May 22, 2011 am
THE LIFE OF JESUS (20)
Jesus and His Enemies – 2
In our last lesson we went through the book of Matthew and noted how much He had to deal with His enemies throughout His ministry. He dealt with criticisms, dishonest questions, misconceptions and other things. It started with words of disagreement, then led to criticisms, then dishonest charges fuelled by ungodly attitudes (hatred, arrogance, pride, self-righteousness, etc.). We noted that it intensified as His work developed culminating in their determination to kill Him (which they accomplished, though their efforts failed when He arose). And so did the responses of Jesus both in words and actions.
But now let’s look at the big picture of His dealing with His enemies.
I. Enemies today
a. Our purpose in examining the enemies of Jesus is to learn, as in every other aspect of His life, how to deal with others. Jesus, is our example in all things – 1 Cor. 11:1, 1 Pet. 2:21-23.
b. Sadly, when it comes to enemies, Jesus was not alone. We too face spiritual enemies.
– we live in an ungodly world that is hostile to the pure Christian
life. During the first
century of the church’s existence, as recorded in scripture, much of the
opposition Christians faced was from outside sources – cities where
idolatry was threatened, individuals living immoral and materialistic
lives that didn’t want to be exposed, and governments that opposed the
truth for numerous reasons and ways.
TODAY, we face many of these same enemies living in a world that is trying to drive God (and especially Jesus) out of society.
– what is sad, even today, is that the conduct Jesus faced from His
enemies equate more to enemies within the Lord’s body.
Someone has ungodly attitudes of selfishness, arrogance and a
confrontational spirit doesn’t want to be exposed.
Others espouse false teachings that they have no intention of
letting go of. In either
case, when the preacher, or a brother, points out their concerns – we
can see the process used against Jesus begin to take place.
There is not a worse enemy than a brother who is out to get you – with ungodly attitudes and an agenda.
Phil. 3:18 speaks of there being many who are enemies of the cross of Christ.
In Matt. 10:34-39 Jesus taught that sometimes your enemies will be closer than you think, even your own household. Sadly this is true spiritually at times.
II. How Did Jesus deal with His enemies
Having enemies did not give
Him any pleasure.
Jesus wasn’t looking for trouble. He wanted man to repent. That is why He went to sinners.
- He grieved over Jerusalem -”Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” This was followed by a warning of the destruction that awaited the city. (Luke 19:41-43)
- When He healed the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath, Mark 3:5 records that He “grieved by the hardness of their hearts.”
The truth of the matter is that enemies meant souls were going to be lost.
There are some today, even among preachers, who seem to thrive on looking for and causing trouble with others. They love the adrenaline rush of confrontations and to win debates. They may, with a pious tone, say they only concerned about the truth – but their conduct betrays them.
He did not sin, ever.
Heb. 4:15 points out that He was tempted in all points, yet without sin.
1 John 3:5 says, “and in Him there is no sin.”
John 8:46 records an occasion when He confronted His enemies saying, “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” They didn’t have an honest answer.
The point, that we do not have to sin, in dealing with our enemies.
They may get us angry or outright mistreat us – but we don’t have to sin! (Eph. 4:26)
Rom. 12:14 says, “Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse.”
He handled each incident
He adapted His words and actions to the occasion. BUT, there were principles that we find consistently in His dealings with His enemies.
While this sounds obvious, I want to make a point: We need to be careful in dealing with error. Not everyone is to be treated the same way. With maturity, we need to wisely seek to determine whether one is sincerely in error or an outright hypocrite, or something in between. Because that DOES determine how we will behave. Jude 22-23 tells us to have compassion on some, while others are to be saved with fear, “snatching them out of the fire.”
To the best of my knowledge, in the gospel Jesus responded gently UNLESS the evidence proved otherwise (and not the other way around). Give someone time to repent and prove themselves (Rev. 2:21).
The harshest condemnations in scripture are reserved for those who are intentionally corrupt in their teachings – cf. 2 Pet. 2:1-3, Jude 12-13, cf. Gal. 5:12, etc.
Jesus appealed to scripture
We are familiar with answers to His temptations, saying, “It is written.” (Matt. 4:4-7)
But Jesus appealed to scripture THROUGHOUT His ministry.
Matt. 12:3, when criticized for plucking grain on the Sabbath, He said, “Have you not read…” and proceeded to appeal to the account of David eating the showbread.
Matt. 12:5, “Or have you not read…” and He noted priests did things on the Sabbath and were blameless (such as the 8th day circumcision, etc.)
Matt.19:4, in dealing with divorce, Jesus said, “Have you not read…” and then quoted Gen. 1:27 & 2:24).
