From the very beginning, Jesus’ life was under threat. The mere fact of his birth brought Herod’s paranoia to a murderous pitch, and all through his public ministry, the ostentatiously righteous sought to place him under charge.
As believing people, we struggle with, if nothing else, the sheer arrogance and effrontery of the scribes and the chief priests. We can’t believe how blind they were to the presence of the Lord – so much so, in fact, that they even sought to judge his conduct!
In Luke 19: 9 – 18, Jesus tells the parable of the wicked tenants, which his detractors recognised immediately as being ‘told against them’.
Their reaction reminds me very much of our own modern-day unbelievers. They say that they reject Christianity, that they do not believe in God . . . yet they are offended by him and his teaching. Do not tell an atheist that he’s at risk of hell, or that he is guilty of sin because you may hurt his feelings.
And how do unbelievers deal with this? Well, remarkably similarly to the way we see the scribes and the priests reacting in this passage. They work in secret, insidiously trying to trip Christians up by accusing them of hate speech and ‘isms’ of various kinds. While they may say ‘tolerance’ in public, in private they act against any such thing.
Sadly, this chapter reveals something else that is a factor in our time too. We find it at verse 19, when we learn that the only thing restraining the scribes and chief priests is that ‘they feared the people’.
No respect for God incarnate, but fear of the world. Think on that: what blindness, what stupidity to be in the presence of Christ and feel only enmity. To wish him restrained, arrested, silenced, killed.
And for nothing to stay your hand but fear of people.
If it sounds familiar, there is a good reason. Our generation despises God and has placed an idol on his throne: public opinion.
Public opinion will not be long suffering, nor slow to wrath. Public opinion will not look on us with mercy when we offend it.
Yet, it seems we have made our choice.