Difficulties With People

How Jesus dealt with difficult people

One of the most difficult parts of life is trying to get along with difficult people.

If we are trusting in Jesus as our Savior then how we treat those who are difficult is extremely important. The best place to learn how to interact with people is by examining the way that Jesus spoke to, and treated, those whom He met.

In this section we see how Jesus dealt with difficult people and how He expects us to act and react in our own interactions.

Control Over Those Who Were In Control

Considering that Jesus is described by the New Testament as the Creator of all that exists, it is truly incredible that He allows evil men to mistreat and abuse Him. Though Jesus was innocent of any wrongdoing, He does not resist nor seek to defend Himself while under the threat of death.

When soldiers come to arrest and take Him by force. Jesus’ only concern is for the men who are with Him. He asks that His disciples be spared any harm while He goes quietly without any resistance or protest.

The Soldiers never realized that the One whom they were arresting was allowing them to take Him so that He could die for their sins the very next day. A startling event takes place at the Garden of Gethsemane which shows us that Jesus was still fully in control although He willingly surrenders.

Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground. Then He asked them again, “Whom are you seeking?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way,” that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, “Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.”  ~John 18:3-9

When the soldiers come to arrest Jesus at the garden of Gethsemane, He made it clear to those who came to take Him by force that they were not orchestrating His arrest; He was allowing these soldiers to arrest Him. As the soldiers approach Jesus, He assumes a place of authority by questioning them: Whom are you seeking? When the soldiers answer “Jesus of Nazareth,” Jesus answers; “I AM.” The translators later added “He,” but this word was not in the original Greek manuscript of this encounter. By answering “I AM,” Jesus was using the eternal name for God—signifying that it was He who was orchestrating these events that would lead to His death and resurrection.

As Jesus speaks the words, “I AM,” the power of the eternal God bursts forth, causing the soldiers to fall backwards.

Jesus was making a very important statement to demonstrate that He was allowing these soldiers to arrest Him. No one at any time had authority over Jesus. It was He who was surrendering His life, and allowing the soldiers to take Him in order to fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament—so that all those who would believe in Him could be saved.

In Exodus 3:14, God instructed Moses to call Him “I AM.” [1] Jesus was telling these soldierse who came to arrest Him that He is the eternal God. Jesus later confirmed this fact when He spoke to the Pharisees in John, chapter 8.

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” John 8:58

John confirms that what was happening when the soldiers fell backwards when Jesus said that He is the Great I Am, was predicted by David, in writing Psalms 40:14 about the Messiah, prophesies that: Those Who seek to destroy my life; Let them be driven backward. These are the exact words of John’s testimony which occurred when Jesus said, “I am He.”

The Principle: In this example, we see how important it is as the followers of Jesus that we do not resist evil people when they come against us. It is best to remain silent and not answer their verbal assaults against us. If we really believe that God is in control of all things in this world, then we will not resist and instead commit ourselves to the plans and purposes of God. This is a first and primary principle for dealing with difficult people: don’t fight them with a verbal or physical response. Let these people say whatever they want and refuse to answer—because you have confidence that this is what God wants for us to do.

Pontius Pilate

Jesus was fully in control of when and where He would make His sacrifice for our sins; both in His death by crucifixion and by His resurrection three days later. Jesus boldly declared before He was crucified; “no one had the power to take His life from Him.”

Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father. John 10:17-18

As Jesus is questioned by Pilate and warned that a continued refusal to answer could result in crucifixion, Jesus broke His silence to remind Pilate that he was not in control; only the Father had authority over Jesus’ life.

Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.” John 19:10-11

Jesus was in authority over how and when He offered His life for all of us. When He spoke the words from the cross, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit,” He did so to remind us that He was fulfilling this prophecy written by David, from Psalms 31:5. Jesus was very careful to make sure that anyone who would read the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah would immediately realize that it was Him—whom David was describing.

Pilate Brings Jesus Before The People Once Again:

After Jesus has been scourging by 39 strikes upon His body, He is a medical catastrophe. From His calves to His shoulders, the flesh from Jesus’ body hangs in ribbons. Bleeding profusely—barely able to stand—Pilate brings the Lord before those who cried out for His death.

Pilate then went out again, and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him.” 5 Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, “Behold the Man!” Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.” Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid...  John 19:4

It is apparent from earlier text, that Pilate had seriously considered that Jesus was no ordinary man. When Jesus was questioned and He did not seek to defend Himself, the scriptures indicate that Pilate was amazed by His silence.

