Did Jesus ever argue? Honestly I chuckled reading an exchange between Jesus and the “Pharisees”, “Jews who had believed him”, and other onlookers in John chapter 8. If you know me well, you know I like to argue and exchange views. Ever since elementary school, teachers told me to stop arguing with them (imagine how my mom felt). In college I lived with a friend who challenged me all the time on what I believed…I saw my shallowness, weakness, and ignorance, but was challenged to change that…we would go on for hours, you could ask our other roommates! I am so much better for it.
So this exchange where Jesus is indeed arguing with those who had gathered around Him got my attention when it got pretty testy. He had just saved an adulterous woman from stoning by telling those with stones in their hands “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Nobody did, then after telling her to “Go. From now on sin no more”, Jesus stood up and began sharing truth. It got testy.
At one point Jesus said to the ones arguing with him “You are of your father the devil, and you want the desires of your father” (v.44). Well how do you think that went? They responded by calling him the Devil, “Aren’t we right in saying you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” (v.48). After Jesus said he wasn’t demon possessed and told them “whoever obeys my word will never see death”, they responded by basically saying, Yep you are the devil! “Now we know that you are demon possessed!” (v.52)
Why did I take note of this, and chuckle? I guess it was refreshing to read. A little surprising to read. In our day when, in and out of Christian circles, we avoid disagreement at all costs and really frown on argument, reading Jesus going toe to toe caught my attention. I was encouraged.
A couple of things I took from reading this exchange, this heated argument.
-Jesus didn’t argue just to make the people he was talking with upset, or to be right. He was teaching them The Truth. It was hard because their culture had hardened them and they didn’t recognize God when he stood before them. So for the sake of sharing the Truth, Jesus went at it. He loved them so.
-Jesus did not get angry or let it go too far. It all reached a crescendo when Jesus made his main point of Truth in saying “Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am!” (v.58) He told them very directly, that He was God. If he was angry with them at that point he could have struck them dead, being God. He didn’t do that. They did get angry however, but Jesus walked away. “At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.” (v.59)
So today as I read about Jesus “the heated debater” I am encouraged to not sit back and be content. I am encouraged to speak Truth, and share it even when it is not popular, even when people might pick up stones to throw at me. As Christians, we need to engage. We need to avoid surrounding ourselves only with people who agree with us. We need to be able to sit in the face of dozens who don’t agree, not get angry, not let it go too far, but speak the Truth. It is needed.
Our day is dominated by political correctness, moral relativism, a knee jerk search for a moral equivalency any time someone takes a stand. I know those philosophies claim to be all about Love….and since Jesus is Love we should go there with reckless abandon right? But that is not the Love Jesus lived, that is not what you find when you read about his life. Nor did he declare himself only love, he in fact declared himself True. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the father but through me.” Jn 14:6 As a follower of Jesus filled with Love, I want to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.
Even as I chuckled at the pettiness of the “you are the devil, no you are the devil” exchange, I was challenged. Challenged to be more like Jesus. If you have time today, open one of the four Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke or John and read about the Truth that Jesus taught. It is life changing.
Lord Jesus, I ask you give me conviction to stand for the Truth that you are. I ask you to help me to not be angry or arrogant or hateful, but instead filled with True Love in whatever moment I find myself. I want to worship you as I go through life, at every moment. I know you are with me still, always until the end of time….thank you Jesus! My father who is in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give me this day my daily bread and forgive me of my trespasses, as I forgive those who have trespassed against me. Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil, for thine is the power and the kingdom and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.