Jesus tackled many tough topics. On several occasions, the scribes and Pharisees tried to trick Jesus into saying something wrong so that they could take him before the governor for judgment. They were malicious, plotting against him, provoking him, and deliberately asking him questions that would trap him. Yet when they confronted him, Jesus didn’t back down.
One time, Jesus’ conspirators brought to him an adulterous woman, who by law should have been stoned. They asked his opinion about what to do with her, hoping to bring charges against him for his response. Instead of condemning the woman, Jesus forgave her and challenged her accusers to think about their own sin (John 8:1–11).
Another night, Jesus had dinner at a Pharisee’s house. A woman arrived, washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, and anointed them with expensive oil. Some of the dinner guests became angry because Jesus didn’t stop the woman, who was a sinner; but instead of condemning her, Jesus forgave her and accepted her act of worship (Luke 7:36–50).
Another tough issue Jesus tackled was the controversy over his own identity. Believing that only God can forgive sins, the scribes challenged Jesus’ authority to heal and to forgive (Matthew 9:2–8). When Jesus was taken before the religious authorities, the high priest asked if he was God’s Son. Confronted, Jesus stood his ground. He refused to be intimidated, even when facing certain death (Matthew 26:57–68).
Although Jesus was the Son of God and was able to work miracles, he remained humble, giving all the glory to God. He made time for children when the disciples tried to keep them away (Mark 10:13–16). He mingled with crowds of people, letting them touch him and speak with him (Mark 5:24–34). Instead of entering Jerusalem on a stately horse, Jesus rode a humble donkey (Matthew 21:1–11). Even after he was condemned to death, as he hung on the cross, Jesus could have called for a host of angels to save him; but he didn’t. Instead, he claimed that he had come into the world for just this purpose (John 18:33–38, 19:8–16).
Living for God
Jesus went against the norm and lived totally for God. He healed people on the Sabbath, a day on which, according to the law, no work should be done. He ate and drank with sinners; he exposed the hearts of those who were religious but had no real relationship with God. He tackled sickness and death by healing the sick and raising the dead. Even his disciples questioned him, but Jesus’ only aim was to please God.
Facing adversaries is always a challenge. Jesus could stand with boldness and confidence because of his intimate relationship with God. Because Jesus withdrew to pray and to spend time alone in God’s presence, he was filled with the strength to face his enemies. When we deal with tough topics, we can remember Jesus’ example. By spending time with God, we too can learn to ground our thoughts and actions in firm beliefs and receive strength to speak and act boldly.
Consider a time when you took or failed to take a stand on a tough topic. Were you trying to please God or the crowd? Meditate on Luke 12:11–12. How can these verses encourage you the next time you face a tough situation?
—from devozine (March/April 2011). Copyright © 2011 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.