The power to deal with humiliation and insults
Text: John 8: 48-59
Text verse: Joh. 8:48
In the previous chapter Jesus points out to us that the Jews think they are children of God, but their actions do not show it. Jesus’ wisdom made these Jews feel powerless, because for everything they said, He had an answer and He was not afraid to point out their sin.
This action left the Jews more and more desperate, driving them to do something to Jesus. They could not silence Him with words and reasoning. Also, they had no evidence that carried enough weight to arrest Him.
The result was that they insulted Jesus, calling Him a Samaritan. The Jews used this word as a slur. By using it, they said that Jesus is wrong and not truly one of them. Also, they say that Jesus is of the devil, thus denying His calling in the service of the Father.
Insults are something that each of us can associate with. We have all been insulted in some way at some or other time. When we are offended and hurt, we usually choose to respond in one of three possible ways.
You fight by returning the insult. You freeze or remain silent because you are so stunned, you don’t know what to say. Or you flee because you are ashamed and feel bad.
What is striking about Jesus’ response is that He does not do any of these things. Yes, He reacts, but not to hurt. It is rather to point them to the truth. He confirms who He is.
Jesus helps us view insults and humiliating situations differently. Here He gives us some truths that we need to hold on to in such a situation.
1. Know who you are (vs. 49)
Jesus knows that He is not of the devil, but of the Father. He was sent by Him to this world to save us. That is why we are now children of God.
When the reality of Jesus’ salvation takes hold of our hearts, we will no longer be bothered by peoples’ insults because we know who we are in Him. He saved us and that is why we are now in His service. Like Paul, we can also detach ourselves from what is behind us and look to what is ahead (Phil. 3).
2. Seek the glory of God (vs. 50)
The next step is self-examination. We need to prayerfully examine our motives by looking at whether it is for our own glory or for God’s glory. We are in the service of the Lord and therefore our goal must always be to glorify Him (also see Ps. 115: 1).
3. Focus on your final destination (vs. 51)
The third step is to focus on where we are headed. Abraham looked ahead to the day of the Lord. In Hebrews it is beautifully stated: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.” (Heb. 11:13).
We must realise that we are only strangers and sojourners on earth. Jesus was willing to be treated as a stranger on earth so that we can enter into the glory of eternal life. Our final destination is eternal! Therefore, we will often be treated as strangers.
4. The Father glorifies us (vs. 54)
Most wonderful of all is that salvation in Christ makes us realise that we do not need the honour of men. We have received greater honour in Jesus. He cleanses us from all our iniquities to be glorified by the Father. We receive that honour from being children of God. We can hear, “well done dutiful and faithful slave” because Jesus was faithful in our place.
When we take Jesus’ words and salvation to heart, our lives change. Peoples’ insults will no longer have the same effect on us.