Jump Start # 2462
John 8:48 “The Jews answered and said to Him, ‘Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon.”
For a long time now, it is a tradition for a sports team that won the championship to visit the White House. This is true both in collegiate and professional sports. Recently, the Nationals won baseball’s World Series. The team was invited to the White House, where the president would greet them and honor their achievements. One of the Nationals players wore a red “Make America Great Again” hat that is associated with President Trump. That player has been thrashed severely on social media. Some have said that they will never be a fan of that team and of that player ever again. The ridicule has been harsh.
We live in times in which civil disagreement does not exist. Two cannot discuss their differences and remain kind and friendly. That doesn’t happen. If we disagree, especially politically, then name calling, character attacks, and a total disregard and disdain for that person fills the air, especially on social media.
What many forget is that this climate of hatred is nothing new. When Lincoln became president, he was so disrespected and hated, that most of the southern states pulled out of the union and formed their own country.
But way before that, we come to our verse today. The Jews hated Jesus. They twisted His words. They would not believe what He said. They tried to trip Him up and trap Him in difficult fabricated scenarios. They made up stuff. They ridiculed the followers of Jesus. And, in our verse today, they discredited Jesus by name calling.
Our verse today identifies two harsh and painful things said to Jesus. They said He had a demon, which implied that He was controlled by Satan and not God. He couldn’t be trusted, because He had a demon. He would likely do anything. In Mark 5, the demon possessed man was chained in a cemetery. He broke the chains and was a frightful terror to everyone. This is the likes that they put Jesus with. They didn’t see any good that He was doing. They didn’t see any truth to what He was saying. He was possessed.
But the most powerful and prejudicial attack was calling Jesus a “Samaritan.” That word was extremely racial. Samaritans weren’t true Jews. The Jews would have nothing to do with Samaritans. History tells us that most times, Jews would go around Samaria and not through it. If Jesus were a Samaritan, then the prophecies would not be about Him. If He was a Samaritan, He didn’t belong in Jerusalem. He ought to go back to “his people” and live in Samaria. There is no way the Messiah would be a Samaritan.
Maybe this was said because Jesus actually went to Samaria. While there He talked to the woman at the well. Jesus made a Samaritan the hero of one of the parables. We call it “The Parable of the Good Samaritan.” But likely, this is not where the Jews were reaching to call Jesus this term. They understood how just mentioning that word would set others off. They knew it was a “flame thrower” expression. We have certain racial words like that. They should never be said, under any circumstances. And, when they are, especially by public officials, it’s the death of their career. Calling Jesus a Samaritan was the same thing. They hoped it would be the end of “His career.” They hoped that people would walk away from Him.
Here are some thoughts:
First, name calling and belittling someone is cheap and childish. I have attended debates before where I sided more with the guy that I disagreed with doctrinally because the man speaking the truth was name calling, attacking the character and ridiculing the person as a means to score points. It didn’t work for me. You can say Jesus was a Samaritan, but that is not factual. His mother was a Jew. His step father was a Jew. His true Father is God. He was not born in Samaria. He did not grow up in Samaria. His disciples were not from Samaria. Throwing darts without any evidence, proof or support eventually makes you look bad.
Second, our spirit, language, tone and attitude has a lot to do with whether the discussion becomes heated or calm. Differences ought to be discussed. No one holds the market on truth other than God. It takes two people to have an argument. If someone is getting louder and meaner, then it is a good time to break up the conversation until everyone can calm down. Look at facts. Don’t quote what others have said. Do your homework. Truth has nothing to fear.
Third, there is a time to be silent. Before Herod, Jesus was silent. Many times before Pilate, Jesus was silent. There are times when someone is not wanting to hear what you say. There are times when every word you say will be twisted and taken out of context. It is in those settings, that it is best to be quiet. Peter tells us that Jesus left us an example of how to suffer. He didn’t respond to everything said about Him. He didn’t throw darts back. The following verse Jesus said, “I do not have a demon and I honor My Father. You dishonor Me.”
Fourth, how people handle disagreements says a lot about their character. Some don’t do well. They get mad. They toss every word they can think of. Some will stoop to cussing, trash talking and even doing mean and violent acts against the one they disagree with. The people of God must be different. There will always be disagreements. Husbands and wives disagree. Listen to the conversations going out the church door on Sunday morning. “Where do you want to go to eat?” A suggestion is made. The other one says, “I don’t want to go there.” Parents and teens disagree. Brethren disagree. Neighbors disagree. Politically we disagree. There are disagreements about spiritual matters. About the only way to avoid disagreements is to live by yourself in a cave. The issue is not how to avoid disagreements, but rather, how to disagree in a way that still honors God and does not disrespect the other person. Remember the person you disagree with is loved by God and Jesus died for that person.
You are a Samaritan. That’s about the same as saying you are a worthless idiot. That doesn’t make you right. In fact what it does is show poor judgment on your part. We are in the season of political ads on TV. Some of them are blunt, nasty and name calling. One after another and the person at home watching all of these ads has no idea if any of them are telling the truth. It leaves a sour taste in our mouth and it opens the door for us to treat others the same way.
No one is killed by thunder. Volume, name calling and character attacks do not prove one is right. Truth, like lightning, is precise and speaks for itself. Leave the shouting for the ballgames. Toss the ugly name calling. Treat others as you would like to be treated.
This ought to be true politically, religiously, and domestically.