In our modern day caricature of Jesus, he is often viewed as a soft spoken, doting over everyone, kind of hippie teacher guy. When we dig into the Scriptures, we discover that Jesus was simply not that way. He was kind, loving, and compassionate but he was also not afraid to speak truth, challenge the thinking of others, and as we will discover today flat out tell people that they have rejected God.
As we read through Matthew 21-22 today, Jesus shares multiple parable with the Pharisees and scribes about the kingdom of God. He shares these as they have grown more aggressive in challenging Jesus’ teaching and his authority. One particular story demonstrates that Jesus was not afraid to rock the boat. We find this in Matthew 21:33-46 as Jesus tells the Pharisees a parable about the tenants of a vineyard. If you haven’t read this already, go read it now.
As Jesus gets to the end of the parable, he says to those listening, “What should the master do to the tenants who refuse to produce and kill the master’s servants and son? Naturally, they say that the Master should punish them and give the vineyard to other tenants. Then Jesus’ quotes from the Old Testament and reveals that in the parable he was speaking of the Pharisees and scribes.
In essence Jesus tells them, you all are the tenants who you just said needs to be punished harshly. They grow furious and continue to devise ways to hurt Jesus.
But what we see in Jesus is a willingness to call out those who claimed to be the believers in God but did not worship him with their lives. He saved his harshest words for those who called themselves godly but were leading people astray.
As we see Jesus speaking this way, it can sound hard or mean, like it is outside of his character. But it’s not, justice and righteousness are perfectly displayed in Jesus alongside his love. He wasn’t afraid to speak the truth, especially to those that claimed to know the truth of God, because he is a God of truth and grace. Not one over the other.
When we walk through our lives, may we discover Jesus as righteous, loving, gracious, holy, just, and right in all of his ways. Through this may we grow to have more complete picture of who Jesus is. In our own lives, as the Lord leads us, may we not be afraid to speak the truth in way that people need to hear. Some need to see the grace of Jesus, some need to hear the truth of Jesus, both in real ways. In that may we seek Jesus to show us what that looks like in the various relationships and conversations of our lives. As we rock the boats, may we not be afraid and trust the outcomes to Jesus.