Perhaps, the Roman leader had never heard a man refuse to defend himself when he was under the threat of death. From Pilate’s view, Jesus appeared to be innocent. He wondered why Jesus would not defend Himself against the many false accusations that had been brought against Him. Surely, Jesus understood that should the Jews be successful in their condemnation of Him, this would mean His certain death.

Pilate was perplexed by the abiding question: “Why would Jesus not try to save His own life?” This must have given Pilate great pause in considering the true identity of this ominous figure before him.

Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.  ~Matthew 27:13-14

In John 19:8 above, when the Jews inform Pilate that their primary charge against Jesus was His claim to be the Son of God, this caused great fear in the heart of Pilate. It is certain, by the account given in the gospels, that Pilate didn’t want to condemn Jesus—believing Him to be innocent and perhaps even imagining that He was who He claimed to be. We learn later that Pilate’s wife had experienced a dream in which she understood that Jesus was innocent. She had apparently shared this dream with her husband, while he sat in judgement over Jesus.

While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.” Matthew 27:19

Seeking to have Jesus clarify His true identity, Pilate turns to Him, to ask Him once more…

Pilate went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.” John 19:9

It is my opinion that after Jesus informs Pilate that His arrest by false charges and condemnation to death, were events that His Father had determined, not by the authority of the Roman Procurator, that this statement terrified Pilate.

Unfortunately, like Judas, Pilate’s belief did not bring him into a saving faith. He didn’t have the courage to stand up against the Jews and his own fears to set Jesus free. Like many people today, fear over what people might think—should they publicly declare their faith in Jesus, or the fear of losing a career or material wealth, are insurmountable obstacles to fully committing themselves to Jesus.

For us in our learning about how Jesus dealt with people who are in opposition, we see that He fully committed Himself to the Father and trusted Him to work all things according to His plan.

The Principle: Jesus didn’t try to stop Pilate because He understood that if the Father wanted Pilate to stop and spare Jesus, it would happen. An important principle here is that we should not fight against our circumstances and try to get ourselves out of the difficulties we are in. According to Jesus’ example, we should stop striving and being afraid and instead, trust our circumstances to the Father.

A Demonstration Of Power And Authority

The truest definition of “meekness,” is “power under control.” When we examine all of the evidence of Jesus life, we see that in the shadow of His meekness there are clear signs of authority. In this section we will see that as Jesus submitted His life to the evil men of this earth who sought His death, He was always in control of every situation.

Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.” John 19:10-11

When Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate, He was questioned about the charges that the Jews had made against Him. Although Jesus is the Living God and retained the power to destroy Pilate and every person who falsely accused and condemned Him, He remains silent.

There Are Two Possible Reasons For Why Jesus Said Nothing:

One: According to the law, the accused cannot be compelled to incriminate himself.

Today in the United States, a person accused of a crime is protected from self incrimination by the 5th amendment to the constitution. A similar law was in existence at the time that the High Priest questioned Jesus. It was illegal to compel Jesus to incriminate Himself. The Jews violated this law and then convicted Him because He would not answer.

According to Jewish Law:

“No one can bring an accusation against himself. Should a man make confession of guilt before a legally constituted tribunal, such confession is not to be said against him unless properly attested by two witnesses.”[2] -Maimonides

No attempt can be made to lead a man on to self-incrimination. Moreover, a voluntary confession on his part is not admitted in evidence, and therefore, not competent to convict him, unless a legal number of witnesses minutely corroborate his self-accusation.”[3] -Mendelsohn

Two: It is my opinion that when Jesus refused to answer the High Priest and Pilate, it was because He was representing us at the trial for our sins. Because we are guilty and could offer no defense for our actions, Jesus said nothing as He represented us.

As we examine Jesus’ silence from a legal standpoint, we may also conjecture that Jesus did not answer the High Priest because He was aware that the law did not required Him to answer so as to incriminate Himself.

And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” Mark 14:60

Isaiah 53:7 predicts that the Messiah will remain silent before His accusers.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth. Isaiah 53:7

The High Priest continues to press Jesus for an answer. Whatever Jesus said from that point on, should have been inadmissible, because the very judge who should have examined the evidence with impartiality, pressured Jesus to answer him.

But He kept silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Mark 14:61-62

The Sanhedrin eventually condemns Jesus to death on evidence that was illegally obtained, and was therefore inadmissible.

