We as American citizens would do well to learn from the life and actions of Jesus as he dealt with the wickedness that permeated the religious and government leaders of his day.
When our president so arrogantly portrayed the problems of his administration as phony scandals devised by his opposition, I could not help but to be reminded of what Jesus said to his disciples regarding the leaders of his day.
In Mark 8:15, "And he charged them, saying, 'Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.'" Obviously this is a reference to both the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman government's leaders. Leaven in scripture always refers to sin. Jesus is warning his disciples to beware of the sin and wickedness of both leaders. Jesus frequently confronted and called down the leaders of his day for their sin. Pastor, how often do you call down the leaders of our day for their sin?
Position demands responsibility. As Christ entered Jerusalem a week before his crucifixion the people, whom Christ had ministered to with great compassion, cried out, "Hosanna to the Son of David, Hosanna to the highest." The entire city was moved by the entrance of Jesus.
This brought great anger to the Jewish leaders and great fear to the Roman leaders. Scripture reveals (Matthew 2: 1-6; John 12: 42, 43) that these leaders knew who Jesus was. They knew he had fulfilled the prophecies of old. However, due to the hardness of their heart, and their fear of losing their position and power, they would not acknowledge and accept him. By the end of this week, they had turned the hearts of the people against Christ and these same people now cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him."
When you follow the actions of Jesus through the week leading up to his crucifixion, you find that he purposely confronted those in authority. In fact, the first thing he did upon entering Jerusalem that day was to go to the Temple and once again run off the money changers as he had done early on in his ministry. This without a doubt angered the Jewish leaders as this was a moneymaking arrangement that brought great profit to the temple, which is where they received their paycheck.
The governor, the king and other Roman officials did not want the Jews stirred up and most certainly did not want to lose the taxes they collected from this ongoing temple business, so they too were angered by Jesus' actions.
Throughout the week leading up to his crucifixion he was confronted numerous times by those leaders who wanted him out of their way. The Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Herodians, and the lawyers (Matthew 22; 16, 23, 34, 35, 41) all attempted to "entangle him in his talk (v. 15)" so as to have a reason to bring him to trial and ultimately to put him to death. Jesus made no qualms about calling them serpents and vipers and pronouncing "woe" and destruction upon them (Matthew 23).
Even though he knew this would ultimately lead him to be brought to trial by the Jews and the Romans, he spoke boldly to the wickedness of their leadership. Pastors, do you speak with the same boldness from your pulpit and in your community today?
As Jesus purposely confronted these leaders, the scripture says that the people "were astonished at his doctrine (Matthew 22: 33)." Jesus had great compassion for the people, as was obvious by the miracles he performed and the message of salvation he proclaimed throughout his ministry. However, we find that the people for the most part rejected his invitation to salvation (Matthew 23: 37).
Jesus is brought before the Roman governor, Pilate, and "the chief priest and the elders persuade the multitude (Matthew 27:20- 23)" to cry out for his crucifixion. His confrontation with both the religious and Roman leaders of his day brought the ultimate end for which he came, to die for our sins. Can we not with the same boldness confront those of our day who stand contrary to God's word?