Have you ever been insulted by someone who did not realize they were insulting you? I was subbing at LE the other day and a second grader come into the room. The first thing he said to me was, “Mr. Stoner, are you going to teach us everything you know today? Whoa! Did he really say that? Didn’t he know who he is speaking to? Didn’t he know that I have more knowledge in my brain than the average second grader can take in? But to this tot’s credit, he didn’t realize who he was talking to. You see, years ago, I got the highest grade for a second grader than anyone in my class (at least that is what Mrs. Dennison told me).
But maybe I was a little premature with the knowledge stuff. About a week later I was in another class reading to the kids about landforms and about oceans. I asked the class if they could name the different oceans. They proceeded to tell me there is the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and the Southern Ocean. I immediately stopped them and said there is no Southern Ocean, but they insisted. I decided to settle this with a quick trip to Google. Guess what? There is a Southern Ocean. (Did you know that?). I thought about that when I was reading through John 11.
In John 11:45-57 we see the chief priest and the Pharisees call an emergency meeting of the Sanhedrin. Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead and they were worried about the reaction of the people. “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place (the temple) and our nation.” (11:48). But Caiaphas, the high priest that year, spoke words which even he did not realize their significance. “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man dies for the people than that the whole nation perish.” (11:50). Yes, Caiaphas, you were so right. Jesus had to die in order to save the nation, but not in the way that Caiaphas had ever imagined. Without knowing it, Caiaphas was actually exposing the central doctrine of Christianity, the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. While Caiaphas was speaking to those in front of him, God was at work behind the scenes to provide the substitutionary atonement that would eventually provide forgiveness to anyone that sought it.
What about you? Have you ever spoken to someone in a way that you did not intend? First, I think we all agree we are not talking about the second grader. When a child says something like that, we think it’s cute, but when you or I say the exact same thing, we end up apologizing for it. But what about the things that Caiaphas said? He obviously did not realize that what he was saying on a human level, had an eternal profound significance on a spiritual level.
When we speak to people, we need to be aware of the words we use and how we use them. I have often spoken to people, thinking I meant it one way, but later on realized it was taken another way. Today as you go throughout your day, think of what message you are sending people and how those words reflect Jesus Christ. Remember Caiaphas, he spoke out of desperation. Remember the second grader, he spoke out of innocence. Finally, remember Jesus, he spoke out of authority and love.
I grew up having an Advent Calendar. It was a handmade wall hanging with a green gingham Christmas tree...