Prejudice and Violence

By John Yieh

A Reading from the Gospel of John 10:31-42

31 The Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.” 34 Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’ — and the scripture cannot be annulled — 36 can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands.

40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. 41 Many came to him, and they were saying, “John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in him there.

Meditation

Stoning to death by an angry mob is a gruesome spectacle. It is shocking that some self-claimed pious people would commit such a brutal attack on Jesus. It is particularly appalling that these people had witnessed his many works of healing that could only be done by the power of God. In their judgment, Jesus still deserved a horrific death because he called himself God’s Son. For them, blasphemy was the highest crime against God, so they refused to consider how Jesus’ good works might prove his identity as the Son of God and demonstrate God’s love for God’s people.

Persistence in faith is a virtue, but prejudice often precludes evident truth and creates horrible persecution. Such atrocity has happened to the faithful prophets of God such as Elijah, Jeremiah, and John the Baptist, and sadly it continues to be perpetrated against whistleblowers and truth speakers today.  

Prejudice is not only found in religious zealots or political radicals. When we refuse to see the truth, we become spiritually blind. When we do not see the love of God that heals the wounds and gives new life, we can easily hide in an angry mob and use violence to assert self-righteousness and self-interest. Perhaps at the heart of all polarization, discrimination, and hatred that are breaking our society, be it racial-ethnic, political, social, economic, or cultural, is a deep-rooted prejudice that precludes the humanity of others or their ability to speak an uncomfortable truth  prejudice that needs to be recognized and removed. And it can be done only when we allow God’s Son, who willingly died on the cross to forgive our sins, to transform our hearts.  

Let us pray to God for ourselves and for the nation today that we may see at least one good work of God’s love among us and that our prejudice may be changed even just a bit.

The Rev. John Yueh Han Yieh, Ph.D., is professor in New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary and a New Testament editor for the Bible Society in Taiwan. Dr. Yieh enjoys his teaching ministry at VTS and is a frequent preacher and speaker in the U.S. and Asia.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Katsina – The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
Collegiate Church of St. Paul the Apostle, Savannah, Ga.

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