Jesus Is Victorious Over An Evil Establishment

Another example of spiritual warfare was demonstrated when Jesus confronted the scribes and Pharisees. These leaders of the Jewish faith were more interested in defending their positions of political power and influence that seeking the kingdom of God: The following statement taken from John supports this notion:

Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him. But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.” (John 11:45-48)

So now, let’s take a look at another example of the spiritual warfare of Jesus:

Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’ Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.” (Matthew 23:1-39)

This dissertation by Jesus reflects His unfavorable views of the religious leaders of His time. He instructs the people to follow their commandments because they speak from the scriptures, but he warns them not imitate their evil actions. In speaking the truth that came from the Father (Jesus only spoke of what he saw the Father do62), Jesus battles the forces of evil that live inside of these evil leaders. His repeated conflicts with them culminated in their actions to kill Him. In time, the death of Jesus on the cross would result in the ultimate victory over the stranglehold of evil that had engulfed the world at that time. One again, Jesus is victorious in spiritual warfare.

The spiritual warfare of Jesus threatened the establishment and the status quo. Jesus’ weapons of spiritual warfare were words of truth that came straight from the Father. In the example above His words had the profound effect of de-legitimizing the Scribes and Pharisees as God’s true representatives on earth. After all, why would the Jewish people believe in the Scribes and the Pharisees after they herd the words of Jesus and saw the mighty works performed at His hand? These religious leaders were right; Jesus was a threat to both their position and their authority. Their desire to kill Him was evidence of the evil in their hearts.

Now that we have presented the spiritual warfare between Jesus and the religious leaders of His day, let’s correlate them to Golden Altar and the other object found inside the Holy Place of the Tabernacle. Starting with the Golden Altar we recall that the smoke given off by burning incense was viewed as prayers going up to heaven by the Jewish people. Prayers proved mighty in bringing down the forces of evil. Therefore, it is appropriate for us to say that Jesus is our Golden Altar. His prayers are heard by the Father in heaven. We know this because in the verse above Jesus has been enlightened at the Golden Lamp Stand with the truth about these religious leaders. Furthermore, He knows the purpose of His ministry and the steps that He must take. He has an intimate relationship with the Father that was established at the Table of Show Bread as we discussed in our posting on “Jesus the bread of Life”. Most importantly however, He is the Golden Altar because He extends the sweet aroma that goes up to the Lord, to the words and actions of His life. His rebuke of these leaders is a sweet aroma to the Father in heaven. His actions become the prayer that is effective in bringing down the forces of evil. His actions are His spiritual warfare, which is a great lesson for many of us.

In our next post we will examine yet another example of the spiritual warfare of Jesus, namely His victory obtained by dying on the cross.