...From Best to Worst
by Norman Edwards
In that all-important Passover event—the persecution, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ—there were 10 different types of people who played various roles. These 10 types are still with us today. The significant people that shape your life probably all fall into one of these categories. Understanding these types can be a great benefit to changing ourselves, and to recognizing and working with other types whom we cannot change.
The most obvious, and most righteous, is Jesus Himself. Though falsely accused of many things, He had no sin and was willing to sacrifice everything for the world. The opposite end of the spectrum was the Jewish leaders of the day: scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, etc. They used their religious and civil authority to make themselves look good while they were doing great evil to many. There were many people in between these two extremes—with varying degrees of understanding of what was really happening.
It is interesting that many Christians believe the “end time” will be the most evil time ever—so evil that God would destroy the world if it were not for the believers (Matt 24:21-22; Joel 2:2; Mal 4:1-6, 2Tim 3:1-5; Rev 6:9-11; 7:14; 9:20-21; 13:16-17; 16:9-11). These scriptures make it clear that it is not just a few very evil leaders like a Stalin or Hitler that will be present, but that a great number of people will be evil. Scripture also shows that these persons in authority are not simply infringing on one or two of the ten commandments, or failing to thoroughly study and keep them in their spiritual intent; they have greatly violated nearly all of them.
So where are all of these evil people today?
Are they all in hiding, waiting until the very end? Do they all live in foreign countries? In other words, is our nation full of mostly righteous people? (If so, does it make sense that God would bring the biggest judgment ever on our country?) Are the evil people largely powerless right now? Are our present leaders basically righteous people? This writer believes that the answer to every question in this paragraph is a resounding “No!”
Luke 11:46-51, Matthew 23 and other scriptures show that the people in Jesus’ day were some of the most evil who had ever lived up to that point in history. It is clear that the apostles continued to teach that they were living in a “perverse generation” (Acts 2:40), but the people they spoke to did not seem to recognize it. Sure, they knew they had trouble, but of all the questions that they asked Jesus and the apostles, “why are we in such evil times?” was rarely raised. Our day is not very different.
From the people of the Passover, we can learn much about the people of today. Here are the 10 different types of people that this writer has identified:
1. Jesus: A Good Man Who Served Others, but Who Was Falsely Accused and Condemned
The New Testament is sometimes portrayed as the story of a universally recognized good and kind Jesus who preached love and miraculously healed everyone—until some jealous Jews and rotten Romans finally decided to gang up and put Him to death. An honest reading of the scripture shows that Jesus’ ministry was never without controversy and accusations against Him.
First, realize Jesus’ ministry was not a conflict between “Christians and Jews” or “Christians and Romans”. The term “Christian” was not in use until much later in Antioch (Acts 11:26). The Romans regarded Jesus and His followers as the Nazarene Sect of the Jews (Acts 24:5)—they cared little about doctrinal differences, but only for the peace and prosperity of the empire. Nearly all of Jesus’ disciples regarded themselves as Jews—as Jesus was (Heb 7:14). The conflict was between the common people who often wanted to hear Jesus (Matt 12:37) and the corrupt leaders who saw Him as a threat to their power:
“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 11:48).
Similarly, for those who seek to let Jesus live in their hearts and do His work today, the biggest threat in most western countries is not from Jews or other religions, but from the national leaders who are afraid of losing their power.
Then they looked for a way to arrest him [Jesus] because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away (Mark 12:12, NIV).
Indeed, Jesus had to contend with numerous accusations against Him from the leaders, and numerous attempts to arrest Him and/or kill Him.
So the question every Christian should ask themselves now is: “What do I think when I hear about a Christian teacher, who may have a reputation for miracles or other good works, but also is being accused of breaking laws and other bad things?” There maybe warrants out for his arrest—or he has already been arrested or spent some time in jail. Do we say, “if he were a godly person, that wouldn’t have happened?” Do we think, “I don’t want to be affiliated with him.” If we will not get involved in controversy, we cannot be involved with Jesus Christ. If people are willing to believe what their leaders say, without checking themselves into the message of Jesus and/or His followers, they will stay away.
Let us see what the Scriptures say about the goodness of Jesus, and the falseness of what was said about Him.
“Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (1Pet 2:22-24).
For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree. 57 Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, 58 “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.’ “ 59 But not even then did their testimony agree (Mark 14:56-58).
Jesus’ innocence was attested to by the Roman governor Pilate (Luke 23:22), Pilate’s wife (Matt 27:19), the thief on the cross (Luke 23:41) and the Centurion who guarded Him (Luke 23:47). There were people who were able to discern the truth about Him in spite of all the false accusations against Him. What were these false accusations?
The leaders said that Jesus was “born of fornication” (John 8:41). The leaders, who knew the scriptures and could have had access to any records of the actual birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, claimed that Jesus could not be the Messiah because He was from Nazareth:
Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? “Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?...” They [the leaders] answered and said to him [Nicodemus], “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.” (John 7:41-42,52)
These leaders could have also found and made known the quotes from Isaiah 9:1-2 and Hosea 11:1 that Matthew applies to Jesus’ birthplace and His sojourn in Egypt:
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned” (Matt 4:15-16).
and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son” (Matt 2:15)
Even though Jesus’ healing and teaching was accepted by most people, the leaders continually accused Him of having a demon and using the prince of demons to case out demons:
And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke. And the multitudes marveled, saying, “It was never seen like this in Israel!” But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons” (Matt 9:33-34)
“It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known (Matt 10:25-26).
And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons” (Matt 12:23-24).
Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” (John 8:48).
Then the Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death’” (John 8:52).
The accusations of the leaders were effective against Jesus—just as most people believe what their leaders say about other people today. When you hear about someone arrested or indicted for a crime, do you assume that he is guilty and hope that the leaders can “get him”, or do you pray that justice will be done and that the truth will come out in the trial?
Therefore there was a division again among the Jews [the people] because of these sayings. And many of them said, “He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?” (John 10:19-20).
