Becoming Scrupulous for God’s Perfection
As Jesus was finishing teaching the Sermon on the Mount he told his disciples about the need to love ones enemies. His emphasis centered on the Old Testament Psalm 139 “If only you would destroy the wicked, O God, and the bloodthirsty would depart from me! Deceitfully they invoke your name; your foes swear faithless oaths. Do I not hate, Lord, those who hate you? Those who rise against you, do I not loathe? With fierce hatred I hate them. enemies I count as my own.” (Psalm 139: 19-22).
Following the Sermon on the Mount Jesus corrects the disciples’ quest about retaliation on others;
“You have heard that it was said; “ you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,” But I say to you love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” “For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?” “Do not tax collectors do the same?” “And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that?” Do not the pagans do the same?” “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
(Mt. 5: 43-48).
There is no question that when Jesus taught as here it was done with a very scrupulous intent. This teaching erased all doubt that his teaching was the most critical and to the point. However, a lot of scrutiny was seen by the scribes and pharisees throughout his ministry. From John’s Gospel, in the prologue, the very scrutiny we see “He came to his own, but his people did not accept him.” (Jn. 1: 11).
“Jesus went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman came out and called out, have pity on me, Lord Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” Jesus answered in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Apparently God’s chosen people belonged to Israel and Moses was not sent to Greeks or other nations but to the descendants of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob (called Israel). The remnants of his children would be led to the promised land to dwell forever and he would protect them. The promise of the Father would culminate in His Son Jesus Christ.
When we speak of one in charge being scrupulous in anything, it announces that the truth is beyond questioning, the words spoken are without scrutiny. There was a struggle to convince the scribes and pharisees that they were the remnant Jesus came to redeem. However, Jesus knew from their response or lack of one proved that they weren’t ready to accept God’s Son as the presence of God in their midst.
That day Jesus entered Jerusalem and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace-but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Lk. 19: 41 44).
“But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by man’s decision but of God.” (Jn. 1: 12 -13).
“Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet, even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”
(Mt. 21: 31 b - 32).
“To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, He is possessed by a demon. The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners, But wisdom is vindicated by her works.? (Mt. 11: 16 -19).
The scrutiny of those who rejected Jesus are now the recipients of all the scrupulosity of the righteous.
“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s Son, full of grace and truth.” (Jn. 1: 14).
Ralph B. Hathaway, God’s scrupulous scrutiny!