Opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ has always existed. We learnt in an earlier reflection that gospel work is a spiritual battleground. If we are engaged in sharing the gospel it is wise to expect opposition rather than be surprised by it. Of course, we may receive opposition because of what we do and how we do it. If we break the law or are offensive then we will receive opposition and probably deserve it. If we use approaches that are clearly not suitable in the current culture then we can expect at best to be ignored. We see in Paul’s ministry how he adapted his approach without changing his message to make it acceptable to his listeners. If we experience hostility to the gospel it may be directed at the message but it may also be directed at ourselves personally. We can take comfort then that in some way we share Jesus’ experience. When James and John wanted Jesus to promise that they could sit on either side of him in glory, Jesus’ answer was can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptised with the baptism he experienced? Mark 10.39 Jesus was referring to his own imminent crucifixion.
Mark 3 records four different ways Jesus was subject to opposition.
The Pharisees plotted to have him killed. (v 6)
The public were frequently more interested in miracles than his teaching. (vv 9-10)
Judas Iscariot, one of his closest allies was destined to betray him. (v 19)
He was considered spiritually evil by religious leaders. (v 22)
In the face of opposition Jesus continued to teach God’s word. ‘With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.’ Mark 4.33
Despite the opposition God’s word often produces dramatic results. ‘When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him.’ Mark 3.8 Later it is recorded, ‘Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat.’ Mark 3.20 Later again the crowd gathered around Jesus so much that his own family became anxious about his popularity. Mark 3.32
If then you find yourself involved in opposition either because you are known to be a follower of Jesus or engaged in sharing his word, you have the promise of the Holy Spirit being with you. ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’ Acts 1.8
If you face difficulties because of your faith do you take time to withdraw and be with Christ? Mark 3.13
Are you able with all humility to be faithful to the gospel? 1 Peter 3.14-15
At The Cross – Chris Tomlin