But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. –Matthew 9:13 (KJV)
“Better watch what you say, they’ll be calling
you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal.” As I reflect
on the words to this popular song from the 1970’s, I have to consider
how accurately it depicts what people thought about Jesus and the good
He was doing in the world.
Jesus’ teachings were radical. Jesus
said in Matthew 5:44, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless
them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them
which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” This is as radical
today as it was in Jesus’ time. Human nature leads us to
love those who love us and hate those who hate us. Jesus’
radical teachings on love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness turn such attitudes
upside down. The grace of God, which functions in us through faith
in Christ, empowers us to be unshackled from the chains of hatred and
vengeance. Such negative forces will only weigh us down.
Jesus Christ frees us from the powers of darkness, which so often hold
The Pharisees accused Jesus of being liberal.
Jesus was not averse to reaching out to people regardless of who they
were, and this was a liberal way of thinking for the time. “And
it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans
and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And
when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth
your Master with publicans and sinners? (Matthew 9:10, 11).”
Jesus went on to remind them that healthy people do not need a doctor,
for only sick people need medical attention. Indeed, if sin is
the sickness, Jesus Christ’s mercy and grace are the cure.
The Pharisees accused Jesus of being fanatical.
How interesting the same people who accused Jesus of being liberal had
also accused Him of being fanatical. The religious leaders of
Jesus’ day, focused as they were on keeping the letter of the
law, forgot the greater issues of mercy, love, grace, and compassion.
On one occasion, Jesus told them they were willing to strain out a gnat,
yet swallow a camel (Matthew 23:23, 24). This earthy illustration
perfectly depicts the problem of self-righteousness. Jesus Christ,
the Son of God, came into the world to save sinners and offer forgiveness.
However, when Jesus did this, the Pharisees accused Him of fanaticism
and blasphemy. “And, behold, they brought to him a man sick
of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto
the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man
blasphemeth (Matthew 9:2, 3).”
The Pharisees accused Jesus of being criminal.
When Jesus broke the Sabbath regulations in favor of meeting human need,
the Pharisees accused Him of being a lawbreaker. “At that time
Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were
an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat. But
when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples
do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day (Matthew 12:1,
2).” Jesus always placed human need over the letter of the law.
Let us always follow Jesus’ example of reaching
out to others in grace and compassion. The love of Jesus will
shine from us when we go and do likewise as Jesus said. Do not
fear being accused of being fanatics or whatever else the world throws
at us, for the Lord is right and His Word will prevail.
God bless you today.