Part III, in the blog series, will demonstrate the first two steps in the scapegoating process. Remember, scapegoating requires the passage of time. The voice of temporal time, ever present in the human mind, plays a significant role in the process. It is a lesser spiritual government that manipulates the process by escalating emotional, psychological, and spiritual discomfort, as minutes, hours, days, or months pass by.
To demonstrate the first two steps in the scapegoating process, I will follow Jesus’ actions, recorded in John’s gospel. In this way, we can see Jesus playing right into hands of those, who would eventually finger him, as their scapegoat.
Step #1: Time is used to identify and accuse the victim.
When Jesus asked the lame man, whom he had just cured, to pick up his mat and walk, he involved the man in his intentional violation of Sabbath Day laws. Without question, the man obeyed Jesus’ eternal government. He innocently participated in Jesus’ disobedience of the lesser government of temporal time. He was so overjoyed at his ability to walk, that the man gave no thought to Jesus’ violation of a strictly enforced religious rule.
“Now that day was a Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is unlawful for you to carry your mat.” But he answered them, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’” John 5:9-11.
Jesus knew that the man would be questioned for breaking the law. He also knew the man would say, “The one who healed me, he told me to take up my mat and walk.” His words replayed the role of Adam in Genesis 3. “The woman you put me with, she gave me the fruit and I ate.”
Do you see the correlation?
The response of both Adam, and the man with the mat, reveals the desire to blame someone else, rather than accept ownership of one’s actions. “Don’t punish me. I only did what I was told to do by someone else. Punish that person.”
Jesus counted on this predictable behavior!
However, Jesus didn’t stick around to observe the questioning. He disappeared into a crowd of people, amid the five porticoes of the Bethesda pool, where the Sabbath day healing took place. His disappearance allowed the 24-hour clock to stir up irritation, in the minds of the religious leaders. When the man could not immediately point to Jesus, the religious authorities were given the gift of time to fuss, and fume among themselves.
They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had disappeared in the crowd that was there. Later Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well! Do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. Therefore, the Jews started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the Sabbath, John 5:12-16.
When Jesus finally revealed himself to the man, he asked him to refrain from breaking the Sabbath law again. He wanted no further harm to come to him. He protected the man, knowing full well that he would go to the authorities, and identify Jesus as the one who told him to violate the calendar. Mission accomplished. Jesus was fingered. A scapegoat was identified.
But, Jesus wasn’t the problem. A scapegoat is almost never the problem!
The real problem, according to Jesus, was the idolatrous worship of a calendar. The Jewish leaders were deceived by their own blindness. They couldn’t see what time had done within their own minds. They were enforcing laws, as if by the authority of God’s eternal voice, when in truth, they were merely jumping up and down, to the rhythm of the lesser government of temporal time.
They were bowing down to the clock inside their heads. They had become more concerned about obeying their temporal system of domination, than rejoicing with a lame man, who had just been made well. The eternal love of God stood right in front of them! Yet, all they could see, was a man carrying his mat on a day when the calendar said, no one should work. By exploiting the 24-hour clock, Jesus exposed the deceptive nature of humanity’s timekeeping images. A singular act of disobedience fingered him as a troublemaker. He was assumed guilty of disobeying God’s law, but in truth, he was guilty of disobeying satan’s authority, which was alive and well in the minds of the religious leaders.
Step #2: Time is used to assemble more accusers.
At this stage in the scapegoat mechanism, information must spread like wildfire from one itchy ear, to another. The passing of inflammatory accusations requires time, in order to validate accusations being made against the targeted scapegoat. Jesus knew this. Thus, Jesus intentionally avoided people seeking an opportunity to kill him. His hour had not yet come! So, Jesus continued to play with the clock. Only the passage of time could increase the number of angry people! After all, the single murder of an individual troublemaker, would be too easy to sweep under the proverbial rug. Jesus’ death had to be one for the history books!
After this, Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him. Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; for no one, who wants to be widely known, acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” (For not even his brothers believed in him) John 7:1-5.
According to John’s gospel, Jesus’ brothers were not yet convinced of the works of Jesus. They didn’t understand why Jesus did not want to make himself more widely known. Why was he not seeking the fame, and recognition, that the world’s system could provide? All he needed to do was acquiesce to the lesser spiritual government, and respond to the desires of a growing number of supporters. But, to his brothers, Jesus said:
“My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it, that its works are evil. Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.” After saying this, he remained in Galilee, John 7:6-9.
Jesus once again made a distinction between his time and his brother’s time. He insinuated that his brothers lived with a different perception of time. They only had the knowledge of one clock to which they were spiritually bound. Its incessant ticking was always present in their minds. They could not fathom a greater government, or a co-existing realm of time. They were unaware that Jesus was not controlled by the world’s time, and he admitted that the world hated him for it. The world hated that he was testifying against it, claiming that its works are evil—another direct blow to the lesser government that hides behind the human clock.
But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly, but as it were in secret. The Jews were looking for him at the festival, and saying, “Where is he?” And there was considerable complaining about him among the crowds. While some were saying, “He is a good man,” others were saying, “No, he is deceiving the crowd.” John 7:10-12.
Expecting to be found at the festival in the company of his brothers, Jesus gave the Jewish leaders additional time to look for him. He gave them time to question other people. “Have you seen Jesus?” This additional gift of time allowed gossip to spread among the crowds, and foster a spirit of division!
The voice of temporal time is not an audible voice. Yet, it speaks to the human conscience through generic statements, such as: “People are talking. What do you believe? Who is telling the truth? Are you with him or against him? What do you think he’s up to? Should we trust our religious leaders? What is their opinion? Whom should we believe?”
Meanwhile, the voice of temporal time remained well hidden behind the face of the sundial. And the passage of time allowed the assembly of more and more accusers.
To continue to the next blog in this series, read “My Hour” Part IV.