We might take a similar view of Jesus silence as He stands now before Pilate:

Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, “Do You answer nothing? See how many things they testify against You!” But Jesus still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled. Mark 15:4-5

While in His suffering for our sins, Jesus was fully in control of all the circumstances of His life, death, and resurrection. No man really had the ability to take authority over Jesus because He remained the King of the Universe, even as He was assuming the position of a servant to die for the sins of the world.

In your difficulties with people and their harsh treatment of you, remember this example where Jesus acted in a manner that is completely different from how most of us would react. It is in our confidence and trust that God knows what is happening and He is directing the outcome, that we can allow people to say and do whatever they want, while we remain quiet and confident.

Peter Denies Jesus

When Jesus was crucified, everyone who had followed Him so closely and had proclaimed their faithfulness, even to their death, were scattered. The reality of life is that we are rarely able to follow through on the commitments we make. Before Jesus was arrested, He spoke these words to the disciples:

Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”  ~Matthew 26:31-32

Peter, with all of his enthusiasm, boldly proclaimed, “I will never be made to stumble.”

Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.  ~Matthew 26:33-35

It was not long after his bold proclamation that Peter failed miserably and did exactly what Jesus had told him that he would do. Under pressure from a simple servant girl, Peter collapsed in his commitment to Jesus. Finally, when he was questioned again and again whether he had been with Jesus, Peter “cursed” and said, “I do not know the man.”

And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.” And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.” But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!” And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.” Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.  ~Matthew 26:69-75

Luke records a detail that is not included in Matthew’s account of this denial of Jesus by Peter. Jesus apparently told Peter in advance of his disloyalty, that satan had “asked” for Peter to “sift him as wheat.” Then Jesus said something to Peter that I find remarkable:

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”  ~Luke 22:31-32

“When you have returned to me, strengthen your brethren.”

Jesus is saying to Peter, “I am telling you before it happens, you are going to fail. When the pressure is on, you are going to deny me. When you realize your failure and you recover, take what you have learned and go to the other believers and strengthen them.”

Because all of us struggle and fail, it helps to know someone else who has also fallen. When we hear how the Lord kept them, forgave them, and restored them, knowing about the personal experience of another person who has also failed, can be enough to set us back on the right course again.

The Principle: As His little flock, Jesus knows that we are going to stumble. We will all fail and fall during our time here on earth, as we try to follow Jesus. The most important point to remember is that when we fail, we should get back up and continue to follow Jesus. Equally important, that we are honest with other believers and admit our failures and share with them what we have learned; as we return to Jesus and continue to walk with Him. By sharing our own personal experiences in following the Lord, we can strengthen the entire body of Christ.

The Leaders Of Israel

There is a particularly interesting place in the New Testament where Jesus confounds the leaders of Israel. These men were highly trained in the Hebrew scriptures and experts in the Law. They achieved their great positions of power because they were intelligent and able to impeach any argument against the existing laws of Israel.

When the Pharisees gathered before Jesus to question Him, it was with the intent of publicly discrediting Him before all those who were listening. Instead, these men were, themselves, confounded. The text that the Pharisees used to trap Jesus was a well-known verse from Psalm 110:1a. In this portion of scripture, The LORD God, is saying to the Messiah, “sit at my right hand till I make your enemies my footstool.” The Pharisees believed that they already knew the answer to this question: “What do you think about the Christ (Messiah), Whose Son is He.” These men believed that the Messiah was the Son of David.

The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” Psalms 110:1a

New Testament Fulfillment:

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.” He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool” ’? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” Matthew 22:41-45

Jesus asks the Pharisees; “if the Messiah is David’s son, then why is He called “Lord”? In other words, how could the Messiah be a human being (David’s son) and also be Lord (God’s Son)?

These men knew and understood that this verse of scripture that Jesus was referring to, was about the Messiah. Only the Messiah could sit at the right hand of Jehovah/God. Jesus believed that these verses from Psalm 110:1 were inspired by God and were true—as did these leaders of Israel. How then, Jesus wanted to know, “if the Messiah is David’s son, how can He also be David’s Lord?”

The Pharisees did not have an answer. They were all bewildered, but not Jesus. The obvious answer to this question is that the Messiah will be both; David’s Lord and His Son, a fact that Jesus made concerning Himself.

The reality that Jesus is both David’s son and his Lord is confirmed by Jesus’ question that He asked of the Pharisees: “How can the coming Christ, the Messiah, be both David’s Son and his Lord?”

