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October 24, 2019

Harsh words. Harsh tone. Laughter. And applause.

 

So many emotions. So many thoughts—ways I want to react—feelings I can’t help feeling.

 

Yet the one who was attacked responded in dignity and selfless love.

How do we respond? How should we respond?

 

As I chew on those thoughts, I have to ask how did Jesus respond to similar attacks?

 

He is the author, editor, and publisher of love. We are His launch team,

 

His platform, His promoters. How do we promote His response?

 

He responds with love, right? But what does love look like?

 

Jesus loves everyone, right? Did He love the bigoted hypocrites—the teachers of the law who loved themselves and their traditions, and found their righteousness in themselves? 

 

Yes. But how?

 

The religious leaders were the one group Jesus loved with unrelenting confrontation. He held them to the standards they pretended to follow and more.

He confronted them by saying, “You’ve heard it said, ‘Don’t sleep with your neighbor’s wife. I’m saying you did it in your mind when you looked at her, undressed her with your eyes, and went to bed with the thoughts of what you’d like to do to her.’”

 

I picture the self-righteous religious elite open-mouthed with wide eyes, flushed cheeks, and burning, hate-filled hearts. He just called them adulterers, sinners. He might as well have said, “Go home.”

 

The writings of His closest followers offer many more examples of Jesus confronting the self-righteous teachers of the law. We need to understand that even though His words were harsh, He still loved those "blind guides" even when He attacked them—even when He exposed them as thieves and drove them out of the temple.

 

How do we know He loved them? First, love is His nature—the nature I long for, but love doesn’t always come naturally for me—especially when someone I deeply respect is wrongly and harshly attacked.

 

Second, consider two of those religious leaders who stood out from the others. Two who saw His love despite the harshness of His confrontation. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. Both of them were members of religious legal council—the religious elite. When the ruling council sat in judgment against Jesus, these two must have felt a mix of fear and conviction.

 

The harsh truth that Jesus burned into their chests melted their hearts. If not for Nicodemus meeting Jesus secretly at night, we may not have the most revered verse in the New Testament. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son that whomever believes in Him will not die but have everlasting life."

 

Joseph of Arimathea is remembered as the religious leader who boldly approached Pontius Pilate and asked permission to bury Jesus's body.

 

Tough love is still love. Harsh words can still be love. But remember, Jesus saved His harsh words exclusively for the self-righteous.

 

When confronted with the woman caught in adultery? Not one harsh word. Why are you dressed like that? No. You look like you're asking for it? No. Go home? No. His love, void of judgment said, "You are home."

 

He reserved His fierce love for those who should have known better—those who pretended to know it all.

 

When I listened to John MacArthur deride Beth Moore and women in general, I imagine Jesus viewing that panel of smug pastors and seeing a brood of vipers, white-washed tombs, blind guides, and His own misguided children.

 

I've never met nor heard from a flawless speaker apart from Jesus. Every other human has said or done something amiss, but I have been richly inspired and motivated by Beth Moore in her speaking, in her books. I've even led and taught from her works.

 

Her book on the life of Christ was the most relational and inspiring I've read on His life. And I used it to teach high school students about our Savior.

 

I do not elevate her, but she elevates Christ as He had predicted when He spoke to that heart-pierced religious leader, Nicodemus. "The Son of Man must be lifted up so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him."

 

Today's spiritual leaders must not be self-righteous thugs. We must not beat each other down or consider ourselves better than others. We must take on the attitude of Jesus who made Himself nothing. He became both servant and sacrifice. 

 

When the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate spoke to the religious leaders, he basically offered them the chance to give a two-word pithy response to the name of Jesus Christ. They didn't say "Go Home." They said, "Crucify Him."

 

When He was lifted up on that Roman electric chair—that rough-hewn wooden cross, the bitter ugliness of his murder became the beautiful light that draws people to Him, for in those horrific hours He took upon Himself every harsh word, every adulterous thought, every "Go home," and the worst that humanity can offer. When He died, all of our misdeeds died with Him.

 

So, when the author, editor, and publisher of love and life looks upon us, He doesn't see bickering children. He doesn't hear our bitter words. He sees the objects of His love, and He calls us home.

 

Dear Jesus,
inspire and empower us
to see one another
through your eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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