Jesus’ manner toward those who opposed Him revealed His true nature as the Messiah sent from God.


 

“When the Pharisees were outside they began to plot against Him to find a way to destroy Him. Jesus was aware of this.” –Matthew 12:14-15

Jesus is becoming a figure of controversy.  We saw yesterday how He was accused by Pharisees of condoning the breaking of the Sabbath on the part of His disciples.  Far from apologizing, Jesus defended His followers and implied that He Himself was greater than the Law.  Immediately afterwards He went to a synagogue and, in spite of a challenge about healing on the Sabbath, went ahead and cured a physically handicapped man.
At the end of this story, Matthew says, “The Pharisees went out and began to plot against Him, discussing how to destroy Him.”  He was seen as a severe threat to their authority.  And that is where our reading begins today.

Jesus was aware that some of the religious leaders of His time were plotting to destroy Him. We should be clear that Jesus did not go out of His way to confront and attack people.  Still less was His behavior deliberately designed to create trouble for Himself. There are people like that; they go out of their way to make trouble for others and for themselves.  Jesus never behaved in such a way.  He did not want to attack or be attacked by certain people.  He did not deliberately engineer His own sufferings and death; quite the contrary.  So now, as things get hot for Him, He withdraws for a while. When we are rejected, hated, and threatened with murder, we normally turn in on ourselves and become preoccupied with our problems. However, Jesus did just the opposite. He reached out to many people and cured them all. When we’re wounded, we think of being healed. When Jesus was wounded, He healed others.

The mounting confrontation between the Pharisees and Jesus was such a decisive event and crisis. The religious leaders became intolerant of Jesus because of their prejudice. Nothing that Jesus would do or say from this point on would be right in their eyes. They conspired, not simply to oppose Jesus but to eliminate Him. Jesus met this defiance with courage and determination to do His Father’s will. He used the crisis to teach His disciples an important lesson for God’s way to success and victory. The only way to glory in God’s kingdom is through the cross – the cross of suffering and humiliation which Jesus endured for our sake and for our salvation. We, too, are called to take up our cross every day – to die to sin, selfishness, envy, pride, strife, and hatred – and to lay down our lives in humble service and love for one another – just as Jesus did for our sake.

 

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, He did not give in to self-pity. Rather, He kept forgiving those executing Him, promised paradise to the good thief, called Mary to be a mother to His disciples, and commended His Spirit to His Father. Jesus was God-centered, other-centered, and sinner-centered. Even in His agony and pain on Calvary, Jesus was not self-centered. It’s humanly impossible to die to self when you feel as if you’re dying. However, Jesus lives in all those who have given their lives to Him. Jesus will make us Christ-centered rather than self-centered. He will free us from the tyranny of self.

 

 

 

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