God Soft Hands Jesus really does meet everyone “where they are”!
These Pharisees for example. When He and they go head to head, so often I sit back like the crowds around the arena – blood sport at its best! The verbal sparring jeered and cheered. The shots on target applauded and hissed. The end never in doubt: “Jesus … Jesus … Jesus … !” And yet another crown presented each time He dispatches the enemy! It is all very gladiatorial (and fun!!).
So once again I was in my usual ring-side seat as the next fight kicked off today:
“Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’[a]? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 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’? Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 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.” Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” And in that place many believed in Jesus.” John 10:31-42
Pharisees dispatched again. Common people (that’s me and you) won again! “Jesus … Jesus … Jesus … !” Yay!!
And then He drew me to the “[a]” – the “tiddly bits” that the bible editors add. This one pointing to the old scripture used on this occasion – the final blow – the killing blow! “Jesus … Jesus … Jesus … !” Yay!!
It is Psalm 82 –
“God presides in the great assembly; he renders judgment among the “gods”: “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. “The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. “I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’ But you will die like mere mortals; you will fall like every other ruler.” Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.”
Now call me mutton dressed as lamb, but I always thought the Psalms were some kind of old hymn book. An odd bit of the bible. Maybe for those with a musical ear – or even a poetic ear. But for the likes of me – a bible wasteland (I always nod knowingly without comprehending at all).
And here is Jesus using it as “The Law” ? And even more weird … the enemy concur – because no one picks holes in Jesus’ choice of slice and dice here. Way to go Jesus! The “hymn book” is “The Law” as well! Never knew that one – you are The Man!
“Jesus … Jesus … Jesus … !” Yay!!
And He just looked at me with that look He has. That silent look. The one that says “I am a tad disappointed, Paul. I will always love you – always. So allow me a teensy weensy surprise at your bravado.”
Humble Pie does not describe it. 😦
But, bless Him, GSHJ does not do “humble pie” – He does Love. Love without condition. So we chatted. And He gently massaged my “gladiator fanzine” out of these verses for me today. And a few things tumbled around as we unpacked all that stuff. Like …
Those Pharisees were never the enemy. Never have been. All that debate and slice and dice, all that sparring, all that who is right and who is wrong … That wasn’t “them against us” – that was Jesus simply meeting them where they were at that moment. That was Jesus drawing to them as He draws to everyone – as He draws everyone to Him. He met them in their world. And – just as He went to the common people (you and me obviously!) – and to the Gentiles (you and me obviously) – He also went to the Pharisees (all together now : “boo hiss”!).
So why don’t we?
And I had no answer to that – none that is “Love is always the answer … “
And the other thing I saw was that Jesus went to the very heart of the Pharisees’ comfort zones to make them feel safe. To “make them feel safe …” ? Have I gone mad? I hope not. Because He showed me something I have never seen before.
All of these really cool “old scriptures” – the ones that Jesus trawls and plops in front of the Pharisees … that is not attacking them, undermining them … it is not the killing blow. That is making them feel safe. That is working in the centre of their comfort zones. That is simply meeting them where they are.
He showed me that He never once attacked the Pharisees or marginalised them (as I have done and do – as I see so many do). Jesus used their comfort zones to make them safe – so He could lovingly challenge their thinking. Just as He did with the woman at the well, the tax collectors and the “sinners” partying, the fishing boats and nets, the mountains and crowds, the bread and fishes, the feet-washing, the healing and the kindness … Just as He meets “us” where we are in our own comfort zones (and then challenges us gently) – so too with the Pharisees.
And for each us – one by one and individually – how we respond and react is down to us – even the Pharisees – there is no difference – it is the same for all of us!
Jesus does not discriminate. Ever!
Wow!! I have never seen that before. And that has changed me profoundly in this very moment: Jesus does not discriminate ever – at all – with anyone – ever!
Because in this moment I am left with this “gentle challenge” … What is my reality? How do I choose to live that in my day – every day – with everyone – always?
My reality? I DO discriminate – I DO select in and select out – I DO choose you over you – I DO prioritise you ahead of you – and I do all of that whilst endorsing myself as a good loving Christian – and I make sure that I use the bible to do all that preening!
H…m…m..m.mmmmm … (is it a bit quiet at your end too?)