“I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them."
~ John 16:1 - 4
Sometimes I truly wonder what Jesus was thinking when it came to organized religion about now after his resurrection? He obviously already had it all figured out. The betrayal, the money, the holy kiss, and of course, those pious leaders.
But now, he is back, and obviously his return is surely causing all the players that placed him in the tomb to think as well.
I've often wondered what this all may have looked like had the events of Jesus' life taken place today.
While thousands of viewers awaited the birth of a giraffe to stream live on the world wide web, would there have been live streaming of Jesus' life?
Would Peter have pulled out his phone to catch the initial steps of the brave Disciple stepping out of the boat onto the sea? What about at the tomb of Lazarus, would a news crew been present with minute by minute commentary of how Jesus first met this man, and his sisters. Would there have been filmed segments from earlier times in their lives, and how this friendship was different than any other?
Would an expert been on hand to explain why Jesus wept, and what they may or may not have meant?
What of the woman at the well? Would they have gone out and interviewed her previous husbands, and the wife of the current husband she was now in a relationship with?
And then, the day Christ came into town upon a colt? The thoughts of the crowds? Would there have been a YouTube video on how to choose the perfect palm and how to wave the palm in sync to the sound of the yelling crowd?
The night of the betrayal would surely have been a scene straight out of a reality television show, and of course, the arrest, the trial, and painfully, the execution. A "Behind the Man, Herod, the REAL STORY" would have had sponsors lined up to buy ads.
What is it about our love for human tragedy and the need to somehow orchestrate a way to be included, whether present or from a distance?
Jesus has now experienced it all, and he is conveying to his followers that they are "next!"
He is explaining that at some point, even they will be turned away from the synagogue, and that there would be those who will purposely harm and even kill them in the name of religion!
No longer is Jesus just talking about loving one another. There is more. There are those out there that no matter what you do, are going to persecute you, and some of them may even be the people you sit next to in church!
This was not meant to cause a sense of distrust or paranoia within the synagogue or with one another. For Jesus, it was a followup with what he had just encountered, and that if this did happen to any of those he shared this message with, that somehow God would still be glorified.
On this day, Jesus was trying to prepare those with him that he would be leaving again, and he simply wants them to be ready. The same goes for us today. We all know that there will be times when we find that we may struggle, and that others may turn away, or say things that may hurt us because we may think or say something different.
Jesus didn't tell those around him that it was going to get any easier, however, he does reassure that God will be present and find a way to lay claim to each of us, even on our worst of days.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Dear God, for I know that You are with me always. Help me to remain strong when I feel like I am alone. Thank You for loving me through all the circumstances of my life. Amen.
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.