When Jesus asks this question of the religious leadership of Israel, no one was able to answer Him. This is because it was generally accepted by the Jews that Psalms 110:1 was speaking of the Messiah. If the Messiah is both a son and Lord, He must also be God and man. The idea that God could be dwelling within the person of Jesus Christ, was a reality that was totally unacceptable to the leaders of Israel. Yet, this is precisely what David was predicting when he penned Psalms 110:1.

As Jesus presents their own scriptures, which clearly prove that the Messiah will be both a human being—as He is David’s descendant—and the Lord of heaven, the Pharisees are confounded. They realize that Jesus is claiming to be the one whom David speaks of. As a result, these men are perplexed; they do not know what they should do with Jesus. He accurately interprets David’s true intent when He wrote this Psalm—Yet the reality that Jehovah could be standing before them in the form of a man, was beyond their ability to accept or comprehend. See the chapter: Son and Lord, for more information.

(Jesus told the Pharisees:) You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. John 5:39

The Principle: The primary point of this interaction between Jesus and the Pharisees is to demonstrate that the way to overcome objections and questions about God and His word is by using the words of the Bible. Some people do not believe that the Bible is reliable or the word of God is true. This is of no consequence because truth does not depend upon whether people accept it or not. When confronted with questions or objections about God or spiritual matters, we respond with what the Bible says, not what men or society says.If people do not accept what the Bible says this is not our responsibility. After we state what God has said, we leave it at that and do not continue with arguments.

Pilate, Caiaphas, And Herod

The truest definition of “meekness,” is “power under control.” When we examine all of the evidence of Jesus’ life, we see that in the shadow of His meekness there are clear signs of authority. In this section we will see that as Jesus submitted His life to the evil men of this earth who sought His death, He was always in control of every situation. This subject was previously touched upon in this chapter and is further developed here.

When Pilate scolds and threatens Jesus for not answering him, Jesus speaks up and informs this Roman ruler that the only reason that He is standing before Pilate is because his authority to do so was given to him by God.

Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” 11 Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.” John 19:10-11

While in His suffering for our sins, Jesus was fully in control of all the circumstances of His life, death, and resurrection. No man really had the ability to take authority over Jesus because He remained the King of the Universe, even as He was assuming the position of a servant to die for the sins of the world.

The mouths of the most powerful men in Judea were shut by Jesus, as He demonstrates that He has power over all the events of history, even when He says or does nothing to defend Himself.

There is an interesting prophecy that was made by Zechariah 11:8a in which he predicts that three shepherds will be dismissed in one month.

I dismissed the three shepherds in one month. My soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me. Zechariah 11:8a

The Three Shepherds Are:

  • Caiaphas (Matthew 26:57-68)
  • Pontius Pilate (Matthew 27:11-31)
  • Herod (Luke 23:7-11)

As a result of Jesus being brought before these three evil rulers, God holds them accountable for their actions which led to the death of the Messiah. All three of these shepherds are judged by the Lord in the very same month, after they condemned Jesus and did nothing to save His life. Each ruler had their own careers and lives prematurely ended by God. This, in fulfillment of the word of God through the prophet Zechariah.

Caiaphas was the High Priest in Israel who led the Sanhedrin and the entire nation into the rejection of Jesus as their Messiah.

Pontius Pilate saw every evidence that Jesus was innocent. By his wife’s testimony that Jesus was a good man and her warning that Pilate should not participate in His conviction, He continued in fear of the crowd. Pilate stood guilty of Jesus blood, without he was without excuse. He had observed Jesus’ refusal to defend Himself when He was repeatedly accused of crimes that Pilate knew Jesus did not commit. This Roman ruler was amazed at Jesus’ silence, indicating that Jesus was probably the only man that he had ever known who did not try to defend Himself or give an answer for the crimes which He was accused of. Instead of following his conscience and letting Jesus go free, Pilate was a coward and feared what the Sanhedrin might do if he did not turn Jesus over to be crucified.

Herod never examined the evidence against Jesus himself to see if He was truly guilty. Herod brutally treated Jesus, with great contempt; returning Him to Pilate, who finally put Him to death.

Although there was no real credible evidence against Jesus that should have warranted His death by crucifixion, these three shepherds refused to defend Jesus or even call for a proper trial to be conducted.

Zechariah’s prophecy stated that three leaders of Israel would be dismissed as a result of their harsh treatment of the Messiah.

