TAKING THE GLOVES OFF
"Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the front seats in the synagogues, and the respectful greetings in the market places. Woe to you! For you are like concealed tombs, and the people who walk over them are unaware of it." Luke 11:43-44
Have you ever been told that Jesus was always sweet and nice? That He would never say anything harsh to anyone? I had someone tell me that one day years ago. I knew that the person who said this was not too familiar with the Gospels.
To be sure, Jesus was kind and tender and gentle when it came to broken, repentant sinners. The woman caught in adultery in John 8, the prostitute in Luke 7, and Zaccheus in Luke 19 are proof positive of that fact. But when it came to unrepentant, religious phonies, Jesus was as tough as nails and spoke directly and bluntly to them.
In Luke 11, Jesus is having lunch at the home of a certain Pharisee. From the passage, it is obvious that other Pharisees, Scribes and experts in the Mosaic Law (called lawyers) are also at the luncheon. Jesus pulls no punches in His discourse with them. He denounces their white-washed tomb religion (looking good on the outside but rotten on the inside). He tells them repeatedly, "Woe to you!"
To be sure, this was not the Pharisees' favorite sermon. This was not a feel good message... this was an insulting, scathing rebuke (Luke 11:45). After hearing Jesus say these things, they became VERY hostile to Him. Why? Because Jesus had called them on the carpet and exposed their hypocrisy. He knew their hearts were rotten - that they were walking in pride and selfishness and dishonesty and cover up - and He took the gloves off and told them so.
WHY WOULD JESUS DO WHAT HE DID?
Why was Jesus so stern with the Pharisees and religious leaders? Why was He not sweet and wooing and tender in His rebuke? I think for two main reasons:
- As a Warning - The Pharisees were honoring God with their lips while their hearts were far away from Him. God HATES that. That makes God sick to His stomach. If you ever want to experience the anger of God (hopefully you do not), just become a religious phony and see what happens. Start living life as they did - inwardly selfish, proud, mean, rotten, and dishonest... in love with money and respect and power and prestige... while outwardly acting so holy and righteous. That kind of living brings a stern "woe to you" from God.
- As an Example - Far too often, Christians fail to stand up for the truth and call a spade a spade. In our world today, we can get so concerned about being politically correct that we dishonor God in the process. Our call from the Lord is to be faithful to Him and take a stand for Jesus Christ and His Word... even if it offends some people... even if it means we are unpopular... even if it means, as it did for the disciples, that we lose our lives as a result.
There is no telling the impact God's people could make on this world if they got real, got honest and got right with the Lord in their own hearts... and took a strong stand for righteousness and the truth in their own community. Surely we are to speak to people in love, but we are to speak THE TRUTH in love. May we not get these two things separated from one another.
God will bless with a "well done" if we humbly and honestly walk with Him... and stand for Him amidst the onslaught of compromise and political correctness.
From His Heart Ministries can be seen on LightSource.com. This is another opportunity to reach people throughout the world with the love of Christ. Tell your friends and check us out.
Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for almost 20+ years and are blessed with three wonderful girls.
Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast. Click here to become a ministry partner.