Thursday, April 11, 2013

Jesus and His Enemies

Today is day four of our fourteenth week reading the Bible together.  Our scriptures today are:  Judges 1-3; Luke 20; Psalm 16.

Jesus and the Sadducees
In Luke 20, Jesus shows the religious leaders for what they really are.  They have tried to trap him and malign him for so long that he "takes off the gloves," so to speak.  Verse 45 says that his criticism of these hypocrites wasn't a private remark that he made when he was aside with the disciples.  Rather... the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 47 who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation (ESV).”

What caused Jesus to respond like this?  Just take a look at the beginning of the chapter.  In verses 1-20, they questioned Jesus' authority.  Imagine a bunch of religious people who think they know how to tie their shoes, challenging the authority of the Creator who binds the universe together!  There are plenty of people who have no respect for divinely appointed authority.  This is bad enough--but imagine the audacity they had to challenge one who could raise people from the dead and cast out demons with a single word!

Then, in verses 19-26, they tried to trap him into committing political suicide. But Jesus wouldn't play their game.  Instead of answering their questions, he answered questions with questions.  He responded in ways that stumped his opponents.  Verse 26 of The Message puts it this way:  "Try as they might, they couldn’t trap him into saying anything incriminating. His answer caught them off guard and left them speechless."

In verses 27-40, they retaliated by asking him questions that they thought would cause him to commit theological suicide.  If they couldn't get him for treason, they'd get him on blasphemy charges.  But again, Jesus outwitted them.  Honestly, they didn't even believe the premise that was behind their own question, and Jesus called them on it.  

Finally, in verses 41-44 (MSG), Jesus stumped them on purpose, just to shut them up.  He gave them a riddle that they couldn't answer, saying:

Then he put a question to them: “How is it that they say that the Messiah is David’s son? In the Book of Psalms, David clearly says,
God said to my Master,
“Sit here at my right hand
    until I put your enemies under your feet.”
“David here designates the Messiah as ‘my Master’—so how can the Messiah also be his ‘son’?”
The long and the short of it is this:  When Jesus' enemies attacked Him, He wouldn't play their games.  Do you have enemies harassing you?  The truth is, you don't have to spend much time worrying about them.  Instead, focus on those people who are blessing your life.  Psalm 16:3 (ESV) says:
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
    in whom is all my delight.

Thank God for these people.  Be joyful because of them.  Know that because of your relationship with God and with faithful people, you can say...

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being[e] rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure (Ps 16:9 ESV).

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