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John F MacArthurIn John MacArthur’s sermon, ‘Jesus: The Divine Truthteller’, used as a commentary source in yesterday’s Forbidden Bible Verses (Luke 6:1-5), he discussed Jesus’s stance towards the Jewish hierarchy.

Was Jesus a unifier? Many would say that He preached love, which is true. But He also preached truth, and He condemned those who had no truck with that.

MacArthur says (emphases mine):

We live in a day when the reigning view is tolerance, isn’t it? And that if you’re a real Christian, you’re going to manifest tolerance. And today when we hear the word “ecumenical, or ecumenism,” which is a word that simply means “getting everybody together,” and the mood of the day is tolerance and ecumenism and let’s find what we have in common and we’ll all get together for the sake of morality and for the sake of righteousness and for the sake of “the Kingdom of God.”

Jesus took the very opposite approach. Jesus didn’t attack the immorality of His society in particular. Obviously He was concerned about sin and He called sinners to repentance. But Jesus attacked the religious establishment because they were the damners of souls because they offered people the false solution, the deceptive lie, the ultimate delusion that God is pleased with you when He’s not. And so He attacked that system. And every time there was a point of conflict He exacerbated it. It was almost as if every time He made a wound, He poured salt in it. It started from the very beginning to be so. The message in chapter 4 recorded that He gave in His own hometown of Nazareth in His own synagogue where He had grown up as a boy that was still attended by family and friends, the message there was that the whole system of Judaism was out of touch with the purposes of God because Jesus said, “I came to fulfill Isaiah 61, I came to the poor, prisoners, blind and oppressed, I didn’t come to the spiritual elite, I didn’t come to the self-righteous, the spiritually proud, the people who are trying to merit righteousness with God and accomplish that by their works. I didn’t come for those people. I came for the poor, prisoners, blind and oppressed, the downcast, the outcast, the people who know they’re spiritually bankrupt and so forth. And in so doing, He so infuriated the self-righteous people sitting in that synagogue who had owned the religion of Judaism, orchestrated by the rabbis and the Pharisees, infuriated them to such a degree that even the synagogue in His own hometown, before the day was over, they tried to kill Him by throwing Him off a cliff. He assaulted that system because that system needed to be assaulted

And it wasn’t just general. It wasn’t that He just spoke in generalities about what was wrong with the system. When He had an occasion to meet with Pharisees or scribes who were the leaders of that system, He confronted them face to face. It was really intolerable for Jesus to attack the system, it was even more intolerable for Him to attack them. But that’s what He did because they were the purveyors of that system.

Why did Jesus do that?Because divine truth was more important than anything else … Divine truth is more important than anything else. And you know why Jesus always escalated the conflict? Because He always spoke the truth. If I ever do end up on Larry King or some other program like that, and somebody says to me, “Will Mormons go to heaven?” I will say, “No.” If they say, “Will the Jews go to heaven? Reject Jesus as Messiah?” I will say “No.” Do I want to start a fight? No. Do I want to be resented? No. Do I want to tell the truth? Yes. That’s the issue.

Jesus didn’t escalate the conflict by being insensitive. He didn’t escalate the conflict by being ungracious. The conflict escalated of itself because He spoke the truth. That’s the issue. And every time there was conflict, instead of trying to relieve the tension, instead of trying to lower the hostility or ease the conflict, He escalated it. He advanced it. He agitated it, increased it by always being absolutely truthful … the gospel is incompatible with error in any form. Is that not so? When the Pharisees come to Jesus and say, “Why are You doing this? This is not according to our law.” He could say, “Oh, we’re really sorry. We didn’t really want to offend you. Maybe we could create an organization called the National Conference on the Gospel and Judaism and we could meet and we could find common ground.” He didn’t do that … There wasn’t any common ground because you had the truth and you had error and there is no common ground. It isn’t that you want to pick a fight for the sake of a fight. It isn’t that you want to be ungracious for the sake of being ungracious. It isn’t that you’re some kind of self-styled Messiah who wants somehow to become a martyr. It’s not that at all, it’s the truth matters more than anything else and if you always say the truth in every situation, the truth will have the effect of exposing everything else as error and people who are in that error aren’t happy about that. That’s the bottom line. And Jesus was compelled by the truth. And when conflict occurred, He went immediately to the truth and took it to another level so that there was this continual escalation of their hostility.

… when Jesus, this Messiah, this man of God chose His official authoritative representatives, we call them the disciples or the apostles, He didn’t choose a Pharisee and He didn’t choose a scribe. In fact He chose a bunch of no-name nobodies from up in Galilee who weren’t even educated, fishermen and of all abominations, a tax collector, and a lot of other common people.

He didn’t say, “You know, I’m coming into Israel to hold some evangelistic crusades and I need to form a committee of folks. I’m going to take some Pharisees, and some Sadducees and some scribes, we’re going to involve them.” Not going to happen…not going to happen. I don’t think they liked that too well. But there was no possibility of an alliance, absolutely impossible. What fellowship has light with…with darkness? What concord has Christ with Satan?

The hierarchy and system worked against Jesus. It works against anyone who tells the Gospel truth. Something to keep in mind the next time we are criticised for supporting Scripture and our denominational beliefs.

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