Addressing Opposition

It is interesting to observe the opposition rising against Jesus. As the crowds increasingly came to the conclusion that Jesus was the long expected Son of David, their Messiah, the Pharisees became more radical in their opposition. Since Jesus demonstrated that he had power and authority over the demonic spirits, the Pharisees literally demonized Jesus by declaring that he did so by the power of Beelzebub, which was one of the names for Satan. Of course, Jesus easily refuted such a claim, by demonstrating that no kingdom or household that was divided against itself could long survive. In other words, if Satan were casting out Satan, his own kingdom would fall. Jesus even went further to show the absurdity of their claim, because some of the Pharisees own also cast out demons from individuals. Did their own also cast out demons by the power of Satan? Of course they would not make that assertion. So, the authority that Jesus possessed was also being demonstrated by some of the Pharisees themselves. They couldn’t have it both ways. Jesus pointed out that rather than Satan casting out Satan they were witnessing a demonstration of the advance of God’s kingdom.

The deeper question was why the Pharisees were in such opposition to Jesus. There could be many reasons for their opposing Jesus, but we see that Jesus challenged their belief system. He demonstrated their own failures and mistakes, which for those who have obtained some measure of status and power can be quite irritating. The fact that Jesus was right and could clearly demonstrate it became beside the point. The Pharisees entered into a mission to maintain their own positions of status and power as teachers and guides of the people. Jesus challenged their role in society and so they reacted against him.

In their opposition against Jesus, the Pharisees demonstrated their own hypocrisy. This is what can happen when we become so attached to our own position that we become blinded to the valid points someone from an opposing view makes. Since we cannot refute their position, we resort to attacking their character and the character of those who align themselves with them. Such opposition also blinds us to the hypocrisy of our own position when we condemn others, while we may practice something very similar to what we are condemning in others. We see such behavior in many areas of our society: in politics, in religion, in any area where people hold strong opinions. We see it when people raise their own opinion or position over the importance and value of relationship with others, even those who disagree with us. On another occasion, Jesus pointed out that we should address our own issues before trying to correct someone else. Like the Pharisees, our desire to be proven correct can drive us to making absurd statements, which are really lies, that we cannot back up. So we become louder and more energetic in our opposition. Eventually the absurdity of what we have said and done comes to light to our own regret. This is why Jesus’ instruction to us to be very cautious in our condemnation of others is so powerful and practical to us.

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