  • Caiaphas was dismissed by the Syrian governor, Lucius Vitellius, who was appointed by the Roman Government.[4]
  • Pilate killed himself when he was banished from his job because of his corruption in overseeing Israel.[5]
  • Herod was removed by the Romans and exiled until he died.[6]

When these three condemned Jesus and did nothing to save His life, they all had their own careers, and lives, prematurely ended by God. This, in fulfillment of the word of God through the prophet Zechariah.

It is interesting that each of these rulers found the end of their careers in the same month that they betrayed Jesus—just as Zechariah had predicted: I dismissed the three shepherds in one month.[7]

The Principle: In seeing that Jesus did not need to defend Himself or seek to achieve His will in any situation because the Father was controlling all the events. This principle is also true of those who wish to place themselves under the same authority. As we determine to not fight and strive to get our way with people and the different situations of our life, the Father notices our surrender and He takes over. The outcome is now in His hands and we can rest in His care and find peace through surrender.

The Disciples

As is always true of Jesus, He is immensely more concerned for others than He is for Himself. Jesus is the most others-oriented person who has ever lived. There was nothing that He would hold on to in pouring out His life to redeem us. If we examine the lives of the men whom Jesus chose to be His disciples and lead the church, we would be shocked to learn that they were all a bunch of misfits. Each man had serious problems with certain sins in their life, and they were not really the kind of leadership material that we might think that Jesus would choose to lead His kingdom.

  • Peter was impetuous and quick tempered, impulsively changing his mind, often.
  • Simon was materialistic; his concerns were centered around money and property.
  • James was seemingly insignificant to most men, called “the younger.”
  • Andrew was very insecure, the brother of Peter, a loner, dependent on his family.
  • John was prideful, called himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Wanted to call fire down from heaven to destroy those who opposed him.
  • Phillip was a perfectionist, a bit of a control freak; calculating and inquisitive.
  • Nathaniel was a skeptic and opinionated. When he was told that they had found the Messiah, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Nathaniel said: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
  • Thomas, known as the “doubter,” was a skeptic and quite cynical. A man very suspicious of the things people said, wanting proof before he would believe what someone had claimed.
  • James, the elder, stubborn and unwilling to change.
  • Matthew was hated by most people because he was formerly a Roman tax collector.
  • Thaddeus was a man who was constantly wavering between his beliefs and often had ulterior motives for what he did.
  • Judas betrayed Jesus, though he pretended to love Him and be His friend.
  • Paul was a former murderer of Christians, a wealthy and influential, intellectual.

Knowing these men well, and understanding their frame; that they were all imperfect and capable of failure at any time, Jesus brings each one before the Father. Not long after Jesus intercedes on behalf of these men—who were defined as “Apostles,” Jesus would be arrested, forced to endure six unjust trials throughout the night; finally beaten, tortured, humiliated; and crucified.

These are the men that Jesus chose to lead His church and make it possible for the whole world to know the Messiah and be saved. How amazing!

For this reason, Jesus prayed fervently for these dear men. Not focussing on who they were, at that point—with all of their imperfections; but instead, looking forward to who they were going to be, once the “promise of the Father” came—the Holy Spirit. This promise was fulfilled in the Book of Acts Chapter 2, as all these weak and imperfect men were filled with the Holy Spirit and became the mighty men of God, who changed the whole world by the message of Jesus’ cross. See Exegetical Principles for an example of the power that these disciples exhibited as drastically changed men, after they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

Verses 6-8: “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7 Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. 8 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.”

As we consider the shortcomings of all the disciples, we should remember that these were the men that the Father chose for Jesus. As the Lord called each one, though they were weak and inadequate; they left their old lives and began to follow Jesus—in spite of their inadequacies. When each man realized who Jesus was, they received Him as their Messiah, without hesitation. We should remember that Jesus chose each of these men before they were actually saved. It was in the process of their relationship with Jesus that they came to know who He was, and accept Him as their Savior. Jesus loved each man, even while they were sinners; full of inadequacies, past failures, and present struggles with sin. Jesus took each man as they were, and made them into the men that He needed them to be. This was all accomplished by the Holy Spirit, who lives within the heart of every person who calls on the name of Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Verse 9: “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.”

In verse 9, Jesus’ focus is on the eleven men who were still with Him. Judas has revealed himself as a traitor and has been lost due to his unwillingness to sincerely repent and return to Jesus. Judas was not lost because he sinned; he was lost because he would not return and be saved. The Lord never gives up on us, and He will patiently wait for our entire life in order to give us the opportunity to confess our sins and be saved.