In Matthew 11:2-15, even John the Baptist, the greatest ever born among women (v 11), who was the “Elijah” to prepare the way before Jesus (v 14), began to doubt if Jesus was the Messiah (v 3). While John was in prison (v2), he was likely only hearing the official government line, so he sent two of his own disciples to contact Jesus (v 3). Jesus told John’s disciples to give a fair report of what was really happening: “The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (v 5). Then Jesus added this statement: “And blessed is He who is not offended because of Me” (v 6). There was nothing offensive in what Jesus was saying and doing here—but one could certainly have been offended if he believed the “official line” about Jesus.
Even after this, Jesus’ disciples were still being confused by the leadership of the time’s erroneous statements about what was necessary for the Messiah to come:
And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands” (Matt 17:10-12).
Besides the false accusations, many leaders also “smeared” Jesus by telling only partial stories, making Him look bad:
And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mark 2:16).
But after this good explanation, did they stop their complaints? Much later:
And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2).
Jesus had yet more misinformation to put up with.
Then Jesus said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “Will He kill Himself, because He says, ‘Where I go you cannot come’?” (John 8:21-22).
And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King” (Luke 23:2).
We need to realize that all of these things said against Jesus were not just back-fence gossip or pronouncements of faceless bureaucrats that were ignored by most people. These were things said by the respected men in power. If they were not respected for their character, they were at least respected for their power (like today). The leaders had control over what was said in the temple and many synagogues. They could write public decrees and hire heralds to take them about and read them in the market places. Certainly their words were repeated from house to house much more than the words of someone without an office. By comparing it with today’s media, it was as if the leaders back then had control of the major networks, newspapers and magazines.
These leaders stood behind what they said. They made efforts to kill Jesus throughout most of His ministry. (See the last section of this article.)
While the physical Jesus does not walk the earth today, there should be those in whom Christ dwells (Gal 2:20), who are doing the greater works (John 14:12) that He promised His followers would do.
“Remember the word that I [Christ] said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me” (John 15:20-21).
Many believers were killed or persecuted in the process of preserving and translating the Bible, and in bringing it to the world and teaching its message. Many others suffered and died trying to establish ministries to provide, in the name of Christ, healing and the basic necessities to those in need. These people can be found throughout the various Christian denominations and also outside of them.
2. Righteous Leaders
While the Bible does not say much about them, there are two leaders who stand out as taking a great personal risk to do what they could to aid Jesus on that most-important Passover: Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. While Nicodemus is probably most famous for not understanding what Jesus meant by saying “you must be born again” in John 3, he must be credited for being one of the few ruling Pharisees who came to Jesus to give Him a fair hearing. He becomes more devoted to God as he goes. Later, in John 7, Nicodemus and some temple guards take a risk to do what was right and were used of God to prevent Jesus from being arrested before His time.
The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him…. 45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” 46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards declared. 47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, 51 “Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? [An insult!] Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.” 53 Then each went to his own home (John 7:32, 45-53, NIV).
A couple of years later, Nicodemus worked together with Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the council, to obtain the body of Jesus and give it the customary Jewish burial, including the initial spices. This was vitally important as there was a prophecy that His body would not decay (Acts 2:25-32). Joseph was on the council and opposed the condemnation of Jesus.
Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body (Mark 15:43, NIV).
Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God (Luke 22:50-51)..
After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. 39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury (John 19:38-40).
By putting all of these accounts together, we find that Joseph was a secret disciple of Jesus, for fear of the Jewish leaders, but was very bold in asking for the body of Jesus. Joseph and Nicodemus were at great risk of losing their positions, being cast out of the synagogue, or suffering further vengeance at the hand of the Jews. The Bible does not say what happened to them.
The lesson for today, however, is that out of the entire governing council of that day, there appears to be only two righteous men who opposed Jesus’ unjust death. The issue of the day was NOT: “Which is the right party? Pharisee or Sadducee?” So today, in our governments, the question is NOT “Which is the right party? Republican or Democrat?” The problem is that the vast majority are dealing corruptly for their own benefit, oppressing the honest poor and promoting unjust war, immorality, idolatry, divorce, abortion, homosexuality and all kinds of other evil in the process. The question is, where are the few honest men in any office in any party?
Are there any honest leaders today who are like Joseph of Arimathea or Nicodemus? There are a very few. Some of them, like Nicodemus, have chosen for a period of time to keep some of what they know a secret. If they told everything they knew of the other evil leaders, they would not be believed because of the magnitude of the evil (just as most people did not believe that the leaders were planning to kill Jesus all along)
It exceeds the scope of this article to try to identify the most significant honest leaders today, but a few come to mind. Lyndon LaRouche has clearly identified many of the evils in our government and organized a movement against them for 30 years now. Because of his beliefs, he and his associates went through an illegal trial on trumped-up charges and spent more than five years in jail—only for the Attorney General to publicly call for his exoneration after it was over. Presidential candidate Ron Paul had previously run as a Libertarian, but is running this time as a Republican because the press simply ignores all but the major parties. The other republican candidates and the press largely ignored him this year—even though one of the biggest problems political analysts face is finding major significant differences between the platforms of any of the candidates of either party. One more honest leader is Roy Moore, who lost his position as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court because he refused to remove a display of the Ten Commandments from his court room.
Finding leaders today who are righteous and willing to take a stand for what is right and good is a subject for future articles.
3. The Courageous Believers
Several believers exhibited sufficient faith to be publicly seen supporting Jesus during and after His crucifixion. They did not face the great risks that those mentioned above faced, but their actions likely were seen as very risky at that time. The first person of note is Simon, a Cyrenian, who helped carry Jesus’ execution stake. We don’t know much about where he was from or where he went afterward. But we do know that there was a multitude that followed Him and some women who supported Him:
Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus. And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him (Luke 23:26-27).
While Jesus was on the cross, some women looked on from a distance. Eventually, some of them came up close enough to talk to Jesus. The Apostle John, who refers to himself as “the disciple whom He loved”, actually received a commission from Jesus to look after Mary, His mother. Jesus gave this important mission to John because He knew that he would live a long time, whereas other apostles might not (John 21:18-22). There is no scripture saying that any of these people tried to stop the process or complained to the government, but they were not afraid to be identified as His followers:
And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, were there looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons (Matt 27:55-56).
