When I write about Jesus, I always caution myself because there are so many aspects of His work, His character, His presence throughout history, in the scriptures and in real life. I caution myself, because no matter what I write about Him it is only a small subset of who He is and who He can be to you. He is great and His arm is strong and far reaching, He is, simply put “more than amazing!”
As many of you reading this know and already understand, His ministry on Earth was full of Controversy, Compassion and Courage. Let’s take a look!
Controversy in that He challenged the religious leaders of His time and called out their shortcomings and hypocrisy. He could have simply come and patted those guys on the back and reinforced what they were doing and supported them. Unfortunately, Man’s interpretation of what God wanted for His people had strayed too far from God’s heart and needed a reset.
Compassion in that He reached beyond the surface and into people’s souls, he understood the plight of those who were outside of religious favor, He gave them a new hope and went out of His way to touch them, despite extreme criticism
Courage in that He knew His assignment and He knew it well. He did not waver, He was steadfast, He stood for truth no matter what the cost. He was here to represent the Father and that was the most important thing to Him. It’s interesting to note that He came to Earth to serve and save mankind, but not to please mankind! His assignment and instructions were from the Father and He wanted to please the Father and only the Father. When God gives you an assignment, remember that your goal is to please Him and not necessarily mankind. This often requires courage, the type that Jesus so wonderfully exhibited.
Matt 23:13-36 is one of the best summaries of Jesus’s disdain for the religious leaders who were in control while He was here on Earth. In this passage of scripture, Jesus hammers the scribes and the Pharisees, He said:
- They shut up the kingdom of heaven against men and themselves
- They devour widow’s houses
- They convert someone and make them twice as much as son of hell as themselves
- They pay tithe and neglect: justice, mercy and faith
- They are full of extortion and self-indulgence
- They put on a phony outward appearances and are dead inside
- They are serpents, a brood of vipers
Jesus saw that a false sense of self-righteousness had permeated the Jewish leaders and they used it to control the people and keep their false sense of power. He then took it upon Himself to break “their” rules stirring controversy, while showing personal courage and compassion for others.
Jesus mingled with and protected sinners from the self-righteous.
- In John 8:3-11 when a woman was caught in adultery, we know the story well, He said “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Eventually they all walked away. “He then said to the woman, your sins are forgiven you, go and sin no more.” Paul writes in Romans 2:4 “the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” What a great example of this! Jesus didn’t say to the woman, I support you go as before, He said, I just saved your life, go and repent!
- In Mark 2:14-17 Jesus was criticized by the scribes and Pharisees for going to the house of Levi, a tax collector. They said “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus replies, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” He was steadfast, He was courageous, He knew His assignment and He knew it well.
- In Luke 18:10-14, Jesus describes a self-righteous religious man vs a tax collector who shows humility before God. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
- In Luke 19:2-10, Jesus reaches out to Zacchaeus, another tax collector and a very rich one at that. Despite huge criticism from the religious leaders, Jesus goes to the house of Zacchaeus where Zacchaeus repents and gives half of his wealth away to the poor and restored four times everything he cheated out of others. In one move, Jesus changed a crooked man’s heart and in so doing, changed the entire community.
Jesus knew that no matter what He did, he would be criticized for it. In Luke 7:33-34 He said, “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” Jesus was shrewd and He spoke directly to those who had strayed from the truth. It was His responsibility to tell them the truth no matter how much it hurt them and drew criticism from them.
We have a responsibility to tell the truth! In Ezekiel 33:7-9 the Lord instructed him to warn the wicked of their sinful ways, if he did not warn them, he would be guilty of their sins! If he warned them and they did not repent, they were guilty. Knowing the truth carries with it a great responsibility, we must bring the truth to others regardless of the cost.
Imagine the courage Jesus had by calling out the religious leaders for their hypocrisy to the point of torture and a gruesome death on the cross. Going against their practices, bringing hope to many, restoring righteousness to His kingdom on Earth and the sending us the Holy Spirit!
I pray that this short teaching would impact your soul for the kingdom and help guide you on your path to Him. He is good and “…He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6