Today’s Reading: Luke 11:14-36 (additional reading: Psalm 77:1-20 & Proverbs 12:18)
It is clear from the text and the context that Jesus here is again about to enter another of what in the Gospels will prove to be a series of running engagements with religious leaders of Israel. As the Gospels portray it, as Jesus begins His ministry, the scribes, Pharisees and Sadduccess follow Him on the periphery of the crowds with an attitude of reluctant curiosity. But as Jesus¡¦ popularity with the people grows, and His miracles incite more excitement and commitment, the religious crowd begins to feel their own popularity with and authority over the people decline. Their curiosity changes into hatred and malice, and these religious leaders of Israel commit themselves to a course of action involving active opposition to Jesus which will finally culminate in handing Him over to the Roman Procurator Pontius Pilate for crucifixion.
One time after church, a father gripped to his son all the way home. He’d found fault with everything in the service. He criticized the preacher, the sermon, the music, and everything in general. The boy, who had noticed what his father put in the offering plate, said, “Well, Dad, what can you expect for a dollar.”
If there is one thing that I can’t stand in relation to the church– it is a negative/critical spirit. I’m under the impression that we should be characteristically positive. Are we not called to share the “Good News”? You can’t do that with a critical tone. Sure, everyone has problems. We all have our issues. There will be sin to confront. There’s issues to address. But our spirit doesn’t have to be negative– does it?
Negativity often involves personal criticism. Look at the insult and exaggeration the Scribes used on Jesus. They said that he was “possessed by Beelzebub” – the identity of Beelzebub is found in the Old Testament (II Kings 1) the name meant “Lord of Flies or Lord of Filth or Lord of Manure (the poop)” and came to be another name for Satan. I agree with Kent Hughes when he says in his discussion of this passage that “It is a fitting name for Satan, but a monstrous slander when used for Christ. . .
Negativity is a choice! It may be easier for some than others, but it is a choice. In the desert, two very different birds thrive. The vultures see nothing but dead and stinking carcasses. The hummingbirds seek the lovely blossoms of cacti. The vultures live on the dead past. The hummingbirds live on the fragrant present. Each bird finds what it is looking for. So do people.