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home (John 19:25).
Also, we must take note of the unnamed criminals that were being executed with Jesus. One demanded that Jesus provide an immediate physical deliverance for all three of them—a very human thought when one has nails in one’s hands and feet. But the other appeared repentant—having the faith to accept his punishment for his deeds and to obtain a promise of eternal life from Jesus.
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:40-43, NIV).
Finally, there were women who bought and prepared spices to be applied later to His body. They went to the tomb with them, not even knowing how they would get the stone rolled away. They ended up being the first witnesses of His resurrection and had to carry that message to disbelieving disciples (Matt 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-13).
This group of people is a remarkable collection of those who did the right thing in a difficult situation—even when that right thing may not have had any earth-shaking consequences. Their station in life varies from the apostle John to committed followers to a criminal being executed. While most leadership positions are given to men in the Bible, we find this group to be either an even mix, or possibly, even primarily composed women.
And so throughout history, and even down to our day, there are all manner of Christians who will stand up for the name and teachings of the Bible. They fight for freedom of religion, they help those who are unjustly persecuted, they print Bibles and take them throughout the world—sometimes where they are not exactly welcome. These courageous Believers do not neatly fit into any classification of denomination or doctrine, but commonly exhibit a willingness to ask, “What would Jesus do” when it may not be popular.
“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt 10:32-33).
4. Believers Needing to Be Filled with the Spirit
Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples (Matt 26:34-36).
Though Peter and all the other disciples promised to die for Jesus, they all deserted Him when the soldiers came to arrest Him. Peter and an “other disciple” (probably John—he refers to himself that way elsewhere) later followed Jesus to His initial trial. Peter denied he knew Him—especially when Peter was accused by a relative of the man from which Peter cut off an ear (John 18:15-27). There is nothing else in the Bible about what the “other disciple” did. If he stayed and attempted to be a witness for Christ, he certainly should be in category 2, above.
Obviously, Jesus did not expect His followers to stand up for Him and prevent His death (Matt 26:39, 42). However, their fearful approach had to be replaced by a bold approach to carry the Gospel to the world:
Luke 22:31 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
Acts 4:18 And they [Jewish leadership] called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” 21 So when they had further threatened them… 29 [The disciples prayed:] “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
Before any of us says, “I would not have denied Christ if I had been there with Him”, think about this: What would you do if dozens of men in riot gear suddenly came to where you are right now with weapons drawn, demanding that everyone put their hands in the air and forcing an innocent good friend of yours to the floor, hand- and leg-cuffing him and dragging him off to a waiting vehicle. Your efforts to say, “this must be a mistake, I know this person” are met with guns pointed directly at you and, “Hold it right there or we will take you, too” and no answer to anything else that you say. As soon as they leave, are you going to get in your car, follow the men and try to speak on behalf of your friend? Or are you going to stay out of trouble that you can’t do anything about? This writer would hope that he would have the courage to be a witness for his innocent friend—especially if it were Jesus. But I have never been so tested and don’t really know. Do you?
Today, it seems many Christians fit this category. They want to follow God and do His work—and they hope their children will do the same—but they are not bold enough to take the steps to bring that about. The most common approach is for Christians to first make sure they have all of the physical things they consider necessary: house, cars, furnishings, clothes, food, medical care, retirements, investments, vacations, insurance for all of the above, etc. After that, they use what is left to do God’s work: preaching the Gospel to the world and providing what is necessary to feed the flock. The following scripture gets lost somehow:
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt 6:31-33).
Christians believe that the Bible teaches that parents are responsible for determining what their children are taught, what physical discipline they receive, what medical care they receive, what sexual practices are acceptable, etc. There is a great tendency among Christians to let governments decide many of these things for them—even to the detriment of their children. The faith to do what is right and to receive deliverance from the Eternal is often lacking. May the Eternal bless all of us with more wisdom and faith in these areas.
5. Secular Officials with Some Conscience
An important question to employees within any civil government, large corporation or hierarchical church is: “Will you follow orders without questioning them?” While most of these groups would officially state that they would not expect their employees to follow orders that are illegal or unethical, the common practice is for the employees to let the leaders determine what is or is not permissible. The more evil the organization, the more evil things they ask of their workers. The overwhelming teaching of the Bible is, of course, that one does what is right even if it contradicts human orders (Ex 23:2; Deut 13:1-18; Prv 1:10-11; Dan 3:17-18; Acts 5:29). Even if a large group of people are doing evil, we must no go along with them.
Here is a good example: There were some officers in Jesus day who at one time were ordered to arrest Him. Upon hearing Jesus speak, they decided that their leader’s orders should not be obeyed:
Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?” 46 The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:45-46).
Later on, some soldiers did finally carry out Jesus’ crucifixion. Even as they were doing it, they received an immediate prayer for forgiveness from Jesus—something that none of the individuals in the categories below this received. Finally, when those guarding Jesus saw the great signs accompanying His death, they acknowledged Him as the son of God.
Luke 23:33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.
So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matt 27:54).
As Western governments become move evil and more opposed to activities of Bible-believing Christians (public evangelism, teaching that Christianity is the only true religion, home schooling, premarital sexual abstinence, heterosexuality, non-vaccination, etc.), it is important for Christians to realize that not every government official is out to get them. Sometimes, the Apostle Paul was rescued by one government while he was being persecuted by another (Acts 21:31-33; 23:22-24). The Bible teaches that we should pray for “all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1Tim 2:2). If an official’s approach to Christians is unknown, expecting that he or she will mistreat Christians may well cause that very thing. Praying for peace and hoping for the best is a much better approach.
It may be that some officials can become believers themselves when they see the importance of their decision and the witness of Christians. When Paul was on trial before Herod Agrippa, this interesting exchange occurred:
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains” (Acts 26:28-29).
