I am new in my faith. For so long I had believed that there was more out there something bigger than me but I never truly believed in the Christian God. I believed that Jesus was a real person and that he walked the earth as you and I do now and that he did some incredible things in his life.
Something in me changed. I began to read and study and learn. My eyes and heart were opened and I finally understood things in a different light.
I still read almost every day and work with people to help me understand and grow in my faith. Vicki is one of those people and I am thankful to have her in my life.
In yesterday’s entry, it was mentioned that ‘the Jewish leaders were threatened’ by Jesus and His teaching. Because this is part of the Holy Week story, today we will try to understand why they had such disregard and even hate for Jesus and those who followed Him.
There is comfort in rituals and in maintaining the status quo in most situations. Few of us like drastic change or being shaken from the sameness and routine of our life habits. The Jewish people were no different. For thousands of years their way of life had not changed. They performed religious rituals, worshipped in the same ways, ran the nation of Israel with the same laws and were ‘comfortable’ in their routine. They had control and certainly did not want to loosen their grasp on it.
Jesus came into Judea and immediately began to challenge what He saw as hypocrisy among the Jewish leadership. Their practices had become routine habits producing no real passion or worship. They taught their young to follow in their footsteps. They were filled with pride and believed a cursory obedience to laws made them more righteous than anyone else. Position and education meant everything… and those who had neither one were rendered of no value.
Jesus… born to a humble Jewish virgin and raised in the workshop of His earthly father, Joseph, was insignificant in their eyes…. That is until He began His short ministry in earnest. Jesus knew that the religious leaders put on a great show but were often hypocrites in their real lives. He challenged their manipulation of the laws of God. For example, they conducted their false sense of righteousness in not committing the physical act of adultery; and Jesus told them heart lust was still adultery. They had disdain for the poor woman who gave her last two small coins into the temple treasury; and Jesus commended her for giving all she had.
One day they brought a woman ‘caught in the very act of adultery’ and cast her at Jesus’ feet—hoping He would do something they could accuse Him of—like show her mercy. Jesus knew that Jewish law said both parties to adultery were to be stoned. Hypocrisy permeated the air in that they only brought the woman to Christ. She was merely a tool they could use to accuse Him of breaking either Jewish or Roman law. Jesus distracted them, took their eyes off of her, bent and wrote in the dirt and challenged them. He said simply—“He who is without sin should cast the first stone.” Suddenly they were left shamed and humiliated as they dropped their stones and turned and walked away. Every one of them was led to self-examination and came to the realization that his own sin rendered him unworthy to judge hers. Jesus—in love and not ignoring her sin—told her He didn’t judge her but that she was to go and sin no more.
As you can see, the Jewish leadership was desperate to remove Jesus and His ministry from their midst. He was like a rapidly growing cancer tumor, which was threatening the body of control they held. Throughout His three-year ministry, they constantly watched for grounds to accuse Him in their attempt to cut out the cancer, which was having a great impact in Judea. Their part in the Holy Week story cannot be ignored.
SCRIPTURE: “And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse Him.” Matthew 12:10
You can find Day 1 here in case you missed it.