Mike Pence, former Vice President of the United States, has a policy based on his Christian beliefs and marriage morality. It’s called the “Billy Graham Rule” because of the evangelist who practiced it as well – Never be alone with a woman who is not your wife. If he eats alone with a woman, that woman is his wife. If he requires an aide to work late to assist him, that aide must be male. If he attends an event where alcohol is served, he prefers his wife be present and standing close to him. He has made this policy to help him maintain his personal Christian morality and not fall into temptation. However, immediately he was ridiculed and criticized. Some questioned, “How could he rule out an entire gender over the course of his career from personal interaction with him?” He was accused of discrimination in the workplace, degrading women to sexual temptations and people to be avoided.
Similarly, many people do not appreciate nor understand and often ridicule a Christian’s beliefs and behaviors. Christians are sometimes ostracized, penalized, and harassed because they are different. A Christian can feel lonely, hurt, and abused. We live in a world that tolerates just about everything except Christian belief and their morality of right and wrong. Christians often feel bullied by those who don’t accept their Christian beliefs and behaviors.
Luke briefly summarized Jesus’ trial before the Jewish religious council, known as the Sanhedrin (the 70). Allow me to briefly outline what happened. After His arrest in Gethsemane, Jesus was first taken to Annas, the former high priest, then to the council where Caiaphas was high priest. Though they were unable to find any credible witnesses, Jesus was placed under oath to admit He was the Son of God. Upon His confession, He was condemned.
Several aspects of this midnight experience were illegal according to Jewish law. (1) The proceedings took place at a home rather than the Temple, (2) The trial was held at night, (3) Jesus was tried without any defense, (4) Contradictory testimony was to nullify both testimonies, (5) No trial was to be performed on a Feast Day, (6) An accused person could not testify against Himself (7) No one could be prosecuted for something He said, (8) A guilty verdict required 2 days for a capital trial, (9) All trials were to be public; no secret trials.
Jesus faced this unfair trials from religious bullies. Followers of Jesus sometimes face unfair treatment by bullies who hate Jesus and His righteousness and morality. What bullies do God’s people face today? The same that Jesus faced.
And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him. And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee? And many other things blasphemously spake they against him. (Luke 22:63-65)
Jesus is brutalized. They mock, beat, hit and insult Him. Followers of Jesus will endure emotional bullies and sometimes physical bullies.
In 2012, between 10,000 & 30,000 atheists and agnostics met on the National Mall in Washington DC. Featured speakers included comedian Bill Maher, magician Penn Jillette and Richard Dawkins. Rather than trashing religion, Richard Dawkins called on his listeners to “ridicule and show contempt” for the religious and their doctrines. Make fun of them rather than try to reason with them. Faith and reason are not incompatible. But in the absence of reason, people often resort to ridicule and sarcasm.
To withstand the possible ridicule of those who may be religious bullies, it is important for Christians to fellowship with other believers. We are in this journey together. Jesus was all alone. But you don’t need to be.
And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying, Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go. Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth. (Luke 22:66-71).
Jesus was charged with blasphemy. They questioned if He was the Christ, the Son of God. If they could get Him to admit His claim to being Christ, Pilate may execute Him as a political rival. If they could get Him to admit to being the Son of God, they may be able to get the Jewish population to agree with their charge of blasphemy. Jesus admits to both charges, He is the Christ, the King of the Jews and He is the Son of God, deity in human flesh. These religious leaders used Jesus’ religious beliefs against Him and turned against Him because of what He believed.
Joel Osteen is not a symbol of conservative, Biblical theology and is often accused to be a false teacher. He has often been embraced by celebrities, politicians, and world leaders (Oprah, Cher, Tyler Perry, etc.) for his positive outlook and refusal to admit to any controversial issue. That is until he came out on the biblical side of homosexuality by stating that the scripture is clear and it does not change – Homosexuality is a sin. He is now accused of being a bigot, narrow-minded, and judgmental. Some celebrities have even chosen to boycott him or anyone who likes him. It’s amazing how fast opinions change when the truth of the Bible is taken literally.
Theology and doctrine will divide people. However, believers need to study the Scriptures to know what they believe. We may face theological bullies. But it is better to stand for God’s truth than be accepted by falsehood. In addition, it is important for Christians not to become bullies. We cannot force or intimidate people to believe the Bible. We must even love our enemies and do good to them. That’s what Jesus said (Luke 6:35).
Jesus is no longer on trial in any kind of court case. Even if we could have a debate between the top atheists and Christians, it would not settle the issue with many people. Every day we live, unbelievers are watching how we live our life and are deciding if the Gospel is true according to what we believe and how we believe it. I encourage you to live in such a way that your life and words reflect the truth and grace of Jesus Christ. John tells us that Jesus was full of “grace and truth”. Let’s be the same – full of grace and truth.
A lot of effort went into condemning and crucifying an innocent man. Jesus went through an unfair trial so that his people would not have to face a fair trial and receive the well-deserved punishment for their sins.