Warnings and Exhortations
Jesus had been at a luncheon at a Pharisee’s house. At that event, Jesus had said some rather critical things about the Pharisees. One of the major faults he saw in the Pharisees was hypocrisy. They were like cups and bowls that looked nice on the outside but were filthy on the inside. They were like graves full of dead bodies. Just beneath that impressive surface was a heart filled with greed and wickedness. The Pharisees, scribes, and lawyers didn’t appreciate Jesus’ message to them.
Jesus wanted to warn his disciples and others not to follow the bad example of the Pharisees. While he was at it, he also warned them about a couple of other things. This passage includes a set of warnings and exhortations directed toward Jesus’ disciples.
In verse 1, we find that Jesus is surrounded by “an innumerable multitude of people,” so many in fact that they were virtually standing on top of each other. So this was a crowd of several thousand people. One of the reasons the leaders of the Jews disliked Jesus so much was that he was very popular; he was drawing large crowds of followers who wanted to hear what he had to say. His popularity presented a threat to the leadership of the Jews, especially since Jesus was very critical of those leaders. The crowds were starting to believe him rather than them. So they opposed Jesus all the more.
We may face the same kind of hostility and opposition that Jesus and the disciples experienced. With the revolutionary changes we’ve seen in our country over the past few years, it doesn’t take much imagination to see that Christians will experience real persecution here in the not too distant future. And as we face such hostility, we should keep in mind what Jesus said to his disciples on this occasion.
Let’s look at a set of warnings and exhortations for those who are facing imminent threats.