Why did Jesus hide? Pondering the Gospel of John

“So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.”

Jesus hid? Really? Was Jesus a scaredy cat?

It always amazes me to read Scripture closely and stumble upon certain scenes in the Bible or certain phrases that oddly jump off the page. Surely, I’ve read today’s Gospel from John in years past. But I honestly had never considered the phrase “Jesus hid.”

Why did he hide?

In the Gospel today, Jesus is put to the test and responds by claiming that He is the “I AM” who was with Moses on the mountain. In other words, He is God, a claim not only too hard for his accusers to believe, but also blasphemous. And the punishment for that (along with so many things) was to be stoned to death.

So they picked up stones to throw at him …

Look, if I was Jesus, I might have done something cool like turn the stones into marshmallows or pick up a stick and swat homeruns as the stones came into my strike zone.

No … our mighty Lord and Savior chose instead to hide.

I read this Gospel several times. I let it soak into my brain. I slept on it. But when I woke up, I had nothing. I honestly could not figure out why Jesus felt it was important to hide and then run away.

So I turned to my spiritual “brain trust” … a group of priests and a deacon who have helped me along in my spiritual and theological journey. I sent them my dilemma, and despite the short notice, I got a few answers that I’d like to share.

Many thanks to Father John Hollowell and Deacon Bill Reid, both of whom keep busy here in Indiana.

Why did Jesus hide?

I would say he was hiding because it wasn’t his time to die yet. Christ didn’t just need to die, to fulfill all the prophecies … he had to die in a certain way and in a certain time. These were not the times for his death.

Was he simply avoiding conflict?

Here I’d say no. He certainly didn’t avoid conflict elsewhere (turning over the tables, confronting the Pharisees constantly, calling them a brood of vipers) and of course he didn’t avoid the conflict of the cross.

Was the timing not right to show off any miracles?

We actually read elsewhere in the Gospels that “Jesus could work no miracles there because their Faith was lacking.” Jesus’ ability to work miracles seems to be linked to people’s Faith. Those who would want to stone him would not have much Faith, so it is likely that Jesus wouldn’t have worked a miracle in their presence any way.

What kind of lesson should we take, if any?

The message of Christ brings out anger in some?

Should we hide at times?

Perhaps, if our life is really threatened.

Avoid conflict at times?

Probably not avoiding conflict if it is over the Gospel.

Pick and choose our battles?

Yeah, we should probably do that with those that we love and work with, although avoiding conflict quickly becomes NEVER raising issues of conflict, and that is VERY unhealthy

What does this all mean?

I guess the point is, He knew the will of his Father and acted in accordance with that will. We should do the same. It is difficult for us to truly know the will of God for us — it’s called discernment — and its hard work. But we are called to do that hard work. In the Lord’s Prayer we say “thy will be done.” How often and how hard have we worked to discover what that will is?

And finally … lest you think my little curiosity was pointless, one of my spiritual brain trust members told me this, making me feel a bit better about bugging them.

“It isn’t a passage that is referenced much … so that tells me people usually just gloss over it.  It is usually good to sit particularly with passages that others gloss over because it is an odd statement.

“And odd statements about Christ get us to realize that we don’t REALLY have Christ figured out, despite our desire to box him into a nice little caricature of Himself.”

Well put, Father! And thanks Deacon!

About the Author

Dan McFeely is a Carmel, Indiana, writer, communications business owner, book editor and a former professional journalist at The Indianapolis Star. A "cradle Catholic" who once felt the call to the Priesthood, he is now happily married to his wife, Sue, and enjoys spending time with his three granddaughters (and two cats). For the past decade, Dan has worked as an Adult Faith Formation Minister, currently serving as a spiritual director for the men's and women's Christ Renews His Parish program at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Carmel. He is a graduate of the Ecclesial Lay Ministry program offered by the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana through St. Joseph's College; and has studied theology as a student at Marian University. He previously studied journalism and political science at Indiana University. Currently, Dan loves to read and study the Catholic faith on a daily basis. He is particularly fond of the works of Thomas Merton and modern day scholars and theologians.

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4 Comments

  1. Moral Lesson From Christ’s act of running and hiding: Man of God who is a miracle worker has no that mandate for egoitism; self defence, self esteem and self occupation, rather must let the actual will of God be permissive in his actions and reactions. By hiding God makes you an asset more sort for. Remember “He who runs from fight today runs to fight another day”

  2. Thanks Dan for making us think a bit! The pieces of the puzzle might be confusing to us and where they fit in incongruous, but I’m thinking everything is in God’s time and not always for us to understand! It comes down to pondering those odd and seemingly inconsistent phrases to draw us closer
    and then, that word…trust.

  3. Thanks for you sharing your research on this particular story on Jesus. It was illuminating, and I appreciate your asking questions that are perhaps difficult to answer. I don’t think that The Lord wants us as mindless drones, never questioning the stories in the Bible. I’ve always wondered about the one where Jesus curses the fig tree; I just don’t get it. Maybe it could be the subject of one of your posts. Thanks again.

  4. Believing in Gods timing has helped me,not to worry as much and to understand God will act when the time is right. Easter blessings to all.

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