Jesus and Paul Under Fire

Not long ago, Rick Warren made the following statement about the 2012 Presidential Election:

“I’ve never seen more irresponsible personal attacks, mean-spirited slander, and flat-out dishonest attack ads, and I don’t expect that tone to change before the election.”

When a person – be it a candidate, political pundit, blogger, or anyone else – misrepresents another mortal, it’s not so easy to spot.

Distortions often take work to recognize. They don’t stand up and scream, “I’m a distortion, a spin, a mischaracterization.”

They’re usually floated in out-of-context quotes, partial quotes, or infused words with a meaning that the authors never intended. Sometimes out-right fabrications are created to defame someone.

Now let’s walk back 2,000 years ago and ask a question.

Smearing Jesus & Paul

Consider what was being said about Jesus during His life on earth. Then ask . . . how would this play out on MSNBC, Fox, CNN, Huffington, NY Times, Washington Post (pick your news outlet) or the blogosphere.

Note: All of these accusations weren’t terribly hard to believe if you heard them in the first century. Because distortions are deceptive and they require some work to sort out.

*Jesus was accused of being a deceiver (John 7:12).

*He was accused of being an illegitimate child (John 8:41).

*He was accused of being demon possessed (Matt. 9:34; John 7:20).

*He was accused of being Beelzebub, using the power of Satan to cast out demons (Matt. 10:25).

*He was accused of being mentally ill (John 10:20).

*He was accused of being a blasphemer – witnesses were produced to buttress this charge (Matt. 9:3; 26:65; Mark 2:7)

*He was accused of saying that he would destroy the Temple in Jerusalem (Mark 14:58).

*He was accused of being an enemy to the Law of Moses.

On top of that, Jesus’ words were misinterpreted by His own disciples (John 21:22-23) and deliberately twisted by His enemies (Matthew 26:60-61).

He was betrayed by one of His followers, denied by another at a critical time, and in His blackest hour, He was deserted by most of them.

Consider the same question for Paul of Tarsus:

*He was accused of extorting God’s people (2 Cor. 2:17; 11:7-21).

*He was accused of being a false apostle (Gal. 1:11-2:10; 2 Cor. 11:16-12:12).

*He was accused of being a flatterer (1 Thess. 2:5).

*He was accused of blasphemy (Acts 24:6).

*He was slandered and his good was evil spoken of (1 Cor. 10:30).

*He was accused of being a man pleaser and a coward (Gal. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4).

*He was accused of being greedy (1 Thess. 2:5,9).

*He was accused of being a controller (2 Cor. 10:1-2, 9-11).

*He was accused of being a deceiver and a crafty manipulator (2 Cor. 6:8; 12:16).

*He was given a bad report (reputation) by some (2 Cor. 6:8).

*He was accused of seeking glory from men (1 Thess. 2:6).

*He was the subject of insults (2 Cor. 12:10).

*He was accused of being a “cult” leader (Acts 24:5).

*He was accused of being a criminal (Acts 16:20-21; 24:5; 2 Tim. 2:9).

All told, whether or not you stand with a candidate’s political policies or not, if they traffic in untruths about others, there’s a decent change that they won’t follow through on their promises . . . or worse.

Two Closing Points

1. Don’t believe everything you read or hear about another human being. That not only goes for politicians, but for anyone who has influence . . . including Christians.

2. If you’re doing something worthwhile, you’re going to be attacked, misrepresented, and vilified. So don’t be surprised when it happens. If you’re looking for a footnote, you can find it in Jesus.

Remember the words I spoke to you: “No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” John 15:20

It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub [the head of devils], how much more the members of his household! Matthew 10:25 

Woe to you when all men speak well of you . . . Luke 6:26

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About Frank Viola

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