Verse 10: “And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.”

We should not miss Jesus’ statement in verse 10: “All Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine…” By these words, Jesus is declaring, in His prayer to the Father; that He is equal to God the Father. In the construction of this phrase, we see that Jesus (Mine) and the Father (Yours) have the same importance and authority.

Verse 11: “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.”

Recognizing all of the pitfalls of this life, Jesus fervently prays for the Father to protect each of the disciples in the years ahead. Jesus uses an important phrase in describing the Father—Holy Father—recognizing the eternal perfection and righteousness that God has in making all the things that Jesus has petitioned Him for, to take place. Jesus’ requests to the Father, on behalf of the disciples, is based on the goodness and perfection of God; not on the imperfection and sinfulness of men. This world is full of evil and corruption that is observable every day. We wonder how the Lord could permit such evil to go on for so long. The answer is: He is waiting for sinners to repent and turn to Him so that He can save them. Secondly, He will not permit evil and rebellion for much longer. There is a day fast approaching when it will be too late and no one can be saved. Thankfully, that day has not arrived yet, and there is still a brief moment of time when all those who will come, can be saved.

Jesus asks the Father to keep those who keep the commandments of God (the Greek word is tereo, which is normally used to define obedience) (John 8:51, 52, 55, 14:15). The idea that Jesus seems to imply here, by His use of tereo, is to ask the Father to preserve each of these men, as their defender.

Jesus asks the Father to manifest the protection of these men “through His name.” It is the name of God that holds the infinite power of the universe. A person’s name is a representation of who he is as a person. When someone speaks our name to another, we are known by the things that we do. Our name become synonymous with our actions. Here, the name of God is synonymous with His righteous acts, which are always good.

Verse 12: “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”

On the final night of Jesus’ life here on earth, He was thinking of these eleven men—and Paul who would join them in a few years, who would be left on this immensely difficult planet. While Jesus was with them, He was able to guide and protect these men, provide all their needs, and teach them. Now that Jesus was going to be crucified and then raised to life three days later, the disciples would be left on the earth to continue what Jesus began.

The word “kept” here is different from “keep” in verse 11 (tereo). This Greek word for keep, as used by Jesus, is phylasso (to guard or protect). The purpose of this word is to define Jesus intent for the disciples while He was still here on earth; He would guard these men against external attacks from satan. Now that Jesus will be departing for heaven, He is trusting the Holy Spirit to take over the role of protection for those who have committed their lives to Him.

Jesus refers to Judas as “the son of perdition,” a term used only one other place in the New Testament: 2 Thessalonians 2:3, speaking of the antichrist. For this reason, some commentators have stated that Judas and the antichrist may be one and the same person. Others have stated that the term “son of perdition” is a title given to someone who is given to evil. It is certain that no words found in the Bible are there by accident; and that if both Judas and the antichrist are called by the same name, there is a significance to this usage. If it were simply a term for evil in a generic form, then we would expect to see other uses of this term in the New Testament scriptures. We should understand that Judas was greatly loved by Jesus. He was given the place of highest honor during the Last Supper—at Jesus’ right hand. Judas had the opportunity to repent and be saved, up until the final moment when he decided, of his own free will, to choose evil and betray Jesus. Though the Lord did not want Judas to be lost, He would not move with His great power, to prevent Judas nor anyone else from expressing their own will in choosing to be saved or to be lost. Once Judas made his decision, it became impossible for him to repent and turn back; for his heart was seared and past feeling, unable to repent. This is a solemn reminder that should we continue to reject Jesus over and over again, we may reach a point where our conscience is also seared, and it will be impossible for us to repent and receive Jesus. See Betrayed by a Friend, the Messiah will be betrayed by a close friend for thirty pieces of silver.

Verse 13: “But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.”

A very touching and heartfelt petition from Jesus to the Father on behalf of the disciples: In the midst of all of their difficulties, Jesus prays that they might experience joy. Our present circumstances should never dictate whether or not we have true joy. The emotion of Joy comes from inside, where nothing external can touch. Our joy comes from the fact that we are immensely loved by God and the object of all His affections. All of our sins are forgiven, and heaven is our home. We only have a few more remaining years here on earth and then we will finally be home with our Lord, forever. There is nothing that anyone or anything can do to take this Joy from us. Whether we live or die, we do so to the Lord and give Him our very best while we have a few more years to serve Him and make Him known to this world.