6. The Unthinking Masses
During His ministry, Jesus had a lot to say about the common people—the masses—of His day. We use the term “masses” or “common people” to refer to the majority who were neither leaders nor poor, sick, widows or in some other way unable to change there situation in life. These common people could have learned more, done more and drawn closer to God, but in most cases, never did.
And the Lord said, “To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying: ‘We played the flute for you, And you did not dance; We mourned to you, And you did not weep.’ 33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” (Luke 7:31-34).
Nevertheless, Jesus loved the common people and had compassion on them. He asked us to pray for people who would be sent to help them:
But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” 1 And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease (Matt 9:36-10:1).
John chapter 6 reveals the fickleness of the common people. They first wanted to force Jesus to be King because He was a “prophet”, but Jesus showed them that they just wanted free food. Later, the people complained about Him.
Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone…. 26 Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled… 41 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” 42 And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” (John 6:14-15, 26, 41-42).
It is clear that some of the common people did their homework better than others. In John 7:19, the people tell Christ “you have a demon. Who is seeking to kill You?” Some had probably heard the corrupt leaders say that He had a demon, as they publicly said it often (Matt 9:34; 12:24; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15; John 8:48,52; 10:20). They tried to keep their plans to kill Him a secret—they would look bad. But some of the common people probably knew and trusted some of the few good leaders—or even lower ranking people who worked in the government offices. They found the conspiracy against Jesus:
Now some of them from Jerusalem said, “Is this not He whom they seek to kill? But look! He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ? (John 7:25-26).
The way of the unthinking masses is probably best demonstrated during the final Passover week. The people exalted Jesus so much on His triumphal entry to Jerusalem that the Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke them for their excessive praise. Yet just a week later, the leaders had convinced the people to lobby for Jesus’ death. Matthew and Luke have the same essence of this story, even though the words are completely different:
Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee” (Matt 21:9-11)
Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: “ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples” (Luke 19:37-39).
Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate. 20 Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them. 21 But they shouted, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” (Luke 23:1,20-21).
But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” They said, “Barabbas!” 22 Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!” 23 Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!” 24 When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.” 25 And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matt 27:20-25).
The last passage is particularly condemning. All the people were wrongly persuaded by their leaders to argue for the death of a Man whom they knew to be a righteous Man only a few days before.
So what about today? Most people would agree that most advertisements are not truthful. Yet how many of us believe them enough to buy those products anyway? If the ads did not work, the companies would certainly stop paying for them. But they do work, because too many of us are too willing to accept something that is not true—if it is “popular”.
Do most people believe that our leaders are truthful? Do we believe they keep their promises? When they come up for election, do we look at their previous promises and check their records to see if they kept their promises? Or do we just believe their latest smooth words and promises, and vote for them again? Do we think leaders can be obvious liars and fornicators, but still keep our own best interests at heart? If they are not faithful to their own families, how will they be faithful to the common people, whom they do not even know?
This writer has been frequently dumbfounded by Christians who believe our leaders are corrupt, yet also believe that anyone who has been arrested, convicted or punished by our leaders “must be guilty”. I have occasionally asked these people, “If you had been alive in Jesus time, would you have accepted the Jewish leaders’ charges against Him?” “Of course not!”, is the common answer. But very few people will agree to keep the conversation going when I ask what they would have done in Jesus day to prove that the government accusations against Him were false, and what they are doing now to determine which government assertions are false.
These people are not evil co-conspirators. It is just too unsettling for them to believe that the corruption of our own leaders is causing the suffering and death of innocent people—and that we might somehow be responsible for looking into it and taking action. It is easier to remain ignorant until the situation becomes obvious and many people join the cause. But by then, it is often too late to do anything about it.
7. Generally Just Leaders Who Yield to Pressure
There are many leaders, Christian and otherwise, who generally understand the golden rule and want to treat others as they would want to be treated. In short, they want to “do what is right”. However, “there is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Prv 14:12). Doing what is right sometimes requires self-sacrifice and faith that God will take care of us—either preserving our life now or raising us to our reward as the many examples in Hebrews 11.
But many otherwise just leaders also have the belief that if they cannot obtain or remain in their position, then they cannot do any good for anyone else. So they justify all manner of unjust things to gain or keep their governing job.
The Roman Governor Pilate and his wife appear to fall into this category. They knew that Jesus was innocent and that Jewish leaders were delivering Him due to their envy, not because He had done something wrong.
Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy. While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him” (Mat 27:17-19).
The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.” 8 Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid, 9 and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” 11 Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” 12 From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.” 13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth [“third”—some manuscripts] hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!” 16 Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led Him away (John 19:7-16).
This account as well as the other Gospel’s show that Pilate knew Jesus had done nothing wrong and worked hard to try to let Jesus go. Yet the Jewish leaders worked hard to turn this into a public contest as to whether Pilate was loyal to Caesar or “King Jesus”. If Pilate chose Jesus over Caesar, it is very likely that the Jewish leaders would have trotted off to Rome with this information and may well have been the end of Pilate’s governorship—maybe the end of Pilate. This is a trial that many of us have not faced. Nevertheless, Jesus said that those who delivered Jesus had the “greater sin”—meaning that Pilate had sin also. Pilate was the only one that had authority to put a person to death (John 18:31). The Bible has no clear statement that Pilate repented or obtained forgiveness; it does say that he desired no responsibility for the death of a just Person who was the rightful King of the Jews:
When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”
Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.”’” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written” (John 19:21-22).
Today, we have many leaders like this. They have good principles and want to do good, but they know that they must get elected to do that good—so they are willing to lie or cheat a little to get elected. Once in office, they will try to be fair—unless there is something that threatens their career.
However, when one throws natural human temptation and other Satanic leaders into the mix, the results can be very dangerous. The vast majority of leaders are deliberately tempted to accept illegal money or unethical sex, usually beginning early in their careers and often continuing throughout. Most of them accept it. Often, they do not realize that they are accepting it from somebody acting on behalf of a Satanic leader. But when that “generally just leader” decides to take a righteous stand on a controversial issue, suddenly their secret sins are unearthed—and will make their way into the popular press if they do not back down. For the evil people who provide the “free” temptations, it is a small price to pay for control of an otherwise “good” leader.
