Accusations--by Kimberly B. Southall

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Believe it or not, the ones who plotted, planned, and schemed to have Jesus crucified were all religious leaders. In the scriptures, we find that all the Jewish religious leaders used accusations to eliminate first Jesus and later, Christians. Pharisees (Matthew 12:10; Mark 3:2; Luke 6:7; John 8:6), Chief Priests (Matthew 27:12; Mark 15:3-4; Luke 23:2, 10; Acts 25:16, 18), the elders (Matthew 27:12; Mark 15:4; Acts 24:9, 12; Acts 25:16, 18), teachers of the law/a lawyer (Mark 15:4; Luke 6:7; Luke 23:2, 10; John 8:6; Acts 24:9, 12), and the Sanhedrin (Mark 15:4) were all in on it. And once their plan was set in motion and Jesus was illegally tried during the night, the Jews joined in on the accusations (John 10:36; Acts 22:30; Acts 23:28-30, 35; Acts 26:2, 7).

And these weren't just any accusations. It wasn't that these people just happened upon useful information to use against Jesus. Oh, no. They tried using a question in order to trap Jesus (John 8:6). They literally looked for a reason to accuse Him (Matthew 12:10; Matthew 26:59; Mark 3:2; Mark 14:1; Luke 6:7; Luke 22:2). Not only that, but they must have thought they needed to be sure they had "enough" to make it stick, because they accused Him of many things (Mark 15:3-4). And that's not all. After an impartial official didn't see any basis for a charge against Jesus, they continued with their accusations, insisting upon them (Luke 23:2-5). And then they turned it up a notch–they vehemently accused Jesus (Luke 23:10).

And then, after they had successfully devised a scheme, the Jews (the "regular" religious people) zealously joined in. Eventually, all their accusations and evil efforts paid off–Jesus who was without sin was crucified.

Then, after Jesus was crucified, dead, buried, had arisen, and ascended into heaven, they turned their attentions to those irritating followers of His. After all, they just wouldn't shut up! Those Christians paraded around telling everyone about Jesus. For goodness' sake, what would it take to be rid of Jesus, once and for all!? Of course, the only solution would be to kill them, too. Good riddance to bad rubbish, they must have thought.

The Bible gives us detailed accounts of how accusations were used against the apostle Paul in an attempt to silence him. Paul's accusers had a plot to be carried out against him–they conspired and even took an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed him (Acts 23:12, 30). And even though accusations made against Paul could easily be verified as being untrue (Acts 24:10-13), his accusers brought charges against him and asked for him to be condemned without even being given an opportunity to defend himself (Acts 25:15-16).

Scripture indicates that we should likewise anticipate false accusations; Christians are instructed to live such good lives among the pagans that though they may accuse us of doing wrong, they will see our good deeds and glorify God (1 Peter 2:12).

So what is the point of bringing up all of this information about accusations? On the surface, it would seem that we aren't to trust anyone, not religious leaders, not "regular" religious people, and not anyone else. But I don't believe that is the message we should glean from these scriptures. We've covered the method they all have in common–false accusations. But let's look at the motive. Let's ask ourselves why these people felt the need to make the accusations.

What was it about Jesus that the Pharisees, Chief Priests, the elders, teachers of the law, and the Sanhedrin didn't like about Jesus?