Matt. 9:13 & 12:7, “Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (cf. Hos. 6:6).
Like Jesus, we need to become familiar with scriptures and be able to use them to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15) and give a defence for the hope within us (1 Pet. 3:15).
Cf. Titus 1:9 where elders with “sound doctrine” are to be able to convict those who contradict.
He did not avoid the truth,
even when it irritated His enemies –
Matt. 9:1-8 when He healed the paralytic
Matt. 19:1-10 when teaching on M-D-R.
Sometimes, it is when you tell the truth that you generate enemies. Paul said, “Have I become your enemy…?” (Gal. 4:16)
NOTE: That does not mean we should not use “diplomacy” in our discussion (Col. 4:6). But simply that we do not AVOID the truth because there is (or may be) a consequence in telling the truth.
The preacher must never forget this. As Paul told Timothy in 2 Tim. 4:2-3, we are to preach the word “in season and out of season…”
He NEVER compromised the
Word of God.
For Jesus, His coming to this earth was not “a number’s game” where He sought to amass the largest following. He came to preach the truth WITHOUT compromise regardless of whether it was accept by the crowds, or some select group. He had no desire in joining His enemies, even for the sake of peace.
WE can never compromise the truth today either. Far too many, in the religious world, are seeking to appeal to larger crowds and will avoid the “tough” issues and unpopular doctrines of scripture.
When needed, He warned
others of His enemies –
Jesus not only confronted His enemies, He taught about them to His disciples.
Matt. 10:16-20 – His apostles were sent out as sheep in the midst of wolves. A man’s enemies will be those of his own household (10:34-39). We will notice a little more about this in our final point.
There is a time when the enemy needs to be marked (Rom. 16:17). In dealing with the subject of enemies, we find warnings designed to prevent others from being trapped by them. That is one of the responsibilities of a preacher, and elders – to warn.
Acts 20:28-31 – Paul warned the Ephesian elders about wolves entering in their midst. They were to “take heed to yourselves and to all the flock…”
Eph. 4:11-16 describes the function of leaders in the body to equip the saints so that we will not be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting…”
It cannot be emphasized
enough that when Jesus was with His disciples, He taught and responded
to attacks of the enemies.
Our last point noted that Jesus warned His disciples about enemies. But what did He do when His disciples were with Him and enemies confronted Him? Jesus responded – not just to answer the false charges, but often His response was on behalf of His followers.
When Jesus taught harsh parables, He would explain them.
Matt. 23:1-2 – He warned His disciples to follow the truth when taught, but NOT the hypocritical example of the corrupt leaders. His remarks were strong and made a greater impact on His disciples than it did His enemies.
Matt. 15:12, Jesus “offended” the Pharisees, as His disciples observed. Jesus took time to teach a lesson to His disciples on that occasion.
We need to consider our brethren, when we are confronted by enemies of the cross. It is not the time to give in like Peter did as recorded in Gal. 2:11-13. You should NEVER back down to false doctrine! But if your cowardice results in young, impressionable souls being led away – woe unto you!
Finally, He lived so that
there was not cause for legitimate accusations.
His life was an open book. There was no legitimate cause for His enemies to hate Him. And as we read the final days and hours before His death, we see the depths to which His enemies had to SINK to rid themselves of Him. An illegal trial filled with lies, manipulations and corruption of the laws of justice and integrity.
Friends, are you living your life so that whatever charges are made against you, they cannot be based upon violation of God’s word and principles?
1 Pet. 2:11-12 tells us to have our conduct honourable.
1 Pet. 3:16 – when you live with good conduct, those who revile you may be put to shame.
Do we have enemies like
Why or why not? 2 Tim. 3:12 tells us that all who desire to live godly WILL suffer persecutions. While we should not go about seeking afflictions “just because”, is there something to be said about our lack of suffering “for the cause of Christ” because our stand is not firm enough OR we are to vested in the affairs of this life?
1 Thess. 3:4 says, we are appointed to afflictions.
1 Peter. 2:20 tells us that Jesus is our example in such sufferings.
b. Matt. 5:43-48 – love your enemies. In this text we learn how we are to treat our enemies. It is a must and it will make us different from the world.
c. Matt. 10:28 - Jesus teaches us WHY we are not to fear our enemies in this life. Their damage is limited. But that which God can do ought to be a source of REAL fear if we are unprepared. (cf. 2 Thess. 1:8)
d. John 15:18-21 – to His disciples, Jesus said the world would hate us. But we are not alone. It hated Him as we have seen. So take heart in that and stand fast, even against your enemies.