by Al Benson Jr.
Lots of people end up interpreting much of what Jesus said so that it comes out sounding sort of like an "ooey-gooey" love that opposes no one and nothing and just accepts anything and everything in the name of "love." Although God truly is Love, I don't believe that's really what He had in mind. After all, the Scripture does say "Ye that love the Lord, hate evil: (Psalm 97:10).
Jesus' earthly ministry stirred up intense opposition, most of it from the Jewish religious leaders. A reading of the Gospels will verify that. About a year or so ago, as we did family devotions and were going through the Gospels, I was struck by the fact that most of Jesus' opposition came from the religious leaders of Israel and it was vehement and unstinting in most cases. The Pharisees and Sadducees literally hated Jesus. Guess you couldn't say they displayed much love toward Him. But then, He came to uproot their religious establishment and they quickly realized that. If people started listening to Jesus then there was no longer a need for their religious establishment or for them. They couldn't let that happen.
It has been observed that the world doesn't hate sin, but rather it hates righteousness, whether it be the Jewish world or the Gentile world. Therefore, anyone that is truly faithful will face opposition. In fact, the question might be asked--if everyone loves you and there is never any opposition to what you say or do--why isn't there? Could that mean you are not doing anything?
At the time of Jesus' first coming, it has been noted in Matthew, chapter 10, that Jesus had said Israel was "like sheep without a shepherd." At the time of Jesus' ministry Israel had no faithful shepherds to lead them. One can hardly call the Jewish religious leaders that plotted His death faithful shepherds that would lead Israel in the right direction. In fact, the question ought to be asked just where were they leading Israel?
Pastor Steve Wilkins of Auburn Ave. Presbyterian Church in Monroe, Louisiana has commented on the parables that Jesus spoke to Israel and noted: "We often think parables were intended to make the teachings of the kingdom plain and obvious. But Jesus tells His disciples that He teaches in parables to hide the truth (Matt 13:13). In doing this the prophecy of Isaiah 6 is being fulfilled (Matt 13:14-15). In Isaiah 6 God tells Isaiah that He is calling him to give Israel the opportunity of rejecting His word one last time before He brings judgment upon them. Jesus says that the final fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy is going to be brought to pass through Him. The majority of the people and nearly all the teachers and leaders of Israel are just like the people who heard Isaiah. But this time, a final judgment is coming upon Israel, and will soon come in full force upon them in 70 A.D....When God speaks in parables to Israel, judgment is coming. Thus, it is significant that in the middle of these parables, Matthew quotes Psalm 78 (Matt 13:34-35). God has spoken to Israel so many times and yet they refused to listen. Now, He speaks to them one last time through His Son and He speaks in such a way that unless they are willing to hear and search out the meaning--they will not be able to understand. Jesus teaches in parables for the same reason that Nathan spoke to David--to call Israel to repentance, because judgment is coming."
In Matthew 23:37-38 Jesus says: " O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate."
Jesus gave Israel one last chance at repentance--and they weren't having any--and after that, judgment would come for Israel and her religious system in 70 A.D.
To be continued as the Lord allows.