November 5, 2017

With Friends Like This, Who Needs Enemies?

Luke 20:20-26 (NASB)

So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor. They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But He detected their trickery and said to them, “Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were unable to catch Him in a saying in the presence of the people; and being amazed at His answer, they became silent.

The religious leaders, chief priests, scribes and elders are the “they” who watched Jesus. Their goal was “to catch Him” (in some statement) so that they “could deliver Him” (to the Roman governor) so that they “might execute Him” (capital punishment or Rome imprisonment). These leaders, Jews just like Jesus, were actually Jesus’ enemies. Let’s observe how Jesus handles the attack of His friends/enemies.

  1. Even the best of persons has enemies.
    “He never had an enemy one” is something that couldn’t be said of Jesus, or for that matter, anyone. It’s an axiom that once you stand for something, people will attack you for anything. Typically, when you become identified as a threat to another’s identity, income or influence, you are made an enemy.
    1. Jesus rocked the world of the institutional religious leaders.
      He overturned the money tables and drove out the money changers. People “hung on every word Jesus taught.” The religious leaders felt their influence waning, and they sought to trap Jesus.
    2. Jesus lived His life based on principles, not popularity or power.
      “My house will be called a house of prayer” is the principle. Some liked it; others did not like it. Principles are like anchors. A principle by which you live brings stability in the midst of storms.

  2. The vocal enemy is not the worst enemy.
    The one who declared the loudest his opposition to Jesus was the Gadarene demoniac. Everybody thought (rightly so) that the demoniac was crazy. Crazy people are really never your worst enemies.
    1. The worst enemy is the person who is disloyal.
      The religious enemies of Jesus wanted to “catch Him”, “deliver Him”, and “execute Him.” What they said to Jesus’ face was something totally different to what they said behind His back.
      1. “We know that You speak and teach correctly” (v. 21).
      2. “You are not partial to any” (v. 21).
      3. “You teach the way of God in truth” (v. 21).
      What is spoken face-to-face is a test for the presence of God’s grace. If you are unwilling to say something negative or critical to a person’s face, but declare it behind his back, there is no grace.
    2. The worst enemy is the person who is deliberate.
      They sent out spies (v. 20); they pretended to be righteous (v. 20); they questioned Him (v. 20). Sedition or rebellion in the time of Rome was a capital offense. If Jesus is truly “King of the Jews,” then any indication a seditious leader was encouraging people NOT to pay taxes meant death.
    3. The worst enemy is the person who is dedicated.
      One can tell the viciousness of the wickedness within by the amount of words without.

  3. Respond to enemies the way Jesus responded to His enemies.
    Jesus knew of “their trickery” (v. 22), so you can’t say He was ignorant of their desire to do Him in.
    1. Jesus never took an attack personal.
      He realized that those who were attacking Him were revealing the problems within them, not Him.
    2. Jesus asked questions of His attackers.
      Why is this important? Questions asked by Jesus are not for information. Jesus understood that the only way a people change is to see the issues in their own minds. He asked to expose.
    3. Jesus realized this world is not yet His Kingdom. – Which means you have to be prepared for tribulations. “Do not be unsettled by these trials, for you know they are appointed” (I Thess. 3:3).

You can view the video for this sermon HERE.