In the last post, we were talking about declaring truth. There are many ways to do that, some ways are better than others. We can be loving, or we can be abrasive. Some people avoid arguments at all cost. Others relish a good “discussion.” I am more like the second group – probably because I tend to think “on my feet.” I also like to be right. Anyone else like that? However, I’ve had to let go of always wanting to be right and not listening to other viewpoints. That was pride on my part. Everyone thinks their opinion is right; who would stick to a position knowing it was incorrect? Jesus was always right, but never arrogant. But how would Jesus argue, and would He?
Let’s look at some verses in the bible to glean some idea of how Jesus handled disagreements. Can we disagree without being disagreeable?
Jesus was followed by thousands of people. Rich, poor, sinners and the religious. Never do we read about Him walking through the crowds pointing out people’s sins.
“You didn’t pay your tithe.”
“You have been unfaithful to your wife.”
“You cheated people with inaccurate weights in the marketplace.”
That doesn’t mean He was turning a blind eye to sin. It just wasn’t His focus. He came to pay the price for all sins – not to rub our noses in them, but to set us free, to restore us to our Heavenly Father, and to bring His kingdom to earth. He explained that He came for sinners, for those who needed Him. But Jesus took issue with those who thought they were “holier than thou” and didn’t need saving. Jesus, Who really was and is without sin, had no problem eating and drinking with “sinners.” Both Mark and Luke recorded this.
Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32)
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
If we look closely at this interaction, Jesus didn’t go looking for this argument. He was spending time with Matthew and his friends at dinner. It was the religious leaders who took issue with what He was doing. But Jesus didn’t do what was popular and accepted. He did what was loving, showing that He came for everyone, not just the “religious” people.
Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. (Mark 3:1-5)
We don’t know if that man was always in the synagogue on the Sabbath, or if the situation was setup by the rulers. In this encounter, Jesus again acted in love, healing the man. He knew the leaders didn’t understand the love and compassion of His Father, or that He was Lord of the Sabbath. And He healed the man, really ruffling the feathers of the leaders. And the religious leaders? They weren’t rejoicing for the man’s healing; they were only concerned that Jesus broke the rules. Again, He didn’t go looking for a fight; He chose to do what Father God wanted despite opposition.
By now you are probably remembering one “violent” disagreement He had with the temple leaders when he overturned the money changers’ tables in the temple.
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So, he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (John 2:13-17)
Did Jesus go looking for this confrontation? Maybe. It was “almost time for the Jewish Passover.” People were coming from all over Israel, and probably beyond, to offer their sacrifices at the Temple. This was a time that God wanted His people to remember and celebrate how they had been delivered from slavery. The money changers (with the approval of the temple leaders) were taking full advantage, using God’s requirements to swindle, cheat and profit at the expense of those wanting to present their offerings to God. Just like when Jesus warned not to prevent children from coming to Him, here He found the leaders and money changers putting obstacles between God and His kids. And Jesus wanted none of that! Making a way for God’s children to get to Him was the reason He had come, and nothing and no one would get in His way!
One last example of Jesus confronting the Jewish leaders is found in Matthew. I’m not going to quote every verse, but here are some highlights. Jesus had begun His last week here on earth before His crucifixion. The Jewish leaders had already decided to kill Him. The day after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus went to the Temple.
Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21:23)
Jesus explains using several parables. Then He addresses the chief priests and the elders, and He’s not messing around. We read in Matthew 23…
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. … 5 “Everything they do is done for people to see … 13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! … 16 “Woe to you, blind guides! … 23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! … 27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. … 33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?
So, here are my takeaways. Scripture says,
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak.
- Pray for wise timing.
- Jesus was always loving. He could see people’s hearts, and He knew Father God has good plans for them. (Jeremiah 29:11)
- Jesus didn’t go looking for a fight. He didn’t go looking for the “teachers of the law” to set them straight. But when they came to accuse, to try and trap Him, He wasn’t worried about hurting their feelings. He spoke truth.
- Jesus only did what the Father wanted Him to do, regardless of what people thought. (John 5:19)
- Jesus only said what the Father wanted Him to say. (John 12:49)
- Jesus confronted what people did, not who they were. Even in the “Woe to you, blind guides” confrontation, He was basing His rebukes on what they did or didn’t do, not on who they were.
- Arguing infers a back-and-forth exchange. Remember, we must stand for truth, speak the truth, but it is not our job to convince people of the truth. That is Holy Spirit’s job. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. (John 16:13)
Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
keep watch over the door of my lips.
To subscribe, click here.