ve made a mistake bullying is never, ever right.
The Son of Man shows you how to stand your ground, keep your shape and challenge the abuser. If I am wrong, make your case. If I am right, why strike me?
Either way, enough bullying, abuse of power is over.
Don’t forget the most powerful individual on the planet was standing there, with one thought he could annihilate the opposition. But that would be an abuse of power and he would not do it. That would involve losing his shape as the Son of Man. That was not going to happen.
19 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?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
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