The Principle: What we learn from Jesus’ example here is that prayer for difficult people is far more productive than argument or confrontation. For most people, prayer seems to be inaction and ineffective. In the world we live in, people do not respect the power that prayer has to change things far better than personal action. The reality is the there is nothing more powerful or effective as simply getting on our knees before the Lord and praying for the people whom we are having the most problems with.

The Woman At The Well

One of the most irresistible and attractive qualities of Jesus is His heartfelt compassion for the lost. When we examine the manner in which He speaks to people, even the most destitute and hopeless—find great compassion and care. Every word that Jesus speaks—encourages those who hear Him. Like a soothing balm that comforts and heals, Jesus brings relief to the downcast and the brokenhearted.

Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would display His intense compassion for people, with great tenderness.

This compassion is best illustrated by the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. As a result of her encounter with the Messiah, this dear woman’s life was transformed. After meeting Jesus, she returned to her village and told everyone: Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?

It appears that there were many people who were saved as a result of her testimony about Jesus. This was not, however, the chief reason why He came to the well. It was simply because Jesus cared, that He visited a woman who needed hope and a new life.

Jesus did not die for the sins of the world so that He could gain a few good out of the many bad. He loved and died for everyone of us, even those He knew would never love Him nor thank Him for the sacrifice that He has made. Jesus did not die for the world as a package deal. He died for each individual person, one at a time, loving each one of us with the same passion and intensity.

Isaiah wrote that the Messiah will show unparalleled compassion for the lost.

A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth. ~Isaiah 42:3

A Story Of Deep Compassion

Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” ~ John 4:1-39

There is a great deal more to this story but for the sake of space, the text above is limited in this format. You can go back and read about this encounter in John, chapter 4.

The fourth chapter of the Book of John is dedicated to the power that Jesus has to transform a human life, any life. We can tell that this story is important, because the Holy Spirit devotes over 40 verses to this single encounter. This is the story of a woman whom the world cared nothing for. She had made many poor decisions during her life. She had been used and abused by those whom she had trusted. Her life was broken, and she lived-daily with the ever-present pain of regret and shame.

Knowing all these things, Jesus makes it His priority to meet this woman and take away all of her shame and despair.

A preeminent quality of Jesus is the fact that He always has time for people. His attention is continually upon the poor, the downcast, the lost and the forgotten. Jesus will cease from all other things, just to go and find the one that is lost.

Jesus Wants To Do For Us, What No Other Person Can.

No matter how broken your life is, even if you live every day with the consequences of your imperfect decisions and failures, Jesus can make your life new.

This is the story of The Samaritan Woman, and in just 40 verses, she is going to be A New Creation.

In some ways, this is really a very relevant human interest story, because so many people will be able to see themselves in this woman’s life. She is preoccupied with the details of her life—while ignoring more important eternal issues. We notice that Jesus departs from His disciples, neglects His own personal need for food and takes valuable, precious, time—just to visit this woman; because she is important to Him.

Everything Happens According To God’s Sovereignty

Even the decisions that you make everyday in your life, He already knew what you would do. Because of His advanced knowledge concerning every event, He forms our entire life around His plans for us and works everything together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  ~Romans 8:28

When the day arrives and we finally understand this truth, peace fills our heart; a peace that passes all understanding. No matter what people do, or what happens during our day, when delays take place, or plans get changed by circumstances beyond our control, it doesn’t matter. The Lord is working out every detail of our life according to the counsel of His will—in line with His plans, not ours.

For some people, the thought that God is in total control over our life, is very frightening. It makes the self-sufficient feel as if they have no control over anything. In reality, we do not have any power over the events of our life. The sooner that we realize this fact and accept it as a truth, the easier it will be for us to take the next step: To trust and love God for His magnificent power and His goodness. His will determines the final result of everything, bolstered by His promise that everything will turn out for good if we will love and trust Him.

Jesus had determined before the foundation of the world, the precise moment and location when He would meet this woman to change her life—forever.

So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.  ~John 4: 5

According to Jewish time keeping; 6 a.m. is referred to as “the first hour.” 12 noon would be the sixth hour. This is why the disciples had gone to find food, it was their lunch-time. Instead of Jesus going to eat with the disciples, he waits. This is yet another example of how the Lord will wait—in this case, for us. It is an incredible truth that God often waits for us. Though His plans are sovereign and certain to take place, in everything that He does, He must frequently wait for us to be ready, or in the proper place, for His will to be unfolded.

