59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
This verse from John chapter 8 had been a big stumbling block for me: I often wondered why Jesus, the maker of heaven and the Earth had to “hide himself” from those who had taken stones to stone Jesus?
So what led to this incident? Jesus told the Jews that “Abraham rejoiced to see His day” and “that Abraham saw it and was glad!” The verse runs as follows:
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
The trouble is that when we operate on two different references of time we cannot understand certain events. Let us take the example of a tortoise which had seen Charles Darwin in the island of Galapagos and let us further assume that that tortoise did recognise Darwin in AD 1836. Darwin is dead in 2023, but that Lonesome George Tortoise is still alive and remembers the interaction he had with Charles Darwin. Let us assume that that tortoise had, built up a faculty to communicate with human beings and if we met that tortoise and that tortoise were to narrate that he had met one Charles Darwin, would it not be amusing and an impossibility, if we did not know that these tortoises lived 500 years? It is that Time frame reference which was preventing the Jews from accepting what Jesus told them.
The Jews think here is a man in human form, his age is not yet 50 years and he claims that Abraham had seen him and rejoiced to see his day!
The first difficulty is that, for any human being to accept a contemporaneous person as God or even as a Prophet. If we know the history of that person – the origins of a person as humans understand – all the more so!
There were two, nay three sets of people: those who thought Jesus was the son of David and hence a rescuer; the second believed that Jesus was a charlatan who took advantage of the ignorance of the masses; and the third set was simply indifferent to the existence of a human being, who would be considered just a few centuries later by half of humanity as the Christ.
Many were curious onlookers – they just wanted some memories, and they got it. Some though curious got called like Zachhaeus and have found a place in the history of mankind. None could have believed that Jesus was the person who had been seen by Abraham or had seen Abraham! Abraham had lived at least 1500 years before Jesus was born a child in the world. Naturally, the people couldn’t bring themselves to reconcile with such a chronological impossibility.
Would Jesus have wanted them to become murderers of a God, because of their limitations in understanding, which itself was imposed after Noah’s time by the Father by shortening human longevity?
But how to relive them of their bloodthirstiness?
Jesus hid himself – but went through the midst of the very same people who were ready to stone Him.
Just as Elisha led a troop blinded from recognising that they were being led to their enemy’s den but happily walked towards the King’s house blinded; or just as Gehazi’s eyes remained blinded till opened by Elisha, ocular limitations were imposed on the whole crowd, so as not to be able to see Jesus – but Jesus walked through their midst.
I perceive now, that what Jesus did was Fearless Compassion!
The crowd was not unreasonable in their assessment with all their human limitations, but they cannot be held responsible for such thought; but at the same time, their zeal should not be allowed to commit an act for which, had it happened the succeeding generations would consider them to have been a murderous lot.
It was that COMPASSION coupled with FEARLESSNESS which is reflected through this Incident. This Chapter 8 illustrates the COMPASSION OF JESUS, which culminates in that verse from the cross: FATHER FORGIVE THEM FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY ARE DOING!