Who were the enemies of Jesus? Immediately the scribes and Pharisees come to our minds. Just a superficial reading of the New Testament reveals there were those who were in opposition to Jesus Christ. There were many who spoke against Him. There were those who had nothing good to say about Him. He was charged with being a glutton, winebibber and eats with sinners and publicans. His opposition was openly against Him. Even among His own disciples, Judas, ultimately became an enemy. Also, the Roman government became an enemy. Even His own brethren who did not believe Him to be the Messiah. The question for us is, how does one become an enemy of Christ?
First, we become an enemy of Jesus when we embrace worldliness. Consider morality: “You have heard that it was said of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery’” (Matt. 5:27). Jesus sights the perverted understanding of the religious elite, Pharisees and scribes, and those charged with teaching the law. Clearly this is a part of the law. Then Jesus addresses what we think about, “But I say unto you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). We must also maintain purity of heart. There are overt sinful behaviors and we must avoid them. Yet, Jesus goes beyond that and says that we ought to examine our hearts.
We need to teach about what is right and wrong regarding morality. But, we do an injustice when we do not talk about morality of the heart.
Consider the successful farmer (Lk. 12:13-21). His mistake is that he forgot to make provision for his soul. He was a spiritual being made in the image of God. Jesus’ conclusion is that man does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses (Lk. 12:15). In the parable of the sower Jesus teaches us that the word of God is choked by cares, pleasures of this life. Indeed, the love of richest can affect our thinking and distract us, turning us away from the Lord. Yes, there are overt actions and attitudes that we must avoid to be holy people. But we need also to rid our hearts of those things that would circumvent true faith in God from the will of God.
Second, we become an enemy of Jesus when we are hypocritical. Some of the strongest language of our Lord was spoken against hypocrisy (Matt. 23:13- 15, 23, 25, 27,29). These were seven stinging slaps. Think about what the Pharisees were doing.
For example, the Pharisees were laying heavy burden on the shoulders of other people. Yet, at the same time they would not help these people. They were of no spiritual help to the people they were trying to convert (Matt. 23:4). They were seeking the spiritual spotlight. They were doing this with their prayers (Matt. 23:5). They were not seeking a pure heart. They would not enter the kingdom (Matt. 23:13). They would not allow, by their own perversion, others to be part of the kingdom as well. They were taking advantage of the vulnerable and covering their sins with this pious display of service and devotion unto God (Matt. 23:14). Jesus condemns them.
They destroyed the truth of God. They missed important aspects of God’s law (Matt. 23:23). Though they paid attention to the minor details, they also needed to pay attention to justice, mercy and faithfulness. Their focus was on outward cleanliness. At the same-time they were ignoring the filth of their souls. They claimed superiority over their ancestors. They were saying we are not like our fathers who killed the prophets. Jesus said as My messengers come to you, you will reject them and kill them. Even at this time they were plotting to kill Jesus. Jesus calls them blind guides, fools serpents, brood of vipers (Matt. 23:33). He is trying to get their attention and turn their hearts toward heaven (Matt. 23: 37).
Third, we become an enemy of Jesus when we are greedy. When Jesus comes to Jerusalem He goes to the temple. The question is, “What did He find?” He finds the merchants selling “priest certified” animals for sacrifice. The people would come to Jerusalem to worship and needed animals to sacrifice, but the priests who certify the animals are there too. A priest might say, “That animals does not look just right so you must buy an animal from us.”
Also, the money changers were charging excessive exchange rates. What did Jesus do? He drove out the money changers and said, “It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but, you have made it a ‘den of thieves’” (Lk. 19: 45-46). There were no whispered prayers being heard as Jesus goes to the temple. Only the clinking of coins. Their interest was in extracting from others and gaining for themselves. There was no smell of incense being burned in worship to God. The only thing they could smell was the dung of the cattle.
As a result, the chief priest, scribes and leaders sought to destroy Him (Lk. 19:47-48). They were in opposition to Him. They had become the enemies of God’s Son. Even the family of the high priest had a booth for exchanging coins and selling animals. The corruption reached the religious elite in Jerusalem. No surprise they wanted to destroy Jesus. He stood against their greed.
Finally, who is Jesus’ greatest enemy? The greatest enemy of all is sin. Jesus is the friend of sinners. He wants to save us from sin (Lk.19:10). Sin needs to become our greatest enemy instead of our best friend. Sin depletes our spirituality.
As David reflects on his sin with Bathsheba, he wasted away. His inner most being was undone. He could not silence the pleading of his conscience (Psalms 32). He says ultimately, “I have to do something about this. I am wasting away from within.” That is what sin does to us.
Sin depletes our spiritual vitality. It depletes our spirituality. It is opposed to all God wants us to be as His spiritual people. Sin enslaves and that is why sin must become our worst enemy (Rom. 6:16). We must recognize the power of sin.
Is there help for me? Jesus’ greatest enemy continues to be sin. Our greatest enemy continues to be sin. It is the foil of mankind. Yet, in Christ there is no condemnation (Rom. 8:1, 31, 32). Provision has been made that this great enemy has been defeated for us. Jesus met sin head on.
He answered Satan with, “It is written.” He entered into the house of the strong man and bound him. Seemingly a defeat of Jesus on the cross, yet, in three days He arose from the grave.
So, aren’t we thankful Jesus defeated sin? That finally and ultimately that great enemy we all face will be abolished (1Cor.15:26). The enemies of Jesus must become our enemies. We must stand against those things Jesus stood against. We must stand side by side with Him. Relying on Him and deriving strength and encouragement from Him (1Cor 15:57-58).
by Rickie Jenkins