In Matthew 23, Jesus lambasted the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees. Rude, in fact, according to the rules of polite conversation. I’d be shocked if someone spoke that way to another human being in public. I’ve never attended a church where this type of language was tolerated. Why was it okay for Jesus to be less than genteel? Because He knew their hearts? Because He’s God and He’s allowed to judge? I’m fascinated that He never spoke this way to the sinner, the downtrodden, the hurting, the repentant. Not even to all rulers or rich people. Only to those who were willfully blind, proud, arrogant, self-centered, and self-righteous.
Who or what would be a modern-day equivalent? A lesbian who is seeking truth and struggling would receive Christ’s compassion, whereas a militant, arrogant, in-your-face preacher would get yelled at.
It still rattles me that Jesus spoke this way (as did John the Baptist). Why? My Momma always taught me, “If you can’t say anything nice about a person, don’t say anything at all!” Jesus broke that rule.
But like an illusion, “Things are not always what they appear to be.” The religious leaders appeared to be white, pure. But inside, they were black. Jesus could see right through their illusion and tell it like it is. They were rotten on the inside.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27-28 NIV)
“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?” (Matthew 23:33 NIV)