Allow me to set the scene:
A man starts making bold claims about himself. Talking BIG game. Maybe not bragging, per se. But certainly not shy either. “I’m the man. Get like me.” People have the natural reaction to such talk. “Says who?! Who do you think you are?! The man replies, “Says my daddy, and I agree with whatever he says I am. According to the rules y’all play by, that’s good enough.”
People hear that, and they’re not convinced. As a matter of fact, they’re kinda mad. Big mad. “I heard about you! Wasn’t yo mama posed to be some kinda virgin? She kept sayin she was a virgin after she had to you too. Her husband was lookin mad goofy. Speakin’ of, who is yo daddy anyway?”
Disrespectful. But the man was ready. “Don’t worry bout it. IYKYK.”
They think they’ve hit a nerve. They file that one away. It’s always good to have a solid diss in your back pocket in a tight situation.
I’m not making that up. It’s pretty much exactly what happens between Jesus and the religious leaders in John 8 (verses 12-19). They called Jesus a bastard. In public.
It doesn’t take long before the Pharisees reap what they’d sowed. Later on in the same chapter (verses 31-47), Jesus talks about those who follow his teachings being set free. Hit dogs start hollering. “What do you mean you’ll set us free! Do you know who our father is?! We’re children of ABRAHAM!” Jesus replies, “No you not. If you was, you wouldn’t be actin’ like this. Abraham wasn’t raggedy and mean spirited like y’all. I’m tryna get folks free and you tryna kill me. You actin’ like ya real daddy.”
Jesus didn’t call them bastards like they did him earlier. He said their father was the devil!!! “You don’t know who my daddy is, but I know who yo daddy is. My daddy said yo daddy ugly and can’t come to his birthday party.”
The Pharisees get MAD mad. Emotional. “Na-uh! We’re not bastards! GOD is our father!” (Seriously, I’m not making this up. I’m barely paraphrasing. Look at John 8:41)
And Jesus, the clapback king, says, “If God was your father, you would’ve recognized me. But you don’t. Because yo daddy is the devil. And that’s why me speakin’ facts right now got you so mad. Can’t none of y’all accuse me of wrong, and you just out here mad. Why? Cuz ya daddy is hater and so are you.”
Y’all… these are actual interactions… from the Bible… between the Son of God and the religious leaders!!!! The Pharisees repeatedly tried to shame and malign Jesus in public, and he would not allow it. I think about this often when I encounter some of the more unlovely religious people who, emboldened by both the distance and openness of online forums, decide to call me everything but a child of God because I believe that social justice is a Biblical issue. I think about it because people often expect me to let these things roll off of my back. After all, the word “pastor” is in all of my social media handles. And a lot of times, I meet those expectations. I’ve been socialized to believe that I have to absorb these blows and keep it moving. Sometimes, that is the wise and prudent thing to do.
But… if we were to throw it back and “WWJD” the situation… we need to entertain the reality that a good old fashioned clapback is in the realm of possibilities. There are occasions when someone maligning your character and God-given identity merits a reply. The idea that the reply needs to satisfy the sensibilities of everyone and their mother’s mother is not a biblical reality.
In trying to discredit Jesus, these religious leaders shamed his mother, they attempted to shame him, and they deliberately crossed several boundaries of neighborly, respectful behavior. The response wasn’t one of turning the other cheek. The situation required Jesus highlighting the fact that these people were not who they were pretending to be.
In 2020, if you dare to follow Jesus’s example of radical love and transformation, you will find yourself at odds with a fair amount of religious and “orthodox” gatekeepers. Many of them will try you publicly with a veneer of civility and righteousness. How you respond is up to you. But as for me? I’ma talk about they daddy.
Allow me to set the scene: