While walking down a hall one day in seventh grade, I was suddenly shoved over to the other side of the hallway. I looked over to see what happened. A huge girl was walking away laughing hysterically. I walked to class, shaken. This was the beginning of what I called being picked on. What we call it today is being bullied.
I was very small-framed and very shy at the time. I don’t remember having any friends at school because I changed schools so much. This shoving incident was the first of several episodes with this girl—whose name I didn’t even know. One evening when I was getting ready to get on the bus, she was there. She grabbed my head in her huge hands and proceeded to bang my head up against the bus. Thankfully I was not hurt.
Then one day, she shoved me again in the hallway, but this time I’d had it. I raised my schoolbooks high in the air, preparing to let her have it, when a teacher intervened. Students had circled us hoping to see a fight. We both were sent to the principal’s office, where I found out her name was Janice. The bullying stopped after this, and she never bothered me again. I don’t know what happened to her after that.
I don’t know why Janice felt that it was fun or funny to pick on a kid who was much smaller than her. I just knew it was frightening, and I felt the need to always look over my shoulder. I also went through other situations in elementary school where I was called names.
I forgot about being bullied until bullying started making the headlines in the news a lot more often.
According to statistics from Family First Aid, about 30 percent of teenagers in the U.S. have been involved in bullying, either as a bully or as a victim of bullying. Data suggests that younger teens are particularly at risk. Physical bullying is more common among boys, and teenage girls often favor verbal and emotional bullying. Studies show that people who are abused by their peers are at risk for mental health problems such as low self-esteem, stress, depression, or anxiety. They may also think about suicide more often.
There are four types of bullying:
- Physical, which was the one that I suffered in junior high.
- Verbal, which I suffered in elementary school by being called names.
- Emotional, when you are made to feel alone (for example, if no one will sit with you at lunch or others isolate you by excluding you).
- Cyber bullying, which the newest one often heard about in the news.
If you are being bullied, get help! I don’t recommend fighting back to stop it like I did. However, because I did take action, it was publicly made known and the principal intervened and put a stop to it.
If you are being bullied, here are some ways to get help:
1. Report the bullying to a trusted adult.
If you don’t report threats and assaults, a bully will often become more and more aggressive. In many cases adults can find ways to help with the problem without letting the bully know it was you who reported them.
2. Don’t blame yourself and take it personally; it’s not your fault that someone is being the bully and bullying you.
They are the one with the issue. Always remember that your identity should come from God, not from other people.
3. Walk away from the bully.
Bullies love to control. By your walking away and ignoring them, they lose control of you.
4. Never be alone; make sure you are with someone or a group of people.
The most important thing you can do is to ask God for help. God is there for you! He cares what is happening to you. God is not just your parents’ God, but He is also your God. Peter said, “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
If you are bullying someone else, stop! You can actually push them over the edge and cause them to end their lives. Treat others the way you want to be treated. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
The bottom line is be kind to one another, because life is tough and we all need to be encouraged, not put down! Place your identity not in what others think of you, but what God thinks of you. If we all practice these things, bullying will never come from us nor affect us. And do not be ashamed to get help if you are being bullied. It could save your life! You do not have to go this alone.
Herod the Great
Herod had ruled the province of Judea, which encompassed most of the geographical areas of the former kingdoms of Israel and Judah, for almost 40 years at the time Jesus Christ was born, with secular history and archaeology confirming his reign (Matthew 2:1-3, 7-8).
He was a great builder, initiating construction projects in at least 20 cities or towns in Israel and more than 10 in foreign cities: "Archaeological excavations have uncovered a surprisingly large amount of evidence pertaining to Herod the Great ....an Idumean who, in 41 B.C., was granted provisional rule of Galilee by Mark Antony [the friend of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra´s last lover] .... In 30 B.C. Octavian (Caesar Augustus) affirmed Herod's rule over Judea, Samaria, and Galilee .... Herod remained in power until his death in 4 B.C…." (Archaeology and the New Testament, 1997, p. 91).
But Herod was not just known for his great building, political and military skills, but also for his great cruelty. The Bible records his utter disregard for human life by describing his reaction to the birth of Jesus. When his scheme to identify the newborn Messiah failed (verses 7-8, 12), Herod lashed out with great violence: "Then Herod … sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under [the approximate age of Jesus], according to the time which he had determined from the wise men" (verse 16).
This massacre in Bethlehem was not out of character for Herod, who also had many members of his family put to death: “Herod in his rage over his family rivalries and jealousies put to death the two sons of Mariamne [his wife] (Aristobulus and Alexander), Mariamne herself, and Antipater, another son and once his heir, besides the brother and mother of Mariamne (Aristobulus, Alexandra) and her grandfather John Hyrcanus." (Word Pictures in the New Testament, Bible Explorer Software, 1997).
The New Testament description of Herod the Great is thus confirmed by what historians and archaeologists have found concerning his rulership, building projects, political strength and uncontrollable wrath toward anyone threatening his kingship.
The Census of Caesar Augustus
Luke, a meticulous historian, introduces other famous personages in his account of the birth of Christ. "And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered … So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city" (Luke 2:1-3).
Ancient papyrus census decrees have been found for the years 20, 34, 48, 62 and 104. These show a wide-ranging census normally took place every 14 years, although local counts were, at times, taken more frequently. A papyrus in the British Museum describes a census similar to Luke's account, taken in 104, in which people were ordered to return to their birthplaces: "Gaius Vibius Mazimus, Prefect of Egypt: Seeing that the time has come for the house to house census, it is necessary to compel all those ... to return to their own homes, that they may both carry out the regular order of the census and may also attend diligently to the cultivation of their allotments" (Frederick G. Kenyon, Greek Papyri in the British Museum, 1907, plate 30).
Joseph's Occupation in Nazareth
Joseph was a skilled craftsman who worked not only with wood, but with stone masonry. The usual term translated as "carpenter" in the Bible (Mark 6:3) is from the Greek term ‘tekton’, which has the broader meaning of 'artisan,' referring to a skilled worker who works on hard material such as wood or stone or even horn or ivory. “In Jesus' day construction workers were not as highly specialized as in today's workforce. For example, the tasks performed by carpenters and masons could easily overlap" (Richard A. Batey, Jesus & the Forgotten City: New Light on Sepphoris and the Urban World of Jesus, p. 76).
Although Nazareth was a small village in Galilee of no more than a few hundred inhabitants, Joseph and Jesus likely found steady work in the city of Sepphoris four miles away, where huge construction projects were transforming the city into a large, regional centre.
Recent archaeological excavations in Sepphoris show it to have been a bustling, prosperous city during the years Jesus grew up in nearby Nazareth. Shirley Jackson Case, professor of New Testament at the University of Chicago, remarks “.... It requires no very daring flight of the imagination to picture the youthful Jesus seeking and finding employment in the neighboring city of Sepphoris. But whether or not he actually labored there, his presence in the city on various occasions can scarcely be doubted..." (Batey, pp. 70-71).
These historical records help us better understand the background of Christ's teachings, which included illustrations drawn not just from farming and animal husbandry, but also construction, rulers and nobility, the theater, government, finance and other aspects of city life.