Jesus undoubtedly reserved his hardest criticism and most pointed speech for the Jewish religious leaders of his day, the scribes and Pharisees. Matthew 23 records possibly His strongest attack against them. He calls them “hypocrites” (v. 15), “blind guides” (v. 16), “greedy and self-indulgent” (v. 25) among other things. Harsh! But Jesus is a just a calm, Ghandi type, walking around saying things like “blessed are the peacemakers” and dishing out free fish and bread to thousands of people, right? That is only part of the story of Jesus. The scribes and pharisees were abusing their spiritual authority for their own gain and to boost their own egos. That got Jesus fired up and indignant. On the other hand, He was very patient with the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery, showing them that He is the Messiah and teaching them how to live in light of that. Jesus was kind to those who didn’t know any better and direct with those who should have known better.
Many times in the church today we get Jesus’ example totally backwards. We get all fired up at the sin of those outside the church and completely overlook the hypocrisy in our own lives and in our church leaders. We hold rallies and marches to bust up their parades and hit them between the eyes with the truth of Scripture. All the while, we overlook pastors who don’t even believe in the truth of Scripture, pastors who don’t even believe in Christ’s resurrection, pastors who are preaching the gospel or healing people for a show, or pastors who abuse their wives. I don’t know about you, but that makes me mad. Why would we expect unregenerate sinners to behave like saints? Consider these two statements from the Apostle Paul and the Apostle James:
1) “12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside..” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13)
2) “1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (James 3:1)
I am thankful for His patience with me, but I don’t take lightly the call on my life to be a teacher of His Word.