The prophet of all prophets, Jesus, had a message that was… well… to say the least… uncomfortable for many of his day. Exactly as James would describe God later, Jesus ‘opposed the proud’ and gave ‘grace to the humble.’
Jesus was well aware that prophets weren’t usually ‘popular’ people. His own home crowd rejected him and when he called them on it (Luke 4:24), they tried to kill Him (4:28-29)! Also, He wept over Jerusalem, recalling how they had killed prophets and stoned others sent to them (Luke 13:33-34).
Religious people had Jesus killed.
He blatantly discounted their ideas, rejected their assumptions and rebuked their practises. Even their evangelism! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” Now you don’t hear that verse at many evangelism meetings, do you!!??
What made Jesus such a rebel?
I think He made such great rebel because He was the ultimate expression of what a prophet was – and prophets stirred up messes. Prophets (Jeremiah, Elijah, Joel, Hosea, Malachi, Ezekiel, Micah, and John the Baptist – who Jesus said was the greatest) told the people of God to get their act together and be the people they are supposed to be.
Let’s take the ‘evangelism’ passage for a great example. Almost all of the 8 ‘woes‘ in Luke 23 are followed by ‘hypocrite‘ or actor, or fake (what would we do to someone who called us fake?). Read the whole passage. Jesus nails them for: not doing what they have others do; showing off; treating gold and sacrifices as more important than the temple or altar; and much more.
Verse 23 provides a nice summary of what His problem was with them. “…you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin (herbs), and have neglected the weightier matters of the law (the law of Moses, or Mosaic Law): justice and mercy and faith.” They had focused on the commandment of tithing so much that they didn’t even want to forget their spices! – but they missed the themes of justice, mercy and faith that run right through the law! Then, using the ‘cup-washing’ analogy, Jesus goes on to say that if you concentrate on these important things first (cleaning the inside of the cup), then the other things will fall into place naturally (the outside will be clean).
What connections can we make for us today from this passage?
Perhaps the prophet Jesus would have a few harsh words for some of us. How would we take them?
Perhaps there are things we do that equate to washing the outside of the cup…
Perhaps we sometimes need to hear harsh words…
Perhaps listening to rebels can be a good idea…