Mark 3:1-6 (AD 28)
You probably need to read these verses a couple of times to even begin to comprehend the level of wickedness of those who hated Jesus.
Some Pharisees were watching him to see if he would heal someone on the Sabbath, which they thought would justify accusing him of being anti-God for breaking the Sabbath commands (that they made up). They weren’t checking to see if he’d fix a cart, or dig a ditch, or start selling things on the Sabbath, they were specifically waiting for a miraculous healing. Doing that, in their minds, would prove he should be killed.
And they got their wish. Jesus performed a healing – flaunted it in their faces in fact, and “Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus” (v.6). Those supporters of Herod, by the way, were implicitly supporters of Rome, which had idolatry at its core. So they thought it was more honouring to God to join with idolaters in a murderous scheme, than it was to support a man who miraculously healed people in God’s name whilst obeying all the commands of the Old Testament.
Most of the enemies of God, and most of the people who hate Christians and what Christians stand for, are not those who think of themselves as evil. We are not confronted by an army of people with ‘I love Satan’ on their battledress. Rather, we are confronted by an anti-God moral crusade that regards our Saviour as wicked, judgemental, elitist, enslaving, wilfully misguided and a danger to his own society.
So it’s worth noting the manner of Jesus’ response. First, what he did: he displayed the love of God with absolute clarity and challenged – without haranguing, entitlement or aggression – the assumptions of his enemies.
And secondly how he felt. His visceral reaction was twofold: anger and great sadness. Anger, because these people were insulting his Father and pushing people away from knowing God. Sadness, because of all the people in front of him who hated the one who wanted nothing more than to save them.
It’s a model for our response. Not that we can manufacture an emotional response, but our attitude to sin, God and people should be such that we hate sin and all that it does. And to love people enough to be deeply saddened when they reject God. That hatred of sin, love for God and love for people should drive us in the way it drove Jesus. To actively work to help people know God, and to take the consequences that come with it.