Last time I wrote, I finished by saying that Jesus had to react so strongly to Peter’s rebuke (accusation?) at Jesus’s telling to the disciples that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again because this rebuke/accusation from Peter (You’ve got the wrong idea of what it means to be Messiah Jesus!) had the potential to put self-doubt in the mind of Jesus. And yes, Jesus could suffer from the temptation to self-doubt. To doubt oneself is a very human thing to do, and Jesus was very human of very human….and therefore subject to all the temptations we humans suffer with.
Was Jesus tempted with self doubt? I don’t know the answer to that question for sure, but it’s certainly possible. And I do know this – everybody doubted Jesus. And I do mean everybody. Think about the struggle this would cause for you and I.
Think about the struggle Jesus must have had with this. He was doubted by the chief priests, the scribes and the elders. Did this affect him? I don’t know, but they were the authorities, the scholars, the theologians, and they were saying Jesus, you’re vision is wrong. Did this induce any self doubt? I don’t know, maybe not. We’ll say that no, it didn’t.
Jesus was doubted by his own disciples. That’s got to hurt. He was doubted by his own brothers – “For not even his brothers believed in him.” John 7:5 ESV. Even worse than that, Jesus’ own mother doubted him. “And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”” Mark 3:21 ESV. We read this and chuckle, but there’s nothing funny going on. This is a family intervention. Mary gets James and Joses and Judas and Simon, Jesus’ four brothers, maybe some of his sisters, and says to them “Jesus is mentally unstable. Your older brother is mentally unstable. He’s got these ideas and they’re just going to get him killed. We’ve got to intervene.” And they go to seize him because they think Jesus is suffering a mental breakdown.
Think I’m reading too much into this? Maybe. But let’s skip 10 verses later, and what does it say? “And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.“” Mark 3:31-35 ESV. We like to spiritualize this, I would say we over-spiritualize it. This is a serious family situation. Jesus is with a group of disciples, they had just tried a family intervention and they are coming to try again. Mom and the brothers send word in to Jesus that they are looking for him, and Jesus says what? “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Hmmmmpht. My brothers and my mother??!! These people that are hearing the word of God and doing it, these are my mother and brothers! Ok, when your mom calls you, just say “Who is my mother”, and let me know how that works out for you. This is a very tense family situation.
They don’t believe in him. They love him, but they don’t believe in him. They don’t believe he can go about being Messiah and live the Sermon on the Mount at the same time. He has this idea, somehow, that he’s going to liberate Israel and bring about the kingdom of God, yet not kill anybody!! Turn the other cheek and bring the kingdom of God? That’ll never work. That’ll just get you killed Jesus….and that’ll be the end of that.
Know what’s really heartbreaking, when you think about it?? Jesus went to the cross with NOBODY believing in him. They loved him, yes, but they did not believe in him. James loved him, John loved him, Peter loved him. Other disciples loved him. Judas, maybe not. Mary Magdalene loved him, his mother loved him. Yes they loved him. But they did not believe in him. They believed Jesus had missed it. He’d had the potential to be Messiah, he coulda been Messiah. But he clung to his lofty ideals, and now the whole thing is falling apart, and just like they said he went and got himself killed. And in the eyes of those whom Jesus most cared about, he was dying as a failure. Please try to imagine how hard that must have been…to go through all that with nobody believing in him. That’s why in the Garden of Gethsemane an angel had to come and strengthen him. He had to have a direct message from the father. You’re doing the right thing. Don’t give way to self doubt now. Don’t let those negative people and comments get through to your psyche and cripple you. Stay the course.
When people get into their head that messiah, Christ, is to be a certain way, it’s almost impossible to change it. If you try to change their idea of Christ, you will be subject to accusation. Even Jesus did not succeed in changing people’s understanding of what it means to be Christ until after his resurrection. They just could not accept, and their response was to do what Peter did, and accuse him of making a mistake.
When we begin to discover Christ in a deeper way, when we begin talk about Jesus in a different way, when we take the American varnish off of Jesus and show people that Jesus is not an American committed to the American dream and our superpower status, and that in fact the American way and the Jesus way are not the same way but are often at odds with one another, people might say all kinds of things about you. Just like his own countrymen said all kinds of thing about Jesus for showing that God was not just God for the Jews, but for Gentiles and the whole world as well.
But it was true. It’s still true. We need to come to see Jesus as he is, Christ for all, not just a nationalized Christ, the American Jesus. But this messes with peoples understanding of Christ and who Christ is. When we begin to rub that red white and blue varnish off of Jesus, people will not like it. People are very comfortable with that red white and blue varnish, start rubbing that off and people will accuse you of all kinds of things. Start rubbing that off, there will be star spangled trouble.
If you get accused, though, you can’t lash out. If you lash out, it just fuels the Satan, It gets worse and worse and turns into a hurricane. You forgive. You absorb the blow and forgive. Father forgive them because they don’t know what they do. If possible, you try to help them see what they are doing. But what you cannot do is let the accusation get into your head and become self doubt. Because what happens is you take the accusation up and begin to practice self accusation. You become your own Satan in your own head, and you go to hell inside your own head. Anybody else know about this? You become subject to unjust accusation, but you begin to take it up against yourself. You begin to accuse yourself. You idiot, you’re stupid. What in the world are you doing? Am I the only one?
It will begin to flood you with self doubt, you will be paralyzed, things will spiral out of control. We can’t lash out, but we also cannot afford to allow these accusations to lodge in our head and fill us with self doubt. How many if you have ever been the victim of unjust accusation? Might go all the way back to when you were five years old. Maybe your dad or your mom told you you idiot. You’re no good, you’ll never amount to anything. That was unjust. Nobody should ever say that to anybody, especially a child. Rationally you know it was unjust, not right, yet forty years later it’s still lodged in you. So now you take up against yourself. You say to yourself, you’re no good, you’ll never amount to anything. Maybe it was a parent, a brother, a friend, maybe it was an enemy. Maybe a boss, could be anybody. You’ve begun to be victimized by unjust accusation but it’s gotten into your head. And you need to pray like this – “Lord, give me the strength to be strong and true, because lord when the devil gets in my head I’m so blue…”. (From an Irish folk song…)
Never forget that the spirit of accusation is the spirit of Satan. It’s the un-holy spirit. The opposite of this is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of advocacy. God says “I love you. I’m for you. I’m on your side. You’re going to make it.” You’re ok, and when you’re not ok it’s ok not to be ok. Bring it to the Holy Spirit, to your brothers and sisters who do the will of God and lift you up.