When a scandal or claims of illegal activity emerge about a leader, it is interesting to look at their most recent legislation, speeches, etc. Sometimes one finds that they were indeed taking a courageous stand, and are now being destroyed because of it. (On the other hand, the leaders may be thoroughly unrighteous and their sins are finally catching up with them.)
Obviously, we would be best off with leaders who had no secret sins, but there are probably very few of those. This writer therefore hopes that of the many leaders who do have secret sins or who have been tempted to protect their own power at the expense of right decisions for the people will realize that they are being judged for what they do and that they should make the right decision, even if it hurts them:
“But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt 12:6-37).
8. Unjust Leaders that Use Their Power Capriciously
Nearly everywhere, it seems there are leaders more interested in their own pleasure and in proclaiming their own greatness than in serving the people whom God has entrusted to them. Jesus summed this up in two sentences:
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles Lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant (Matt 20:25-26).
Unfortunately, many people who are in the “lower ranks” of authority chains desire to use their power, however limited it may be, over others to make them miserable. To them, it is a proof that they have power. They frequently have little interest in the charges against the person they are abusing and whether or not they are really innocent or guilty. Jesus had to suffer through at least two groups of soldiers like this :
Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him. And having blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face and asked Him, saying, “Prophesy! Who is the one who struck You?” And many other things they blasphemously spoke against Him (Luke 22:63-65).
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. 28 And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. 29 When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified (Matt 27:27-31).
Many of today’s military and police forces are little different. They will participate in abuse and torture of others “because they can”, not because they have thoroughly investigated the beliefs of their opponent and believe them to be justly deserving of some great punishment. The higher leaders rarely want to take the responsibility for ordering this kind of evil treatment, but they are more than willing to unofficially let it happen. The stern and often unfair discipline of the military command structure encourages the soldier to treat enemy “targets”, even helpless prisoners, the same way.
Capricious leaders are not confined to the lower ranks. King Herod, the man that had John the Baptist killed as a reward for some dubious dance, also misused his authority during that most important Passover. His main goal was to satisfy himself by seeing a miracle. Then he treated Jesus with undeserved contempt. Little effort was made to determine the truth of any accusations or to provide for justice in any other way. Herod’s political position was not threatened. He could have done something. But he did not.
Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him. 9 Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing. 10 And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him. 11 Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate (Luke 23:8-11).
Our age certainly has its share of unjust leaders. Modern bureaucratic systems frequently make it very difficult to remove an unjust person from the office. Incumbent congressmen and senators have free mailing privileges and many other advantages that virtually make it impossible for new candidates to win elections against them. Many judges also fall in this category. Nevertheless, Christ gave us a formula for dealing with them:
…”There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me’ “ (Luke 18:2-4).
Even when unjust judges, or other leaders, are continually confronted with an honest and sincere request, they will often honor it. Sure, they will be judged for what they do, and it would be better to replace them with just leaders. But even with these men, we can still pray for “all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1Tim 2:2), and we can go to them continually until we obtain justice.
9. Evil Men Willing to Make Others Suffer for Them
These final two types of people of the Passover must be classified as evil. They are not defending themselves, but are aggressively trying to benefit from evil that they do to others.
Both of the two men who were crucified with Jesus were criminals—robbers as Matthew says. They really were guilty (Luke 23:41). They had profited from the suffering of others. Both initially insulted the unjustly suffering Christ:
In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him (Matt 27:44, NIV).
But after seeing Jesus’ attitude and the events that transpired, one criminal repented (see type 3, above). But what about the other? He continued in his evil way. Only a few verses after hearing Jesus ask God for forgiveness for those who crucified Him, this criminal demanded that Christ use His power to free him. Even if Christ had to abort his mission to save all mankind and kill off all the soldiers guarding them, this criminal wanted to escape the punishment he deserved.
Luke 23:39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”
To this writer’s knowledge, this criminal never repented, but is awaiting a resurrection (Rev 20:11-12).
Judas Iscariot is a much better known robber and criminal. Even though Judas was called to be a disciple from the beginning (Matt 10:4), he never seemed to internalize the teachings of Jesus:
This he [Judas] said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it (John 12:6).
We cannot know if Judas had some partly noble, non-financial, motive in betraying Jesus. Some have speculated that he did not want Jesus to suffer or die, but only wanted to provoke a direct confrontation between Jesus and the Jewish/Roman authorities, prompting Him to use His miraculous power to defeat them. Whatever the case, Judas premeditated and carried out a plan to risk Jesus’ life to accomplish his own purposes—and to pick up 30 pieces of silver in the process:
Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him (Matt 26:14-16).
Even though Judas committed this great evil, he still had some kind of conscience. He did realize that he sinned. Yet he did not have a godly repentance as the Apostle Paul who turned his persecution of Christ into service for Him (1Cor 15:9-10). Judas, after being used and then rejected by the Satanic leaders who benefited from his actions, committed suicide.
Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.” And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in (Matt 27:3-7).
Today, our world has many people acting like this unnamed criminal and like Judas. They are doing things that they know are evil and everybody suffers. They are criminals walking the streets but they are also in business, industry, government and religion. Some of them recognize what they are doing at some point and stop, others are caught and die or go to prison. We are all too familiar with “suicide bombers”, “terrorists” and others that take great risks to themselves to accomplish some evil.
How many mass shootings have there been where the shooter(s) ended up being shot by authorities or supposedly shooting themselves? We frequently do not know if they act on their own volition or if they were funded and manipulated by someone more evil than themselves. It is interesting that the book of acts records a different story than Matthew did, above:
(Now this man [Judas] purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood) (Acts 1:18-19).
Who bought the field, Judas or the priests and elders? Did Judas fall down or hang himself? Did he die before or after the field was purchased? The book of Acts gives its information source as the people in Jerusalem—but did the people see the event themselves or was this official disinformation? Matthew does not say where he received his information, but the surrounding narrative seems to come from an eyewitness at the actions of the elders and chief priests. Would these evil men want to suppress the story that Judas repented? Matthew wrote that Judas “went and hanged himself”—apparently in a different location. Is it possible that the evil leaders sent somebody with Judas to “help” him? The Bible does not say so—it leads us to believe that Judas killed himself, but it is significant that the Bible records the conflicting accounts of Judas death. In any case, dead killers cannot say why they killed or how they died.
