How do you insult someone? Most dictionaries have definitions which are similar to this one, “When you speak to or treat someone with disrespect.” It seems to imply that you can only insult people who are alive. You can insult someone by treating them with disrespect. The disrespect might be seen in voicing an unfavourable opinion of the character of the person. The disrespect might also be seen in failing to respect and value what the person stands for. It could be ignoring or devaluing the achievements people have accomplished in life.
So can we insult Jesus? If we believe what the Bible tells us, the answer has to be “Yes!” for it shows that He alive in today’s world. He has risen from the dead and lives evermore. He may not normally be seen (though people of all nations and backgrounds through the ages testify that they have had visions of Him) but He has promised to be with His people when they gather in His name. He is alive and keeps everything else alive as well, for the Bible declares that He sustains this world that He Himself has made.
You insult someone when you take no notice of what they have said to you. Especially when that person has told you how to live a life that is full of meaning and purpose. You also insult people by failing to appreciate the significance of what they have done in life and what implications it had for you personally.
Well, how do we answer the question as to whether we have personally insulted Jesus? There are a number of questions that need to be answered as we look at this situation.
1). Was Jesus A Prophet?
There is no doubt that Jesus saw Himself as a messenger sent by God. There are over 50 verses in the Gospels where Jesus states that truth. We look at just a few of them from the four Gospels.
For example when Jesus was sending out His 12 disciples He told them to expect that some might accept their message and others would not. Those who did accept them by accepting their ministry would in fact be accepting Jesus who had sent them. Not only that but they would be accepting the Father who had sent Him into the world. A serious response was required from those who were going to hear a serious message from God Himself through their lips. Mat 10:40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.”
When His disciples were arguing among themselves about who was the greatest among them, Jesus took a child and put him into the midst of them saying, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” Mark 9:37. What was needed was humility, the sort of humility that honoured even a little child. Such was His attitude to children. Such indeed was the attitude of the Father who had sent Him.
Jesus explained His ministry in the synagogue in Capernaum as He read from the scroll offered to Him. After He had read it, He went on to interpret its meaning. Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” God had anointed Jesus by His Spirit to be His Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ. His ministry would be conducted under the anointing of God’s Holy Spirit. Under that anointing, all He said and all He did as God’s sent messenger would originate in God Himself. He taught this in John 14:10-11, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” His words came from the Father. Jesus spoke them out. His works were a demonstration of the Father working through Him as His chosen messenger.
So it appears that Jesus was certainly a messenger from God but was He a prophet? It appears that He saw Himself as a prophet. In Mat 13:57, when Jesus was being rejected by many in Nazareth, He said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his hometown and in his own household.” His own hometown and His own household had just failed to honour Him. John in his gospel recorded that Jesus left Samaria to go to Galilee. He added these words, John 4:44, “For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honour in his own hometown.” Jesus recognised that He was indeed a prophet sent from God. So did John.
This is further illustrated in Luke 13:32-33. Jesus was warned by some Pharisees that Herod was planning to kill Him. He told them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33 Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.” He WAS a prophet. He WOULD die in Jerusalem.
2). Did Others See Him As A Prophet?
There are a number of verses which indicate that Jesus was seen to be a prophet by His contemporaries. On one occasion the chief priests and Pharisees had been exposed to His teaching. They correctly assumed that He was speaking about them in His parables. Matthew adds, in Mat 21:46, “And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.” The perception of the general population was that He was a prophet.
When Jesus raised a widow’s only son from death, the onlookers were amazed and said, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” Lk 7:16. For them that could be the only explanation for such an outstanding miracle. Similarly when Jesus fed the 5000 those who witnessed the miracle concluded, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” Others were amazed at His teaching especially at the time of the last day of the feast. After He had taught, many of His hearers remarked, “This really is the Prophet.” Jn 7:40.
Later when a blind man was asked who it was that had healed him, he said, “He is a prophet.” Jn 9:17. Even at His death, the guards mocked Jesus, “Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?” Mat 26:67-68. It indicates that the concept of Jesus as a prophet was firmly established during His ministry.
In coming articles we will look in more detail at what it means for us today that Jesus is a prophet. And also at what challenges that truth presents for us in a world that largely ignores Him and is insulting Him as a living Person in a world that so much needs Him, His wisdom, His grace and His strength. As the title warns us, BEWARE OF INSULTING THE PROPHET JESUS! When we come to realise that He is not only a prophet, but also the Creator of this universe, the Sustainer who keeps it going, the Redeemer who came to give His life for the life of the world and ultimately will be the judge of all the peoples of the world, then He has to be taken seriously as a living Person today. Not to take Him seriously is to insult Him.
Blog No. 159. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Sunday 15th March 2015.