Does Love Provoke? Or: How to be wrong by being right – Transfiguration Community (Bible Study)

Making evil visible

  1. Making injustice visible.  Jesus provoked many.  Biblical: Healing on the Sabbath, Mark 3:1-6; Cleansing of the temple, John 2:13-end.
  2. Speaking peace, peace, where there is no peace. Jeremiah 6:14. Speaking truth to power – the Quakers, CT Resolve, Charlie Hebdo: the western right of free speech (defend our democratic values). The right to offend. The exhortation of our Prime Minister not to hold back out of fear of reprisal. What is the problem here?
  3. The choices of Jesus. He rejected publicity/celebrity status. temptation in the desert 4:1-11, the Servant in Isaiah 42:1-4 he will not lift up his voice in the streets.

Righteousness as a relational term: not to get it right but to be in right relationship in one’s community; to give oneself for the life of the community; to gain especially the estranged so they can come home.

  • Mark 1:35-38, Luke 7:1-9, Luke 19:1-10, on the night of the arrest – no calling on legions of angels; healing the ear of the high priest’s servant, silence before Herod, engagement with Pilate.

If you have not love…

Freedom and rights.
Being wrong by being right
Being strong – and offending against love!
If we provoke, we are responsible for those whom we provoke.
When love goes, truth also goes. When brothers and sisters die in Nigeria because of my right to offend, then I am no longer right. Then I have become as cruel as the enemies I denounce.
If I get myself arrested but have no love… Love especially for the enemy – that is distinctive for followers of Jesus. ‘If you love only those who love you, who agree with you…’
If I give up my life nut have no love – how am I different from suicide bombers who give up their life for hate.
Suffering can be used in the service of the sarx, as a manipulative tool, to provoke guilt in others, to further one’s own glory. That’s why the early church unanimously rejected self-taught martyrdom as bogus. See also the rabbis’ teaching: if anyone knows about your charity etc. it does not count!


  • John 6: The ma born blind. Healing on a Sabbath. The man is excommunicated. Jesus looks for him and finds him and gives him something that will sustain him now forever.

The Dangers of Being Right

  • older son in the parable of Jesus – Luke 15:11-32
  • gaining the approval of the whole world Mark 8:36 – or those who ‘like me on facebook’ – yet losing one’s true self. Abuse of those who do not live up to my ideals.
  • Matthew 6 They have their reward, your father sees in secret

For freedom Christ has set you free

  • Galatians 5:13 – You have been called to freedom…
  • Romans 14 whole chapter and 15:1-6, your being right forces your weaker fellow believers to go against their conscience and makes them stumble!
  • 1 Corinthians 13 – even if you sacrifice your own life in the cause of right – without love it is nothing.

The Alternative way of Jesus: Solidarity and Identification

Solidarity is not only with the poor and oppressed but also with the oppressors. This is the difference between Jesus and Pharisaism (to separate oneself). We are part of the problem.  Jesus is baptised by John. Why? Go and learn what this means: I want mercy not sacrifice.
CT Resolve: Judge no one.
CT liturgy: Redeeming power released into the world by suffering endured on behalf on the evildoer.