Jesus reserved His harshest words for religious leaders. (That makes me tremble... You too?)
The religious leaders didn’t believe that Jesus could forgive sin (Mark 2:7). They were ticked off because He ate supper with tax collectors (Mark 2:16). They challenged Him because His disciples didn’t fast enough (Mark 2:18) and because His disciples didn’t follow their rules (Mark 2:24). The religionists accused Jesus of being empowered by “the prince of demons” (Mark 3:22) and they schemed and plotted to “destroy” Him (Mark 3:8).
Matthew records the series of seven times that Jesus declared, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Matthew 23:13, 15, 16, 23, 25, 27, 29).
He called them out! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, and yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These things should have been done without neglecting the others. Blind guides! You strain out a gnat, but gulp down a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside of it may also become clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of impurity. In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:23-28, CSB).
Wow. He doesn’t beat around the bush! He calls a spade a spade!
But not all the heavy-weight preacher-types were bad guys! Nicodemus, a Pharisee, is a great example. He came to Jesus seeking and searching for the truth (John 3:1-21). Another example... a guy named Jairus came to Jesus seeking and searching for hope.
“Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live’ ” (Mark 5:22-23, ESV).
For Jairus, hope was almost gone. His twelve-year-old daughter... his practically-perfect-in-every-way baby girl, was knocking on death’s door. He would have traded places with her. He would have given away his kingdom to make her well. Doctor’s couldn’t help. I’m sure they tried.
So Jairus swallowed his pride and went to Jesus, “imploring earnestly.”
Jesus had no harsh words. Just compassion. Off they went, headed toward the home of Jairus.
Along to way, messengers from Jairus’s home arrived. “Sorry boss! Your daughter is gone! Dead!” And the glimmer of hope was extinguished.
The words of Jesus were, “Don’t be afraid. Only believe.” He still speaks them today. “Don’t be afraid. Only believe” (Mark 5:36, CSB).
He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Little girl, I say to you, get up” (Mark 5:41, CSB). Of course, she did. Marvelously! Miraculously! Once dead. Now alive!
Jesus returned the twelve-year-old to the waiting arms of a religious leader... a daddy whose heart had been broken, and now was “overcome with amazement” (Mark 5:42, ESV).
Has Jesus had that effect on you lately? Try “imploring earnestly.”
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor