Mary Kay and I are reading through the gospel of John for our small group soul training. The intent is to read it through an easy translation (The Message) to gain an overall sense of Jesus’ ministry from this Gospel. We aren’t through, but one thing that I realized so far is how Jesus seldom handled conflict the same way twice. John highlights the many conflictual situations Jesus faced and the varied ways he dealt with disagreement.
The TrueWiring Conflict Profile uses five ways of dealing with conflict:
I find Jesus dealing with conflict in each of these five ways in the first few chapters of the Gospel of John. No one way is always right. I would suggest that we all must learn how to resolve conflict in a variety of ways depending on the need.
In John 2.1ff, Jesus’ mother asks him to make water into wine at the wedding at Cana because the reception running out of wine. He tells her no and has good reasons for such. But she is persistent, and he yields to his mom. Notice despite having good reasons for not giving in, his love for her, and compassion for the couple’s family, he capitulates and gives in. Yielding isn’t motivated out of weakness, but by using strength to serve others in love and compassion.
In John 2.13ff, Jesus creates a whip and literally drives the money changers out of the temple. He is condemning them while he is doing so. Notice he doesn’t attempt to “resolve” this issue with them as he does with Nicodemus in the next chapter. He wins, and the money changers lost. Winning isn’t motivated by being in control or being respected, but by what brings honor to God, the Father.
In John 3.1ff, Jesus attempts to resolve the issue of spiritual transformation with Nicodemus, a Pharisee. Notice, Jesus asks questions, uses metaphors, gives answers, and examples, then responds intently after listening. Notice he is truly attempting to resolve this issue of what it means to be born anew. Resolving isn’t motivated by what is fastest, but by what is essential for everyone to agree upon. (Also see John 4.1, 6.27-59, 8.1)
In John 4.43, Jesus compromises when an official in Galilee asks Jesus to come to his home and heal his son. Jesus doesn’t do that, but he meets the official halfway by telling him to go home; his son is healed. Notice he doesn’t do exactly what the man wants but meets his need by compromising. Compromising isn’t motivated by not caring, but by weighing factors like time and importance. (Also see John 7.10)
In John 5.1ff, Jesus heals the man by the pool of Bethesda. When the Pharisees confront the man on this happening on the Sabbath, we are told that Jesus simply got lost in the crowd. Jesus avoids conflict with them at this time. Notice, he wasn’t afraid to do battle with the Pharisees as he continually battles them throughout the gospel. But in this instance, he intentionally found the man later and spoke to him away from the Pharisees. Avoidance isn’t motivated by fear but by other considerations, like this man’s family. (Also see John 6.15, 7.1, 8.59)
We are only through the first eight chapters of John in our current study, and it is amazing how many conflicts in which Jesus finds himself. It is also interesting how he handles each one in a manner to accomplish the Father’s desires. I am continuing to update my list as we are reading through the gospel. I would suggest that you do this as well. You, too, might learn something from the master of conflict, Jesus.