(A few years ago, when I had only one child, wasn’t teaching, and had tons of free time, I attempted what now seems impossible to me: write a post a day during Easter week. For some reason, I’m under the delusion that I can achieve said goal again. So, if I fail, please don’t hold it against me!)
We’ve made it to Wednesday of Passion Week…the day that Scripture is mostly silent. Luke tells us Jesus “taught in the temple daily.” We don’t really know what happened this day, so instead of speculating, I figured I’d write on something that struck me when reading yesterday’s accounts of Jesus teaching in the temple.
As I read through the accounts in the Gospels of Jesus’ encounters with the Pharisees, scribes, and rulers in the temple, one thing kept coming back to my mind: Jesus boldly spoke the truth. In front of, and TO men who were intent on “seeking a way to destroy him” (Mk. 11:18), Jesus did not mince words. He called a spade a spade and a hypocrite a hypocrite.
Don’t you love that about Jesus? I do! In the face of intense opposition, Jesus didn’t water down the message. No! He turned it up a notch! After leveling the chief priests with the shot to the kidneys of the parable of the tenants (Mk. 12:1-12), Jesus comes right back with the left hook of the parable of the Wedding Feast (Mt. 22:1-14). In both parables, the religious elite are called out for killing the prophets, missing the Messiah, and being responsible for all the “riff-raff” (i.e., you and me) being invited to dine in the Kingdom! But does He stop there? NO!
Jesus then ramps it up some more with the haymaker of the seven woes to the Scribes and the Pharisees! (Mt. 23:1-36) Jesus gives them such gems as, when they discipled someone, they were making him “twice as much a child of hell” as themselves!! (Mt. 23:15) Let’s just say that that’s not the type of thing you want to throw out there if you’re trying to get in good with the big wigs!
Jesus didn’t pull back, even though it would cost Him His very life. In the face of certain death, Jesus told men what they needed to hear. To men that were literally on the very path to Hell, Jesus didn’t sugarcoat things to make them like Him. He didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear in order to win favor. He spoke the Truth.
I don’t believe Jesus did this to condemn. I believe He did this to wake them up. I believe He acted in the love that He is (1 John 4:8) and diagnosed the problem He clearly saw, but that the chief priests and Pharisees were too sick to recognize. If you have cancer, diagnosis and treatment are the only solution. Jesus spoke the hard word in order to wake them up to their need for healing…their need for Him.
We need this today, people. We need to have the courage, the boldness, the Christ-likeness to tell people that they’re on the wrong path. We need to have the bravery to stand up to dead religion and ritual and say “wake up sleepers!” We need to be willing to be fools for Christ in the eyes of the world in order to share the Truth with them! There must be a holy boldness in us, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to share the Gospel.
And folks, notice Jesus was not calling out the prostitutes and the deadbeats here. He wasn’t Bible-thumping the down and out. He was speaking to the very ones who thought they knew God. He was speaking to the experts in all things Biblical (at the time) and extra-biblical. He was speaking to the leader of the “church”, if you will. He was speaking to us. So before we cast stones, before we point fingers, we need to look at His words to the priests, and examine our own hearts. And then, in humility and boldness (no, they are not opposed), we must go out and boldly proclaim Christ, and Him crucified.