“Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him” (Mark 3:6).
The Pharisees were not normally murderers.
They were highly religious, faithful keepers of the flame, staunch defenders of orthodoxy, and determined champions of conservatism. If there had been a Tea Party of their day, they were it. They hated modernism, treasured the heroes of their past, and wanted to return the nation to the glory days of centuries past.
But their hatred for Jesus trumped their devotion to God.
Hatred is a toxin, which when introduced into the soft, vulnerable and defenseless soul of mankind, wreaks havoc, destroys everything it touches, and sends its host spiraling ever downward toward the lowest pit of hell. Hatred corrupts and perverts, sabotages and undermines.
Saddest of all is watching good people fall into its grasps and never come up for air.
In Mark 3, we see the Pharisees–they are not identified as such, but we recognize them!–in Capernaum’s synagogue. A man with a deformed hand has been brought in and seated prominently so Jesus could not miss him. One thing they all agreed upon, the compassionate Lord could not overlook the hurting. Even on a Sabbath day, Jesus would heal the man, and then the Pharisees would have caught Him “in the act.” (What we most love about Jesus, His compassionate heart, they used to bait their trap.)
Scripture says, “He looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts” (3:5).
Hatred will do that to a person.
1) Hatred will turn a nice guy into a spiteful person. Hate and love cannot co-exist. The one who hates anyone becomes consumed by his ill-will.
2) Hatred drives you to do evil things. Ordinarily, these religious leaders would have been horrified at the suggestion they could ever take a life or be responsible for ending one. However, this hatred, which would fester for three years, would eventually reach full strength, and become a force to be reckoned with as it empowered the Pharisees to participate in a lynching.
3) Hatred causes you to rationalize the cruelest wickedness and justify your crimes. “It’s better that one die for the entire nation,” the High Priest said (John 11:49). Better that Jesus die than for Rome to get upset over this insipient rebellion and send in an army, he was saying. So what if we have to kill one person? Where is the harm in that? It’s for a good cause.
“Sometimes you do what you have to do” is an expression you will hear from the mouths of these types. And, “Well, consider the alternative. If Rome sends an army in, many thousands will die.” Which is what happened anyway, in the year A.D.70, but that was a full generation in the future.
4) Hatred can produce the strangest alliances. To deal with Jesus, the Pharisees colluded with the hated Herodians, the most liberal and worldly sect of their community. John MacArthur calls them “the secular political party which took its name from Herod Antipas and was strong in its support for Rome.” He says they “opposed the Pharisees on nearly every issue, but were willing to join forces with them because both desperately wanted to destroy Jesus.” Some think the Herodian party was composed mostly of Sadducees and rulers of the temple.
They say politics makes strange bedfellows. Hatred of any kind will achieve the same result.
But let’s not keep dumping on the Pharisees and Herodians. After all….
We are all capable of hate. Every human has the power to completely despise others and to be consumed by that ill-will.
There are sports fans in my homeland, the Deep South, who, while supporting their college football team, literally (as opposed to symbolically or figuratively) hate their opponents. You can hear Alabama or Auburn fans calling into talk shows (like Paul Finebaum’s for one) spewing their venom upon their enemies. There is nothing fun about it. They are loud and cruel, vindictive and ugly. No one seems to enjoy the rivalry; these people are dead serious. And they end up poisoning the well for all their friends and family.
Hatred is a poison. When around it, don your Haz-Mat suit.
I’ve seen parents of a daughter whom they were protecting consumed with anger and hatred over the young man she was determined to date and possibly marry. Their anger turned them into irrational and unreasonable strangers.
Cultists often hate the orthodox, who are only too happy to return the favor.
Want to see hatred in action? Watch these short clips….
–Pilate said to the crowd, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!” Then the governor said, “Why? What evil has He done?” But they only cried out all the more, “Let Him be crucified!” (Matthew 27:22-23) Hatred does not want to be reasoned with.
–And those who passed by (the cross) blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the son of God, come down from the cross!” Likewise, the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.” (Matthew 27:39-42). Hatred in one feeds upon the hate in others, building into a vortex of ill-will.
–When they heard these things (i.e., the preaching of Stephen), they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth…. Then they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord, and they cast him out of the city and stoned him.” (Acts 7:54-58). Hatred is satisfied only when the object of the ill-will is dead.
I venture to say these were good people as a rule, but now doing horrible things under the poisonous power of hate.
Hatred and love cannot co-exist. They are sworn enemies, to the death. We have to choose one or the other. Every day we make that choice.
Where does one find love? How do we get the capacity to overcome the human tendency to hate those with whom we disagree and to “do love” to those who are trying to hurt us? Here is the clue:
“The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).
At salvation, the Holy Spirit arrives in the human soul and brings with Him the love of God. Suddenly, you are loving the very people you previously despised. You and I were saved to love, period. Hate has no place in the believer’s heart.
“For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace….” (Galatians 5:22).
As we grow in Christ, the Spirit within produces what Scripture calls “the fruit of the Spirit,” the nine qualities listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Our love and joy and peace, etc., keep growing and maturing, expanding and enlarging.
Love can always overpower hate. It is much the stronger of the two. But hatred, once we choose that path, will push out the love and smother its voice.
Love is a choice. Love is the believer’s response to evil-doers. Love is something we do….
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who threaten to harm you, and give to those who would take from you what is yours” (paraphrase of Luke 6:27ff.)
That’s the plan: Choose love.
“Well, I can’t make myself love those people!” Sure you can. You can start doing loving things toward them even when you don’t “feel it.”
What loving things? And wouldn’t I be a hypocrite for doing something I’m not feeling?
1) We are to do the four loving acts Jesus commanded in Luke 6:27-38. We are to do good deeds to our enemies, to bless them (say good things to them), pray for them (ask God to do His will in them), and give to them. These are the four most basic acts of love which we do to anyone.
2) If we obey the Lord even when we are not “feeling it,” far from being hypocritical, we are living by faith. When her great-grandson Jon told my mother that he did not “feel like going to church today,” she replied, “Oh, honey. If I only went to church when I felt like it, I would never go.”
The surest way to misery in this life is to order your life by your feelings. Feelings are volatile, undependable, irrational, and dangerous. One of the best things the Lord’s children can do for themselves is to rescue their spiritual lives from bondage to their emotions.
Let us close with these Scriptures….
–“Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
–“In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest. Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother” (I John 3:10).
–“You are of God, little children, and have overcome (the forces of darkness), because He who is in you is greater than he who is in them” (I John 4:4).
–“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God” (I John 4:7-8).
Choose love. You will never regret it. Live out your hatred and you will regret it for the rest of your life–and then some.