“I do not care very much what men say of me, provided that God approves of me.” – St. Thomas More
“Be brave! Do not be led by what others think or say.” – St. John Bosco
“You snakes! You brood of vipers!” Jesus thundered, “You whitewashed tombs!”
His followers were aghast. Didn’t Jesus realize who he was speaking to? These were the scribes and Pharisees! They were learned and powerful, and they claimed the authority of Moses. And yet, here Jesus was excoriating them like common criminals! They had never seen him this angry. He was normally so patient and kind. What was going on?
But Jesus didn’t stop there. “How will you escape being damned to hell? You hypocrites, you blind men. Woe to you!”
The Boldness of Jesus
Does the angry Jesus startle you? Very often, Christians tend to focus on the meek and gentle Jesus, the Jesus with a kind smile and children in his lap. This isn’t wrong of course, for Jesus was humble and kind—he said so himself (Matt. 11:29). The meekness of Christ is a beautiful reality that we should imitate. But we cannot forget that the same Jesus also stood toe to toe with the most powerful men of his day, rebuking them with prophetic zeal, harsh words, and fire in his eyes. If we ignore this holy boldness of Christ, we will be left with a caricature, a Jesus of our own making.
Yes, Jesus was fearless, and his enemies knew it. He never adjusted his message to make it more palatable to his audience. In fact, Jesus preferred to let hundreds, even thousands of people abandon him rather than change or soften his message one little bit (see John 6). Popular opinion simply didn’t matter to him.
Jesus’ enemies admitted his fearlessness, ironically when they came to tempt him. “Master,” they said cringingly, “we know