When Christians today know greatly troubled people, they should pray for them, command the demons to leave them, and encourage them to replace their troubles with the love of Christ, Bible reading, praise and worship music, and Christian fellowship. While the scriptures prophesied that Judas’ job of betrayal had to be done, there is a lot of evil in our day that need not go on. “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask” (Jms 4:2).
10. Satanic Leaders Who Carefully Craft Plans to Destroy Good to Further Their Evil
The title of this section, may sound extreme, but it is utterly true. This writer believes it is worth the time to explain it in detail. The conflict between Jesus and those who put Him to death is not a conflict of “Christian vs. Jew”, “New vs. Old Testament” or even “grace vs. law”. Nicodemus and Paul were good Pharisees, nearly all the disciples were Jews and the Bible says “the law is holy “ (Rom 7:12). The conflict is Jesus vs. Satan and his agents.
If one studies the titles used for those who oppose Jesus in the scriptures, there is a great diversity: Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, chief priests, lawyers, doctors of the law, Herodians, counsel members, etc. Not every person in each one of these groups was bad. But there were many Satan-inspired persons in every group, and they were effective in convincing the whole group that it was in their interests to fight against Jesus.
The Battle Is Against Satan
Paul told us not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2Cor 2:11), but too many believers are. Jesus spent a lot of time explaining the magnitude of the evil of those who killed Him. We need to grasp it so we can understand the magnitude of the evil of our day.
While most Bible translations do not contain the words “Satanists” or “devil-worshippers”, the Bible does say that some people actually worship Satan and/or his demons (Deut 32:17; Lev 17:7; Pslm 106:37; 1Co 10:20; 1Ti 4:1; Rev 9:20). While there worship nearly always does include idols, torture, human sacrifices, and other creepy weird stuff, these things are often done in secret (Deut 13; 6-9; 27:15; Ezk 8:7-12, Eph 5:11-12) It is common for Satanists to massively lie, pretend to be true worshippers of God, and to infiltrate true churches and their ministries. They are in churches and governments all around us.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (1Tim 4:1).
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works (2Cor 11:13-15).
“I [Christ] know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;…I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan (Rev 2:2,9).
“Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie… “ (Rev 3:9).
In Matthew 13, Jesus gives two parables to explain the way that people will react to His word. The first parable is about a sower who sows seed 1) by the wayside, 2) on stony places, 3) among thorns and 4) on good ground (Matt 13:3-9). Jesus explains that these symbolize people: 1) who do not understand the word, 2) who do not endure persecution, 3) who are distracted by the deceitfulness of riches, and 4) who bear good fruit (Matt 13:18-23). The second parable is about tares that the enemy sows among the master’s wheat, and the master decides to let both grow together (Matt 13:24-30). Jesus’ explanation is this:
“The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. (Matt 13:38-39)
The first parable contains three categories of people who may be called Christians, but who do not bear fruit. In the second parable, the tares are those that are deliberately set in the church by Satan. From an agricultural perspective, tares look like wheat as they are growing—it is only when it is time to bear fruit that they are exposed. We should expect men and women sewn by Satan to be among both the leaders of Jesus age and in our age today.
Leaders Who Killed Jesus Were Satanic
When Jesus was addressing a group of Jewish leaders who wanted to kill Him, four times He referred to “your father” and explained that it was the devil. Some religious teachers claim that these Jewish leaders were somehow physically descended from the devil marrying a human woman, but that is not the case. Christ starts by acknowledging that these leaders are physical descendants of Abraham, but then goes into a spiritual discussion where He refutes their claims that Abraham and ultimately God was spiritually their father. Christ shows that God was His Father because He did His works, and that Satan was their father because they did Satan’s works. Christ goes on to say that Satan is the father of lies—obviously a spiritual thing. (Satan does not father physical “little baby lies” and raise them to be “told” somewhere.)
I [Christ] know you are Abra ham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.” 39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 “But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 “You do the deeds of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 “Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 “Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 “He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God” (John 8:38-47).
How did these Satanist leaders respond to this surge of truth about themselves and Jesus? In the same way that Satanists would respond today: with more lies, discrediting Jesus and accusing Him of demonism, the very thing that they were doing:
Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” (John 8:48).
These evil leaders frequently accused Jesus of the demonic evils that they practiced:
Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”… “And if I [Christ] cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges (Matt 12:24,27).
Satanic Leaders Wore a Mask of Righteousness
With both the Pharisees and Jesus each calling the other demonic, how could the common people know who to listen to? Should they heed a young man who does miracles and seems to love everybody, or the older leaders who have been accepted for years? The Pharisees made quite an effort to appear righteous to the common people—just like our leaders do today:
Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness (Luke 11:39).
And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God (Luke 16:15).
“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector” (Luke 18:11).
“But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments” (Matt 23:5).
“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. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt 23:25-28).
Nevertheless, these evil leaders had the people so convinced of their own righteousness, that they used themselves as the standard of whether or not an individual should believe Jesus:
Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed” (John 7:47-49).
Things have changed little since that day. Today, both state and church leaders frequently portray themselves as the wise ones whose opinions we should seek after. Indeed, most lawyers (which include nearly all judges and politicians) consider themselves the knowing elite and consider the masses, who do not know how to represent themselves at law, accursed.
Satanic Leaders Plotted to Make Christ Look Bad
These evil leaders went way beyond the normal human desire to be thought well of by everyone. They made a massive effort to invent schemes and lies to try to continue to make themselves look good and Jesus look bad in the eyes of the people. Note the following passages and maybe try to imagine modern day political leaders discussing how they will treat a righteous Christian leader.
Then they [the leaders] reviled him [the man born blind] and said, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. 29 “We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow [Jesus], we do not know where He is from.” 30 The man answered and said to them, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! 31 Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. 32 Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. 33 If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” 34 They answered and said to him, “You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they cast him out (John 9:28-34).
Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?” 24 But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: 25 “The baptism of John—where was it from? From heaven or from men?” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 “But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus and said, “We do not know.” And He said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things (Matt 21:23-27).
Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, … (Matt 22:15-16).
The Pharisees sent their disciples, who were for Jewish independence and against Roman Taxation with Herodians, who accepted Roman occupation and taxation. They figured that no matter what Jesus said, one of the parties would be highly offended by it. This was like sending Democrats and Republicans—or even patriots and revolutionaries—to work together. But that is not a problem for them—there were certainly Satanists in both organizations who were all too willing to work together against God. And so today, the true conflicts are often not between major political parties or church groups, but between good and evil people scattered throughout the various groups. We continue the account of this joint effort to trap Jesus in Luke’s Gospel. Notice how they flatter Jesus in an effort to appear righteous:
Keeping a close watch on him [Jesus], they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21 So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?” 25 “Caesar’s,” they replied. He said to them, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Luke 20:20-25, NIV).
Evil Leaders Actually Fear the People
Even though the evil leaders in the New Testament had great authority over the people and even the power to have Jesus killed, they still feared the people. They were utterly dependent upon their continual efforts to deceive the people. If the multitudes ever lost their ill-founded faith in those leaders, the leaders knew that it would be all over for them. They were even afraid of what the people would think if they spoke against John the Baptist:
And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’ “ — they feared the people, for all counted John [the Baptist] to have been a prophet indeed (Mark 11:31-32).
There are many other places where the Scripture talks about these evil leaders’ fear of the people:
And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching (Mark 11:18).
Luke 19:47 And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him, 48 and were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him.
Matt 21:45 Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them. But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet (Matt 21:45-46).
The Bible is very clear in showing that the stated goal of these Satanic leaders was to preserve their position of power. They cared absolutely nothing about what God really wanted or what would be good for the people..
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 11:47-48).
Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. 5 “But not during the Feast,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people” (Matt 26:3-5).
For he [Pilate] knew that they [the Jewish leaders] had handed Him over because of envy (Matt 27:18).
Only Solution for Satanic Men: Kill Jesus
Sometimes, the Jewish leaders are viewed as rather passive men who simply grumbled about Jesus doctrine for three years of his ministry, and then on the spur of the moment decided to kill Him when they had a chance. The truth is, they were trying to kill Him from the beginning. In addition to Herod’s attempt to kill Jesus when He was a baby and the final successful plot to kill Him the Bible records at least 11 separate attempts to kill Jesus. For space, we will not print all of the scripture, but they make an excellent study: Matthew 12:14/Mark 3:6/Luke 6:11 (same incident), Luke 13:31 (where the Pharisees claim Herod wants to kill Him. Are they telling the truth or just trying to threaten Him?), Mark 11:18; Luke 19:47 (same incident); John 5:16, 18; 7:1, 19, 25; 8:37, 40, 59; 10:31; 11:53.
It would be good for followers of Jesus to meditate on these scriptures. Would you continue your ministry if your life—or the life of its leader was threatened? Would you trust God to preserve you, or to give you the courage to die faithfully as those in Hebrews 11? What if the charges against you or your leader were not “being a Christian”, but treason, blasphemy, tax evasion or some other false charge? Would you simply stay away from a ministry with a bad reputation like that?
Even today, the world is full of well-financed governments and organizations of all kinds, that manage to buy good press and make themselves look good. These people often praise the men of the Bible and founding fathers of our nation, but they do not do what they did. Jesus addressed that issue head on:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 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.’ 31 Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? 34 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, 35 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. 36 “Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation (Matt 23:29-36).
The Most Important Passover
With all of the above background about the evil Jewish leaders, we can clearly understand what happened at Jesus’ crucifixion. Whether you have never read Luke’s account, or read it a hundred times, we hope you will read at least these excerpts again.
Luke 22:1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. 2 And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people.
Luke 22:66 As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council, saying, 67 “If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will by no means believe. 68 “And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go.
2 And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.”… 5 But they were the more fierce, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place.”… 10 And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him…. 13 Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, 14 said to them, “You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; 15 “no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him. 16 “I will therefore chastise Him and release Him” 17 (for it was necessary for him to release one to them at the feast). 18 And they all cried out at once, saying, “Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas” — 19 who had been thrown into prison for a certain rebellion made in the city, and for murder. 20 Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them. 21 But they shouted, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” 22 Then he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.” 23 But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed. 24 So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested (Luke 23:2,5,10,13-24)..
The purpose of human justice systems is to 1) apprehend people who appear to do evil, 2) to charge them with a crime, 3) to give them a fair trial, and 4) to punish them if they are convicted. These evil Satanic leaders ran the process exactly backwards: they started by knowing that they 4) wanted to kill (punish) Jesus, so they 3) brought Him to trial illegally at night, then they 2) look for something to charge Him with that they could “make stick”, and 1) forgot about the fact He had never done any evil that would have justified His apprehension to begin with. And so the leaders of our day, when they find someone opposing them, sometimes reach into their database of millions of laws, and find something upon which they can “get a conviction”—whether the victim has done anything wrong or not.
But notice Jesus. Even while He was struggling, He stopped to talk to some who believed on Him and tell them of things to happen in the future:
And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him. 28 But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 “For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ 30 “Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” ‘ 31 “For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?” 32 There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death (Luke 23:27-32).
The same language about people asking the mountains to fall on them is used when Christ returns in power in Revelation 6:16.
And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left…. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit’ “ (Luke 23:33,45-46)
He Is Risen!
But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (Matt 28:5-6).
So what do Satanic leaders do when their plots fail and their efforts to kill their enemies turn into a great blessing for all mankind? The same thing that they do today. Make a new plan, tell some lies, bribe some key people, and keep on going!
When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ 14 “And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day (Matt 28:12-15).
It exceeds the scope of this article to try to identify all or even any of the people today who are Satanic leaders masquerading as righteous leaders. The point is to help every Christian realize that Satan is alive and well and working in the same manner in which he worked back at that time.
