Proclaiming His Love and Mercy

The Great Contrast

He was called Jesus of Nazareth and when He began to teach and heal, the news spread quickly and the people wondered, is He the promised Messiah or an imposter? Is He just the son of a carpenter or is He truly the Son of God? The leaders of the people were perplexed by Jesus. They soon determined He could not be the chosen one because He ate with sinners, but they couldn’t explain the miracles, the authority of His words, or the wisdom of His teachings. The Promised One was hated by the powerful but adored by the masses.

There was a great contrast between the religious leaders of the day and Jesus. The Pharisees lived for the praise of men, “They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long (Matthew23:5). Jesus left all His glory in heaven, And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8).

Jesus came to take away the burden of sin and bring rest for our souls, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). The religious leaders only added to the burdens of life, “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger” (Matthew 23:4).

Compassion was lacking in the hearts of the Pharisees and they turned their backs to the poor, the lame, the blind. They verbally tortured the blind man whom Jesus healed (John 9) and threw him out of the synagogue. The Pharisees couldn’t condemn Jesus for healing, but healing on the Sabbath was unacceptable. In their minds, pulling an ox out of the ditch on the Sabbath was okay but healing a blind man was not. Their hearts had no room for compassion. Jesus is all about compassion and demonstrated His love and concern for the hopeless and the helpless time after time in the gospels. 

Jesus accused the Pharisees of preventing the people from entering the kingdom. “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in” (Matthew 23:13-14). 

Jesus came to do the will of the Father and to seek and save each of us. He gave His life so that we might have eternal life. “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.  For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:39-40). What an amazing contrast between the Pharisees and Jesus.