In this case, Jesus had traveled a great distance and the heat of the sun was extreme. He is hot and thirsty so He uses this situation to open the door of the woman’s heart, He asks her for a drink of water. This would have been quite unusual for this woman, as no Jew would ever ask a Samaritan woman to draw him a cup of water. She knew, that He knew, this fact. This must have caused her great curiosity.

(When Jesus arrived at the well) A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”  ~John 4:7

It seems important to pause here for just a moment. We should consider that Jesus came to earth to complete the salvation of all people. With this in mind, He has a great deal to do and a very short period of time to accomplish all that is required of Him. According to over 400 Old Testament prophecies, Jesus must suffer many things and be crucified. Three days later He must rise from the dead. He must establish His church and instruct His followers in what they will be doing on earth until He returns. Considering the great tasks before Him, Jesus still takes time to meet with one woman—whom the world considers, insignificant. Herein is the point: No one in Jesus’ estimation is insignificant. Every person is important to Him, and He proves this point by meeting with this one woman at the well, in the midst of completing our great salvation.

The Lord’s Timing Is Always Perfect

Notice how Jesus arrives at the well precisely at the right moment. He apparently knew ahead of time when this woman would be here to draw water. This illustrates the Lord’s ability to control every situation and pierce the linear realm of time at any point that He chooses. Jesus has knowledge of every future event and He knows precisely what is going to take place, long before these events transpire.

It was a tradition of this time that young women would go each day to draw water for their families from the local well. What is unusual about this story, is the time of day in which this woman has chosen to go to the well. Most of the women of the village would come together in a group, usually earlier in the morning while it was still cool. The fact that this woman arrives alone, and at noon, indicates a great deal, regarding her life. We learn later that she had been married five times and the man with whom she is currently living with, is not her husband.[8]

This gives even greater significance to this meeting with Jesus. Not only was this a despised Samaritan whom most Jews would never have contact with, she was someone who was likely scorned and avoided by her own people. Knowing her lifestyle, the women of her village would not befriend her and no man of good reputation would ever be seen alone with her.

This tells us a great deal about Jesus and how He feels about people whom the world has no use for.

Jesus loves those whom the world has cast off as undesirable. He has special compassion for the lost and He cares for those who have ruined their lives and live in open shame. This is a very tender story of a woman whom God searches out specifically because of who she is and what her life has become.

Jesus told His disciples that He must go through Samaria.[9] He had made an appointment with this woman—before time began, and nothing was going to prevent Him from keeping this meeting. The fact that you and I are discussing what happened here, nearly 2,000 years after this meeting took place, tells us the significance of these events.

If you have ever felt as though your mistakes and sins have ruined your life and there is very little hope that you could find happiness again, the Lord is also searching for you today. He would like a private meeting with you so that He can tell you how greatly you are loved. Perhaps your family has abandoned you, and you have very few remaining friends. Consider this meeting between Jesus and the woman as a message, communicated to you—through time. The Lord is also interested in helping you with your life, if you will only give Him the opportunity.

You are greatly loved by God; He sent His Son specifically for people just like you. Perhaps you can relate to this dear woman from your own experiences in life. Maybe you can understand how she feels because you have felt some of the same emotions yourself. Just knowing that someone understands and would take the time to tell us that they care, makes a world of difference.

The Principle: Sometimes we are looking at people the wrong way. Perhaps the reason that this person is so harsh with you is because all of their life they have been treated harshly by other people. Perhaps you could offer a little kindness and compassion to someone you know. Is there a person you have observed recently who lives as an outcast from others? Your tender act of kindness in reaching out to someone who feels all alone, could dramatically change their life. Jesus took time with difficult people; to love them and show them that someone cares. You have more power within yourself to affect the lives of people, than you realize. Get your eyes off of yourself and your circumstances and notice the people God places in your life. A little kindness, love, and understanding can go a long way in changing a life forever—not to mention the effect it will have upon your heart.

[1] Exodus 3:14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”
[2] Maimonides in “Sanhedrin” IV p.2
[3] Mendelsohn in “Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews” p.133
[4] Ibid
[5] Antiquitates Judaicae 18.95-97 Bond, Caiaphas, p. 86.
[6] Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiae ii: 7
[7] Josephus, Antiquities 18.240–252, War 2.181–183. For the date, see Schürer 352–353 n. 42
[8] John 4:18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband.
[9] John 4:4 …He needed to go through Samaria.

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