It is amazing how many people will insist that their government or their church denomination, though a little wasteful and sinful, is basically fair and that in general very few people are punished unjustly. But when you ask them to take a lawful Christian stand against anything wrong in their government or church, they will decline—because they would not want anything bad to happen to themselves. This is, in itself, an admission that their government or church is unacceptably corrupt, if they know that it will punish those who seek to lawfully correct its excesses.
Satan loves to take the unquestioning loyalty and respect that God commands for himself, and transfer it to human governments and churches. God never set up any human office, secular or spiritual, that stands between Him and mankind. We should never let them stand as idols in His place.
Not Ignorant of Satan’s Devices
…lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices (2Cor 2:11).
Jesus spent a lot of time pointing out the evil taught by the leaders of his day—which many of the people mistook for good. Do not we expect evil and deception to be even greater at the time of the end? Today, we need to know and teach people that Satan is very evil and we should not blindly trust those who are in secular or religious authority. Jesus gave a stern warning of what happens to people who are actually deceived by this evil:
“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 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” (Matt 23:13,15).
One can count on one’s fingers the number of people who control all of the major news and entertainment media. Virtually none of our modern-day politicians are known for truthfulness or actually even try to implement the agenda they ran on. During this presidential campaign, there are numerous speeches and writings decrying how our nation was deceived into going to war—that there were not weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that Saddam had little to do with the Twin Towers destruction. This evidence was more than available on the Internet and in other publications in 2003 before we went to war. See the article, The Hypocrisy of Attacking Iraq, Jan-Feb 2003 Servants’ News. If a small-time writer such as myself can find it, why weren’t our politicians and big media outlets discovering it? The answers are multiple, but oil profits, and being a “team player” with powerful big government and big business is a lot of it.
Jesus frequently called the leaders of his day “hypocrites”—eight times in Matthew 23. In English, this means a person who “says one thing and does another”. But the Greek implies more than that. The Greek hupokrites means an “actor”—in the same sense as we have actors today. This means that their deceptions are premeditated—that they plan and think out what they will say in order to convince others that they are someone who they are not. The leaders of Jesus day planned how to talk, act, keep their extra-biblical ordinances, and many other things to convince people they were righteous—all the while they were plotting Jesus’ death. Do we think our leaders, today, are not capable of delivering a stirring speech about helping mankind, while they are planning the deaths of many?
We need to realize that there are many people who do not see these problems—who blindly believe their leaders. We need to explain the problems to them like Christ Jesus did, and then explain that faith in God is the only answer, like the apostles did. We need to warn those who go along with these evil schemes, because it is easy and/or profitable, that judgment for their actions will come.
In his very last teaching in the Bible, Christ gave four categories that people would be in near his return. This verse apparently says that there will be a time when it is too late to change, but judgment would be sure:
“He who is [U] unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is [F] filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is [R] righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is [H] holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Rev 22:11-12).
These four categories address the inner spirit of people, whereas the 10 classes of the people of the Passover are based more upon the outward actions. God can tell the difference between a primarily righteous person who is sinning under extreme pressure from one who is basically unrighteous. So he can also tell the difference between a righteous person and an unrighteous one who is “being good” to get what he wants. This verse probably mentions the unjust first because there are the most of them. The filthy correspond to the Satanic people mentioned above. The righteous are people who basically want to do good, and may or may not be Christians, but they have not let God do what is necessary to make them into the Holy—the overcomers (Rev 2-3) in the first resurrection (1Th 4:16-17; Rev 20:4-6)
The 10 categories of the People of the Passover are summarized, below, with the corresponding letter(s) of the four-point list in Revelation 22:11.
Ten Types of People of the Passover
U=Unjust F=Filthy R=Righteous H=Holy (Rev 22:11)
1. Jesus: A Good Man Who Served Others, but Who Was Falsely Accused and Condemned [H]
2. Righteous Leaders [H or R]
3. The Courageous Believers [H or R]
4. Believers Needing to Be Filled with the Spirit [R]
5. Secular Officials with Some Conscience [R]
6. The Unthinking Masses [U or R]
7. Generally Just Leaders Who Yield to Pressure [U or R]
8. Unjust Leaders that Use Their Power Capriciously [U]
9. Evil Men Willing to Make Others Suffer for Them [U or F]
10. Satanic Leaders Who Carefully Craft Plans to Destroy Good to Further Their Evil [F]
Victory in Christ
From Jesus Christ Himself to struggling people to evil Satanic leaders, we have studied the types of the people of the Passover. We need to push to the top of the list—letting our Lord and Savior do His work in us. It is all too easy to drop down into #4, the Believers Needing to Be Filled with the Spirit or even #6, the Unthinking Masses. This writer believes that is where the majority of professing Christians are today.
While few people reading this article would be “type #10” Satanic Leaders, we as Christians will certainly encounter them—either in our governments and churches or in our personal ministries. The more we do for God, the more Satan would like to stop us (Luke 12:31-32). Even though Satan goes about as a roaring lion (1Pet 5:8), he has to run when he is resisted (Jms 4:7-8).
And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen (Rom 16:20).
The fact that there are millions of very evil, slightly evil or simply weak people in this world is no threat to the promises and power of God. What would you do if you were trying to reach someone with the gospel, maybe a “type #5” secular leader with some conscience, but that leader had an assistant who is a Satanic “type #10”? This is what the Apostle Paul did:
Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus, 7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? 11 “And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.” And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord (Acts 13:6-12).
Our initial reaction might be: God might have done that for the Apostle Paul, but I’m not sure He would do that for me. But we should also ask ourselves, “Have I ever been in a situation where I was doing the work of God and it was so dangerous that I had to rely upon Him for protection?” It is not our own strength that does the protecting.
And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God (2Cor 3:4-5),
I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phlp 4:12-13).
Our hope is in God and we should grow in our reliance upon Him. It will not be our church group, our doctrines, our friends or religious rituals that make us right with God. We must turn every aspect over to Him—from our daily routine to our long-range life plans.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1Cor 15:57-58). &