In sixth grade, a new girl moved to town. She was a freckled-faced, redhead and she sat next to me on the first day. There are not too many of us freckled-faced, redheads around. And we tend to stick together. You have to, ya know. That red hair stands out in a crowd and it becomes a beacon for bullies.
She was there not even a week and a few boys in the class started in on her. Finally, I had enough and I told them to leave her alone. They didn’t like that so they started in on me. But I had been there. I had accumulated some status in the class. And I had already established a reputation for not tolerating bullies. So the boys backed off.
In John’s Gospel (chapter 12), Jesus is hanging out with Lazarus and his sisters. Mary breaks open a jar of pure Nard and pours it all over Jesus as an act of adoration. But Judas jumps in. Judas, who seems to be a bully as well as a traitor, gives Mary grief. he harasses her in front of friends, family, and Jesus. And Jesus speaks up for her.
Jesus said, “Leave her alone”!
There have been many times in my life when I have been subject to bullying; as a child, a teen, and an adult. Bullies are not limited to the playground.
Sometimes we confuse bullies with people who disagree with us. Conflict is a normal part of life. We will disagree to varying degrees throughout life. It doesn’t make them our enemy or a bully.
But bullies do exist.
Bullies use power, status, authority, or physical strength to control and manipulate others for personal pleasure, ego, or gain. Judas was a bully. He attempted to berate and intimidate Mary for his own personal financial gain. But Jesus called him out.
I wish more Christians would do this. I wish we would recognize when others are being bullied and we would step up with the words of Jesus. Instead, some Christians use the words of Jesus to control, manipulate, and bully others.
Any time we use the power and authority of Jesus to control and manipulate others, we are at risk of that power turning on us. Judas found out the hard way when the Sanhedrin turned on him.
Today, we might ask ourselves if there’s someone who needs us to say, “leave them alone”. And, perhaps, you’re the one being bullied. Then take heart! Jesus overcame the bullies of the world when we stepped out of the tomb!
Wake up, sleepyhead! We have work to do. Be a voice for others today.