Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Boy, did Jesus ever face this trial/temptation! The minute people connected with the message Jesus was bringing that broke the bands of religion, the religious leaders and those in authority began attacking (reviling and persecuting) Him. John the Baptist called the religious leaders a “generation of vipers”. (Matthew 3:7) Not exactly a complimentary title. Jesus became angry and started flipping tables said the Pharisees had made the temple a “den of thieves”. (Matthew 21:13) I think we would all agree there is a big difference in calling someone “stupid” and saying they “did something stupid.” One lapse in judgement should not label you for life. Jesus was stating what they had done and it was directed at the Sanhedrin as a governing body, not at an individual. The Pharisees, on the other hand, labeled Jesus as a blasphemer. (John 10:30-33) The worst possible thing a person, especially Jesus, could be accused of, for it showed a total contempt for God and His authority. Herod and Rome also got in on the action but the label they hung above Jesus head was at least accurate: Jesus of Nazareth, the KING of the Jews. It was however meant as an act of contempt-libel.
Jesus also dealt with the constant attempts by the religious leaders to catch Him in error of the law by asking “loaded questions”. (Matthew 19:3, Matthew 22:15) Why is it when someone is gaining favor others are so insecure they feel the need to badger with accusations and try to trap them in a web of word choices. (Luke 11:53=54) We see this today in politics ALL the time! The he said, she said, is enough to make a saint blow a fuse or just throw in the towel of defeat. Jesus, on the other hand, because He chose what was prudent, answered with another question or remained silent! Note to self: LEARN TO DO THIS! I love that Jesus used parables to teach and that the Pharisees understood they were the source of the lesson! (Matthew 21:45) The Pharisees also used very “tongue in cheek” flattery as we see in Matthew 22:16-17. The Word makes it clear the goal of the Pharisees throughout His ministry was to destroy Jesus! (Mark 3:6) They even accused Jesus of being of the devil. (Mark 3:22)
These religious pious men were more interested in the Law than the people the law was to serve. They noticed when the disciples failed to wash their hands before eating, when they picked corn on the Sabbath to eat, when a man or woman was healed of disease on the Sabbath, and twisted this same law for their purposes. They pointed out for all to hear how Jesus ate with sinners, talked to prostitutes, and called tax collectors as companions. Sounds familiar doesn’t it. This is why Jesus had to “flip a few tables.” (Mark 2:13-17, Matthew 9:10)
All this “stirring up discord among the people” is an abomination to the Lord. Read Proverbs 6:16-19
These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
17 A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
18 A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
19 A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.
These Pharisees (and I) are guilty of this!
So, yes, Jesus tasted the sting of these verbal attacks in His life just as we do. He, however, did not reciprocate! Track the members of the Sanhedrin (Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes) through the gospels and they leave a trail of evidence strong enough to convict them in a court of Law for slander, name calling, bullying, and lying. And yet, Jesus gave His life for them as well. We know from Scripture two of the Pharisees came to faith in Christ: Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, and Gamaliel : a bit of light in the darkness (Mark 15:43-47. John 3:1-21, Acts 22:3) and some even warned Jesus of Herod’s schemes. (Luke 13:31)
Are you a victim of slander, libel, gossip, bullying, lies, or having your own friends and family turned against you because they believe another over you? You are in very good company in the Savior. May we learn to follow His beautiful example of “shaking the dirt from our shoes” and moving on, ever trusting Him to deal with our accusers in His own time. (Matthew 10:14, Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:17-19) So, rejoice! Great is your reward in heaven!
Father, Forgive us for hurling stones of hurt through our words regardless of the way they were delivered. May we take the admonition of Your Word and be slow to speak and guard our hearts. Lord, we know our hearts are the fountain from which our words flow. May our words be sweet, encouraging, kind, and filled with the Love of Christ. When others speak against us, may we turn the other cheek and drop our own stones. Thank you for Your Word for it proves Jesus was indeed tempted in all ways like we are only He was without sin and His actions can teach us how we too may be without sin.
For Your Holy Spirit we thank You for He guides us into all truth. In Jesus name we make this petition.
Casting Crowns Jesus Friend of Sinners