Last week’s blog showed a problem with the above title. Today continues the solution. We cannot, and must not, assume to know anyone’s true standing with God. But we can learn from Christ’s teaching examples in various situations.
THE LAST SUPPER, WITH CULTURAL CONTEXT AND EDUCATED GUESSWORK
At the Last Supper, Jesus must have been the host rather than the owner of the house. Oriental hospitality being what it was, certainly that person would have offered to wash the feet. But no one offered…must mean that it was just Jesus and the 12, a private party.Jesus The Teacher
In other settings, we’ve speculated about others seated at the table and their position. Cues within the Biblical texts filtered through extra-Biblical sources of the time suggest that Judas was to the left of Jesus (in the seat of honor), and John was in the right-hand seat…Peter was in the lowest seat in the house.
The strongest evidence of…Peter’s being at the end of the line occurs when it is time to wash the feet. Everybody knew what time it was, but no one offered…. Jesus took the towel and the basin, and…Peter is singled out… “And when he got to Peter.”
Also, Peter “motioned” to John to ask Jesus, “who is it?” that will betray Jesus. Peter and John were close in familiarity, but Peter was farthest from where Jesus was sitting. And hierarchy was critical while eating.
THE POWER OF EXAMPLES
We all remember times when God was “asking too much” from us. Due to circumstances, our breaking point was surpassed where we’d still be willing to obey. Peter did what Jesus asked, i.e. when Jesus said to sit at the lowest place at feasts. Peter knew the host might ask you to move up, but Jesus didn’t do that for Peter. Instead, Jesus waited for someone to volunteer to wash their feet. The most natural expectancy was that the person in the lowest seat should wash feet. But after all the arguing over who should be the greatest, this was most biting. So, Jesus taught by example.
Then when Peter objected, Jesus gave the next lesson. There’s a difference between being all dirty (like Judas) and being only with dirty feet (like Peter). But Jesus still didn’t humiliate Judas in front of the others. Jesus didn’t even confront Judas in private. Christ knew Judas was hardening his own heart and would deny the truth. So, Jesus just alluded to Judas’s actions, showing Judas that Christ was aware, partly for Judas’s sake. To shine that last ray of dying light, love, and hope of forgiveness into this hardening, darkened soul. In fact, Christ lastly encouraged Judas to hurry up. Jesus taught by the most gracious example possible his acceptance of his destiny.
THE POWER OF SILENCE
Have you ever wondered why Jesus was silent with Herod Antipas, but not with Pilate? Jesus
was first taken to Pilate. Pilate listened until the word “Galilee” was mentioned…. Pilate…referred Jesus to Herod Antipas…Jesus did not cooperate…was sent back to Pontius Pilate….Jesus The Teacher
Jesus used silence as…a teaching method…. Jesus knows that Antipas is not sleeping well since he had John killed. Now, he is worried that the spirit of John is in Jesus, and he wants to “see” Jesus. Jesus…does not give Antipas the privilege…of hearing one single word.
In contrast, Pilate has not yet encountered either John the Baptist or Jesus. Pilate would’ve only heard the Jewish leaders’ opinions on what Jesus was, and what Jesus was doing. Pilate was much more in the dark. Antipas already saw the light and hardened his heart.
THE POWER OF EXTREME, CONTROLLED ANGER DISPLAYED AT MOST STRATEGIC TIMES
Valuing “peace” too much imprisons us. It takes much more discipline and wisdom to balance the need, and timing, for speaking up. It takes even more to do it in a controlled, strategic fashion. Analyzing Christ’s perfect example is most illuminating.
Some of us have a real problem with the money-changing story…here we are talking about people who should have known better…Jesus The Teacher
Much more than that, they were the institution of God’s anointed for offering sacrifices and worship. They were entrusted with God-sanctioned authority, to represent him in his holiness for his people. Similar to when Catholic priests get accused of sexual abuse, Jesus described alike situations when he said, “how great is that darkness!” Resembling when Jesus decried Pharisaism publicly and most aggressively, Christ used the lowest insult of all (comparing not just with Gentiles, but with the Gentile form of entertainment, “hypocrites”).
However, Jesus didn’t insult or cleanse the temple in uncontrolled anger. He could’ve opened the cages to let the doves fly away. Christ could’ve caused pandemonium if people had to chase animals and birds, but he didn’t. Jesus also insulted with the word “hypocrites” because it was the best illustration to expose what they were doing. He did it partly to guide the listening bystanders and his disciples who would later record what he said and did. But he even did it to give the hypocrites themselves their last chance at repentance.
THE WHEAT AND TARES AMONG US
Life is a series of missed opportunities, mistakes, and failures. It’s also—as long as we have even one breath left—a series of more opportunities, of chances to do right, and more lessons to learn. Praise God for every breath we have left to surrender, learn, and live for him!