Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Jesus' words in Matthew 23:34-39 are grim. He sends all sorts of good teachers, messengers from God. What happens to them? In verse 34 they meet a dreadful end, being persecuted, driven from place to place, beaten, and even killed. This is not something most of us would naturally think of signing up for. Then again, with the living hope of eternal life in Christ, being a partaker of the resurrection, the thread of persecution and death isn't that big of a deal. Yes, it hurts. But look at the eternal reward!
What's the reward the persecutors receive? In verse 35 they take on the guilt of the death of all those who have suffered such persecution in the past. They are considered guilty of all the sins.
I can now see our "justice detectors" springing to life. Why would the persecutors be blamed for all the persecutions that have happened throughout history? This would be the natural balance to Jesus taking upon himself all the sins of the world. Those who are repentant sinners receive forgiveness from Jesus, for all the sin they have ever committed, including the sinful condition of the world which they inherited. Those who insist on saving themselves are guilty of all their sins, including the sinful condition of the world which they inherited. It's actually completely fair.
Let us not forget how sad this truth is. In verses 37-39 Jesus laments over Jerusalem. It is the special city of God's pleasure, the place where he put his temple, the seat of his chosen king David, the place where Jesus, God the Son, dies to purchase freedom for humanity. And left to itself Jerusalem pursues unrighteousness, sin, and death. This is the saddest thing we can imagine. After all, Jesus offered them life but they thought they knew better. He sent messenger after messenger to announce the freedom they could have. They thought they knew better.
Whether we are the special messengers sent by Jesus or the people who are hearing his messengers, may the Lord give us repentance and faith in him. We want to be given over to his grace, rather than given over to our hostility.
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