When Jesus went about preaching he was not confined or restricted to a pulpit. We know that he preached and taught in many different locations. Yes he preached and taught in the temple courts but he did the same on the mountain, on the sea, on the sea shore and in the streets. Jesus the Good Shepherd loved people and had endless compassion and genuine care in his heart towards people, both crowds of people and individual people.
Jesus had a tremendous ability to know what was in the heart of people; he could not be deceived and taken in by people.
Mark 2:1-8. “5When Jesus saw their faith; he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7“Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things”?
Luke 6:6-11. “6On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shrivelled. 7The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 8But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shrivelled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there. 9Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” 10He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus”.
John 2:22-25. “23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. 24But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. 25He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man”.
It is very interesting and perhaps surprising to read that Jesus would not entrust himself to people who the scripture says, “believed in his name”. This ability that Jesus had meant that no one could dupe him or lead him up the garden path, it meant that he did not need to rely on second hand information about someone’s character or reputation. He knew the motive of every heart, whether or not they were sincere and genuine or if they were hypocrites, play actors playing their religious games.
There was nothing that Jesus did not know about people and the games they played. He knew that the treasurer Judas was dipping his hand into the pot and stealing from it. He knew that this same man would one day betray him with a kiss. He knew that the tough guy Peter would deny knowing him. On another occasion crowds of people were welcoming him into Jerusalem shouting “hosanna, hosanna” and shortly after that perhaps many of that same crowd would be shouting, “crucify, crucify”. Jesus loved people but some people caused him a great deal of pain and sorrow.
We may not possess the exact same ability that Jesus had to know what was in a person’s heart but the blessed Holy Spirit can give us a definite measure of wisdom and discernment when it comes to looking into another person’s heart and life. By nature I think that I am somewhat naive when it comes to reading people. I do not like to read or analyse individuals when I am listening to them or talking with them. At one time it became almost natural for me to do so because of my counselling back ground but I try not to do that now.
I try not to be suspicious or wary of people but since the transition from the pew to the pulpit I sometimes struggle not to. As a member of the other side of the pulpit people I have listened to a number of very sincere and committed servants of the Lord sharing some of their stories of betrayal, conspiracy and deceit by people whom they never thought such things were possible. It has saddened me greatly to become aware that for many years I was not aware of the level of deep hurt and sorrow that some of those who profess to be Christ like inflict on their spiritual leaders.
Without going into any detail I have had my own experiences of people who have betrayed, conspired and deceived. I would be a play actor if I pretended that those experiences did not affect me in any way. They hurt me; they caused doubt, disappointment, discouragement, disillusionment and a certain amount of despair and distrust. I was not long a pulpit person when I experienced some of these things and I was crying out to God for comfort and to help me cope.
The Lord as always answers and he did it as I was walking down a street in Lurgan town. The verse that he chose to comfort and re-assure me was in Isaiah 54:17. “No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD”.
A few days ago I listened to someone who described to me their feelings of being betrayed by people who they never expected could or would do that to them. It left them feeling isolated, abandoned and alone. I think that Jesus must have felt something like that when one of his disciples betrayed him with that kiss we talked about earlier; another of his disciples and closest friends denied three times that he even knew him and the rest of the bunch ran away and left him all alone, abandoned. Sadly some people can use you and then loose you, this happens sometimes to pulpit people who invest time and effort in pew people for them to suddenly abandon ship as it were without any explanation.
There is very little if anything that pulpit people encounter with pew people that Jesus himself did not experience. He is therefore well qualified to identify with us and help and encourage us to keep trusting and following him irrespective of how some people treat us.
Galatians 6:9-10. “9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers”.
Hebrews 12:3. “3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart”.
If you are reading this and you have been betrayed, deceived and conspired against by some people please ask the Lord to help you look to him for encouragement and comfort and to believe that not all people will treat you that way. Often when we are feeling dejected and down we cannot see the positives in the midst of the negatives. Some years ago I read this little verse somewhere.
“Two men looked out behind prison bars,
One saw mud the other stars”.
Where are we looking?
A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills--
Where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
The Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip--
He who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you--
The LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm--
He will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
By the way when I refer to pew people I am talking about lay people and pulpit people Pastors and Ministers or whatever other name they may be called.