But we read in the Bible of reactions by various groups of people which were very different. At the very beginning of His public ministry, those in the synagogue of His own home town of Nazareth tried to hurl Him off a cliff. On another occasion when Jesus cast out demons from a man, the people in the surrounding region collectively asked Jesus to go away. Those He fed complained about Him. The religious leaders, the Pharisees and scribes, plotted against Him, and sought to ultimately destroy Him. This finally led to their having Him put to death on a cross as a common criminal by the Roman authorities.
Why were there such negative and even deadly responses to one who did so much good? As it turns out, Jesus himself provided the answer when he said to His disciples, “The world… hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil” (John 7:7). There’s the problem, and it’s still a problem that most people even today have with Jesus as he is presented to us in the Bible.
One example of Jesus exposing sinful behavior was in His confronting the Pharisees with their hypocritical use of tradition. Jesus asked, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’… But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God” – ‘then he need not honor his father or mother’. Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites!” (Matthew 15:3-7). Now tradition in and of itself is not wrong. It has its place, but when it replaces God’s word, or is placed on the same level with God’s written word in the Bible, then man has presumptuously usurped God’s divine authority in giving revelation.
As you can imagine, what Jesus said was not well received by the Pharisees. They outwardly looked very pious in this re-interpretation of God’s command, but their motive in receiving this gift, which should have been used to help one’s parents, was sinful greed, plain and simple. They were lining their own pockets.
No one enjoys having their sinful thoughts, words and deeds exposed. This is because we operate under the misguided idea that we’re fundamentally good people, and when one challenges that mindset, we become offended. But whose standard do we use to judge ourselves to be good? Jesus told the rich ruler that, “No one is good but One, that is, God” (Matthew 19:17). And the Apostle Paul wrote, “There is none righteous, no, not one… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10,23).
As it turns out, the best thing that can happen to someone is to finally realize they’re not good, and in fact are sinners who have offended God. Its then, and only then that someone will recognize that they need a Savior. Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mark 2:17).
Its one thing to admire and accept Jesus for His good deeds, but Jesus also spoke the truth about us. His word is, “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). And often those hidden “thoughts and intents” are sinfully self-serving and proud.
The ancient Israelite King David understood his sinful inclinations, but instead of being offended at being exposed, he prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart… see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). Jesus came to do just that, and then to live, suffer, die and rise again for those exposed sinners who are trusting Him alone for a pardon and everlasting life.