Quit Arguing

John 4:1-5

1 Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were), 3 He left Judea and went away again into Galilee. 4 And He had to pass through Samaria. 5 So He *came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph;

This chapter involves the story of Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman at the well.  It was hard for me to pick a “stopping point” for today’s passage because I thoroughly enjoy this story.  I realized, however, that it’s easy for us to take a story like this and miss the little bits and pieces within the story, the principles which, combined, make the story whole.

Here we see that Jesus and His disciples are beginning to stir up trouble with the religious zealots of the time.  Now, it appears that the Pharisees had accepted what John the Baptist had been doing, but when Jesus and His disciples started “out working” John the Baptist, they saw that as a challenge, since they had not yet approved His ministry.  I pause here to present the definition of the Pharisees, since I think it tends to be one of those words that Christians scoff at and we all accept them as “bad” but may not fully understand who they were:

“a member of a Jewish sect of the intertestamental period noted for strict observance of rites and ceremonies of the written law and for insistence on the validity of their own oral traditions concerning the law”

I find it interesting that verse 2 articulates that Jesus was just overseeing the baptisms, not performing them himself.  From a leadership standpoint, this is one of the ways that Jesus taught His disciples by having them actually perform the act instead of just watching.  Likewise, it opens the door for other followers to baptize others as well.

The next three verses made me stop and think.  Why is Jesus “running away”?  I mean, in other parts of scripture we see Him standing up to the religious leaders but here, He seemingly flees.  Now some may credit this to the fact that He had other plans (such as the ensuing story about the woman at the well in Samaria).  But, the story is not presented to us like this.  My question is this: why did he “flee” instead of stay there and fight?  Some may view this as strategic planning; others may say it is cowardice.  My viewpoint is this: it wasn’t worth it.

We’ve heard the phrase “pick and choose your battles.”  I don’t know if that applies to this situation, but it is clear to me that there was no reason to argue the point here.  The Pharisees saw it as a challenge to their authority and it really wasn’t.  They got all hyped up and ready to defend themselves or to disqualify Jesus’ actions when all He was trying to do is get people to question their lives and make efforts for positive change.  This wasn’t necessarily a salvation moment; He hadn’t been crucified yet, so the baptism here was exactly as that of John the Baptist and his disciples.  The Pharisees set out to fight a battle because of their pride and piety, without knowing what was really going on.  Some of us would have stayed and “fought it out” out of principle, I very well might have, but what would that accomplish?  It would have made Jesus and His crew a target for no good reason.  It would have disturbed the masses for no real purpose.  All those who had been baptized that day might then question their conversion and fade away instead of pursuing their newly purposed lives.  So, if Jesus would have stood there and fought, regardless of the outcome, it could have negatively affected all those who were there that day.  To me, I see this as choosing to preserve the hearts of many instead of defending an honor or pride that wasn’t really that important anyway.

How often do we choose to stand and argue over something that in the end won’t really benefit anybody anyway: specifically our religious beliefs or political views?  At the end of the argument, nobody is convinced, nobody is enlightened, instead everyone is ticked off at each other because there is no agreement made and now there is a hindrance and distraction in the relationship.  I’ve seen family get togethers destroyed because of this very occurrence, to the point that rules had to be made not to discuss certain topics because nobody could get along and feelings always got hurt.  How about the mother or father who makes a stink in their child’s school over something at the cost of their child’s own reputation or comfort in the school?  “You might not think so now, but this is for your own good.”  Really?  You don’t have to go back into school the next day and be “that kid.”

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we need to realize that many more things and people are more important than our own pride and beliefs.  It’s one thing to stand up for yourself, it’s another to waste time, energy, and possibly affect someone else’s life just because you don’t like what someone else is doing.

What are you arguing about that is pointless?

I don’t know if that applies to this situation, but it is clear to me that there was no reason to argue the point here.  The Pharisees saw it as a challenge to their authority and it really wasn’t.  They got all hyped up and ready to defend themselves or to disqualify Jesus’ actions when all He was trying to do is get people to question their lives and make efforts for positive change.  This wasn’t necessarily a salvation moment; He hadn’t been crucified yet, so the baptism here was exactly as that of John the Baptist and his disciples.  The Pharisees set out to fight a battle because of their pride and piety, without knowing what was really going on.  Some of us would have stayed and “fought it out” out of principle, I very well might have, but what would that accomplish?  It would have made Jesus and His crew a target for no good reason.  It would have disturbed the masses for no real purpose.  All those who had been baptized that day might then question their conversion and fade away instead of pursuing their newly purposed lives.  So, if Jesus would have stood there and fought, regardless of the outcome, it could have negatively affected all those who were there that day.  To me, I see this as choosing to preserve the hearts of many instead of defending an honor or pride that wasn’t really that important anyway.

How often do we choose to stand and argue over something that in the end won’t really benefit anybody anyway: specifically our religious beliefs or political views?  At the end of the argument, nobody is convinced, nobody is enlightened, instead everyone is ticked off at each other because there is no agreement made and now there is a hindrance and distraction in the relationship.  I’ve seen family get togethers destroyed because of this very occurrence, to the point that rules had to be made not to discuss certain topics because nobody could get along and feelings always got hurt.  How about the mother or father who makes a stink in their child’s school over something at the cost of their child’s own reputation or comfort in the school?  “You might not think so now, but this is for your own good.”  Really?  You don’t have to go back into school the next day and be “that kid.”

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we need to realize that many more things and people are more important than our own pride and beliefs.  It’s one thing to stand up for yourself, it’s another to waste time, energy, and possibly affect someone else’s life just because you don’t like what someone else is doing.

What are you arguing about that is pointless?


3 thoughts on “Quit Arguing

  1. Pingback: Jesus in Politics
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