There are many ways that people put Jesus aside. For the atheist Jesus is a myth at best, but usually he is a petty Jewish peasant who said a few interesting things about morality that are outmoded. For many Jesus is distant and irrelevant. A devout Jew from two millennia ago is not as compelling as the business of living each day. Some see Jesus as having authority over a religious component of their lives – a component that requires less and less attention in lives dominated by materialism and consumerism. Jesus’ claim is that he is to be the center of life was put aside by many in his day. However, they did not have compartments for religious and practical matters. They understood better than we do how the supernatural permeates all of life. So when they dismissed Jesus’ authority over their lives they did so with an appeal to the supernatural. If Jesus had supernatural authority it was only because it was given to him by evil forces, not those for good.
However, Jesus uses sound argument to show that what the Pharisees say doesn’t make sense. They do not accept what he says, but he tells them anyway. Why does he waste his breath? Well, we are reading these words years later and our faith is bolstered by seeing the truth in what Jesus says. In other words, we don’t always oppose those who denigrate our faith for their own sake, we reason with them for the sake of onlookers and for those whose faith is shaken by the accusations.
Most of the attacks against Christianity and its beliefs at the popular level are lazy and shallow. However, The Da Vinci Code, Richard Dawkins, and gay activists have leveled accusations against the faith that have gained traction with shallow Christians who are unwilling to think deeply in response to criticism. Our children are growing up in schools that indoctrinate into social constructivism, but many parents send their children off to school without thinking what methods schools are using or why they exist. When someone finds some new ‘missing link’ that disproves faith, or finds some artifact in Israel that discredits the Bible, do we just accept the views of skeptic scholars or do we see the response of faithful thinkers?
Christianity is a faith that grows the mind. Jesus was a thinker and a brilliant man. We are to walk in his ways and develop the mind. How can we love God with all of our mind if we don’t understand its capacity more each day?
God, I am sad when I see people walk away from you for many reasons. I feel challenged by objections to your authority. Give me strength to read and give me faith to believe, that I may be stronger for my doubts. Let me be driven closer to you by efforts to pull me away.
- Why are Pharisees out to discredit Jesus?
- How do they do it?
- In what way does Jesus respond?
- How do people discredit the faith today?
- How do you respond?
14 Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. 15 But some of them said, “By Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” 16 Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.
17 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. 18 If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebul. 19 Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 20 But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
21 “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. 22 But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.
23 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”
27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”
28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”