He Courageously Upheld Justice
14 Bible prophecy foretold that the Messiah would clarify to the nations “what justice is.” (Matthew 12:18; Isaiah 42:1) Jesus certainly began to do so while here on earth. With great courage, he proved ever just and impartial in his dealings with people. For example, he refused to adopt the unscriptural prejudices and bigotry that were so prevalent in the world around him.
15 When Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar, his disciples were surprised. Why? In those days, the Jews in general detested the Samaritans; this disdain reached back many, many years. (Ezra 4:4) Furthermore, some rabbis held a disparaging view of women. The rabbinic rules, later put into writing, discouraged a man from conversing with a woman; they even suggested that women were unworthy of being taught God’s Law. Samaritan women in particular were viewed as unclean. Jesus ignored such unjust prejudices and openly taught the Samaritan woman (who was living an immoral life), even revealing to her his identity as the Messiah.—John 4:5-27.
16 Have you ever found yourself in company with those who harbor ugly prejudices? Perhaps they joke contemptuously about people of another race or nation, speak disparagingly about members of the opposite sex, or look down on those of a different economic or social status. Followers of Christ do not sympathize with such hateful views, and they work hard to eradicate any trace of prejudice in their own hearts. (Acts 10:34) Each of us needs to cultivate the courage to be just in this regard.
17 Courage also led Jesus to fight for the cleanness of God’s people and for the arrangement for pure worship. Early in his ministry, he entered the temple area in Jerusalem and was appalled to see merchants and money changers operating their businesses there. Filled with righteous indignation, Jesus threw those greedy men and their merchandise out of there. (John 2:13-17) He took similar action later, near the close of his ministry. (Mark 11:15-18) These deeds surely made him some powerful enemies, yet he did not hesitate. Why? From childhood, he called that temple his Father’s house—and he meant it. (Luke 2:49) To pollute the pure worship carried on there was an injustice he could never condone. His zeal gave him the courage to do what was needed.
18 Christ’s followers today likewise care deeply about the cleanness of God’s people and the arrangement for pure worship. If they see that a fellow Christian is involved in serious wrongdoing, they do not simply turn a blind eye. They courageously speak up. (1 Corinthians 1:11) They make sure that the congregation elders are informed. The elders can help those who are spiritually sick and can also take action to preserve the clean standing of Jehovah’s sheep.—James 5:14, 15.
19 Should we conclude, though, that Jesus fought social injustice in the world at large? There certainly were injustices all around him. His homeland was occupied by a foreign power. The Romans oppressed the Jews with a powerful military presence, taxed them heavily, and even interfered with their religious customs. Not surprisingly, many people wanted Jesus to get involved in the politics of his day. (John 6:14, 15) Again, his courage had to come into play.
20 Jesus explained that his Kingdom was no part of the world. By his example, he trained his followers to keep out of the political fights of the day and to focus instead on preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom. (John 17:16; 18:36) He taught a powerful lesson regarding neutrality when the mob came to arrest him. Peter sprang into action, impulsively swinging his sword and injuring a man. It is easy to sympathize with Peter. If ever violence might have seemed justified, it was on that night, when God’s innocent Son was attacked. Yet, Jesus then set the standard for his earthly followers down to this day: “Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:51-54) For Christ’s followers, maintaining such a peaceful stand surely took courage then, as it does today. As a result of their Christian neutrality, God’s people today have a clean record when it comes to the countless modern-day wars, holocausts, riots, and similar acts of violence. That sterling record is one reward for their courage.
14, 15. (a) What is one way in which Jesus made clear “what justice is”? (b) In speaking to a Samaritan woman, what prejudices did Jesus ignore?
16. Why do Christians need the courage to be different when it comes to prejudice?
17. What action did Jesus take in the temple, and why?
18. How may Christians today show courage when it comes to the cleanness of the congregation?
19, 20. (a) What injustices were rampant in Jesus’ day, and what pressure did Jesus face? (b) Why do Christ’s followers refuse to get involved in politics and violence, and what is one reward for their stand?