  • He told listeners that unless their righteousness surpassed that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, they would not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20).
  • He taught in their synagogues, preaching the good news and healing every kind of sickness and disease (Matthew 9:35).
  • He called them "wicked" and "adulterous" when they asked Him to perform a miracle (Matthew 12:38-39; Matthew 16:1-4).
  • He told them that they broke the command of God for the sake of their traditions (Matthew 15:1-2).
  • He taught that some of the religious traditions weren't valid, and said the Pharisees were "blind guides" (Matthew 15:10-14).
  • He warned listeners to beware of the Pharisees' and Sadducees' teaching (Matthew 16:6-12).
  • He told them their hearts were hard (Matthew 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-9).
  • He said through a parable that the kingdom of God would be taken away from them and given to another group of people who would produce fruit (Matthew 21:43-45).
  • He said through a parable that though they had been invited, they had refused the invitation and didn't deserve to come to the wedding banquet (heaven) (Matthew 22:8-15).
  • Jesus told his listeners that the Pharisees did not practice what they preached (Matthew 23:1-3).
  • He called them hypocrites and said they couldn't enter the kingdom of heaven and wouldn't let others enter, either (Matthew 23:13).
  • He called them hypocrites, sons of hell, and said they made others twice as worse as they were (Matthew 23:15).
  • He called them hypocrites and said they neglected justice, mercy, and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23).
  • He called them hypocrites and said they were full of greed and self-indulgence (Matthew 23:25-26).
  • He said they were full of hypocrisy and wickedness (Matthew 23:27-28).
  • He called them hypocrites and said they testified against themselves (Matthew 23:29-31).
  • He said they honored God with their lips but their hearts were far from Him, they worshiped God in vain, their teachings were but rules from men, they had let go the commands of God, and they nullified the word of God (Mark 7:5-13).
  • He drove the money changers and merchants out of the temple area and said they had made it a den of robbers (Mark 11:15).
  • He knew their thoughts (Mark 2:6-8; Luke 5:21-22).
  • He taught his followers to watch out for the teachers of the law. He said they devoured widows' houses and made lengthy prayers for a show, and that they would be punished most severely (Mark 12:38-40; Luke 20:46-47).
  • He said they were full of greed and wickedness and were unclean (Luke 11:39-41).
  • He said they neglected justice and the love of God (Luke 11:42).
  • He said they were like unmarked graves which men walk over without knowing it (Luke 11:44).
  • He said they loaded people down with burdens they could hardly carry and wouldn't lift a finger to help them (Luke 11:46).
  • He said they were as guilty as their forefathers who killed the prophets (Luke 11:41-51).
  • He said they had taken away the key to knowledge, hadn't entered themselves, and were hindering others from entering (Luke 11:52).
  • He warned listeners to beware of the Pharisees' hypocrisy and that their secrets would be revealed (Luke 12:1-3).
  • He said they justified themselves in the eyes of men, but God knew their hearts, and that they were detestable in God's sight (Luke 16:14-15).
  • Many of their followers had instead begun to follow Jesus (Luke 19:47-48; John 12:10, 17-19).
  • Through a parable, he called them murderers (Luke 20:9-19).
  • He told them they would die in their sin (John 8:21).
  • They thought that if Jesus continued to perform miracles, the Romans would come and take away their place and nation (John 11:46-48).
And, yet, with this long list of "reasons," the scriptures assure us that they hated Jesus without reason (John 15:25). Jesus was without sin. He was telling them the truth, and they just couldn't stand it. Jesus was fulfilling the prophecies and taking his rightful place as the promised Messiah, but they chose not to see it. They simply hated Jesus because he was all of the good things they weren't. And they decided to destroy him rather than to learn from him.

There are at least four vital lessons we should learn from this:

  1. Not all accusations are wrong. Jesus expressed plenty of accusations against the people. They were all true, and it was the right thing to express them. Therefore, we should remember that sometimes accusations do need to be made.
  2. Before making accusations against anyone else, we should check our facts and our motives first; otherwise, we may be just like the Pharisees.
  3. When we hear accusations made against a brother or sister in Christ, we should search for the reason(s) behind the accusations. The scriptures indicate that the accusations may be false ones. And if we participate in false accusations, we're like the Jews who helped to crucify Jesus.
  4. When we are wrongfully accused, we can take comfort in the knowledge that we are in the best of company–that of our Savior Jesus Christ and the Christians throughout the ages who stood firm even though it meant severe persecution.
All false accusations originate from the same source-Satan. No, Satan does not force anyone to make false accusations, but he is the one who places the notion or temptation to make them. We know this because Satan is known in scripture as "the accuser of our brothers" who will be hurled down for accusing us before our God day and night (Revelation 12:10) and because the devil is the father of lies (John 8:44). We must strive to never play into the hands of Satan and aid him in making or supporting false accusations.

Fortunately, there is very good news for all of Christ's followers–in God's eyes, we are free from accusation because we are reconciled by Christ's sacrifice (Colossians 1:22)!

Copyright © 2002 Kimberly B. Southall. All rights reserved.