Summary: We see the context that sets up the reason Jesus was rejected by the Jews. He called for integrity, challenged their authority, claimed to be deity. We then move from the reasons to the purpose - our justification.
Almost 2000 years ago, Jesus asked His followers a question: “Who do you say I am?” It’s still the fundamental question of life. And the answer creates controversy.
It’s one reason why Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ, is so controversial. This is a film that has had the audacity to portray Christ as He really was – not only as an historical figure, but as the Savior of the world.
If you’ve been listening to and reading the reviews you know that many people in the media have a real problem with this movie. Why? One writer has said that the film is “an offense to the postmodern sensibilities of our morally relativistic culture. Indeed, in the savagery of the attacks on Gibson what is coming out of the closet is a visceral hatred of Christianity.”
In other words, to say that Jesus is THE Savior is politically incorrect. Mel Gibson is under attack not because he twisted the biblical story about Jesus but because his film, for the most part, is faithful to the biblical truth. The world wants to say that there are many ways to God – that each and every religion is equally valid. So, we shouldn’t be surprised when the true story of Jesus as depicted on this film creates controversy.
The world likes to present Jesus as a man who went around doing good deeds, healing people, and kissing babies on the head. We’re to respect Him as a wonderful religious figure and as an example. But to say that He’s THE Savior… well, that’s just intolerant.
But the people who want to put Jesus in the great religious leader category have missed a central point. Great religious leaders who do good deeds, heal people, and kiss babies don’t end up executed.
Jesus wasn’t a kind, likable, generous religious figure. He was a revolutionary… with revolutionary ideas, revolutionary dreams, revolutionary expectations, and revolutionary claims. It got Him killed.
If you don’t really understand what caused Jesus to be in so much trouble, then you’ve missed a key point in the message of the Passion of the Christ.
What “crime” did Jesus commit?
Series: The Passion of the Christ: True or false?
Talks in the coming weeks will give the biblical answers to: Did Jesus really suffer that much? Why did Jesus die? Couldn’t there have been another way? How now should we live?
The Passion of the Christ is a film about the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus. It starts with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and shows His betrayal, His trial, His scourging, His walk to Calvary, and His crucifixion. The film is long on the “how,” but not so keen on the “why.” That’s where examining the rest of the story as written in the Bible comes in. This morning, we’re going to look at the context – at what Jesus did to stir up so much controversy that the Jewish religious leaders said He had to die.
What caused Jesus to be in so much trouble with the religious leaders?
His call for integrity
The temple in Jerusalem was a money making machine. The officials sold animals for sacrifice. And jacked up the prices. They also required that you use temple money to buy your sacrifices. And they charged very high fees to exchange Jerusalem currency into Temple currency. The religious leaders had figured out how to make church big business.
Now, what did Jesus think about this?
Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the merchants and their customers. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the stalls of those selling doves. He said, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a place of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!” The blind and the lame came to him, and he healed them there in the Temple. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the little children in the Temple shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.” But they were indignant.
Matthew 21:12-15 (NLT)
You must be men of integrity if you are going to lead people spiritually!
What caused Jesus to be in so much trouble with the religious leaders? His call for integrity…
His challenge to authority
People want to be taught. Before Jesus hit the scene, the Pharisees were seen as the true holy men. How they interpreted the Bible was considered to be true! They had positional authority. And people would listen and follow. But Jesus put things on the bottom shelf for the common man. They flocked to hear Him.
The crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.