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Why would Jesus descend into bitter arguments with Jewish leaders? It's not very peaceful of him.


Thank you for your question about the actions of Jesus. In both Matthew 23:29-36 and John 8:39-45, Jesus is pointing out in basic, straightforward language what he sees in the Pharisees and scribes. 

In John 8:39-45, the religious elders claim to be in made right with God but they cannot see, or refuse to see, that Jesus came from God. If they really knew God and His character, they would recognise it in Jesus, but they don’t. Jesus might be using ‘shock tactics’ to point out their own hypocrisies. Those who are in darkness hate the light (John 3:20). The devil uses lies and other tactics to distract people from God’s love. Whether they intended to or not, the Jewish leaders were leading people away from salvation by imposing rules and laws on the people that distracted from the truth of the gospel – in Matthew 23 Jesus talks about how the Pharisees love to be seen as holy, but their deeds are empty and their hearts are dead – they are not made right with God, and can only be made right through what he has been telling them, but they refuse to listen and believe, and those who do believe don’t step up and admit it because they don’t want to be thrown out of the synagogue (John 12:42).

Jesus doesn’t always use such blunt and provocative words to make his point, but I think the conversation had probably reached the point where this was necessary. He was not afraid of telling it like it was, because he understood the importance of the task he had to complete and was willing to challenge those who were veiling the truth.

There are many instances in the Bible where Jesus patiently and lovingly explained the good news to people around him (for example, the Samarian woman in John 4:7-30; the disabled person at the pool of Bethesda in John 5:1-9). He was also patient on other occasions when speaking to the Pharisees.

The statements Jesus uses apply to everyone throughout history who has diverged, or led others to diverge from the gospel. We often need to hear blunt truth to realise something is wrong; this is a loving act. It is hard to speak the truth; Jesus is loving these people. If I knew something was wrong with you, and I tried to warn you gently at first, but you did not listen, eventually I would have to shout. If I did not love you I maybe would not tell you. If you don’t know Jesus and would like to find out more about what he has done for you, then please watch the video on the main part of our site:

I believe this also shows that Jesus is fully human. He is fully God and fully man, yet here we see the human side of Jesus. He was perfect and never did wrong but was still able to use strong language in hope of correcting people's wrongdoings. 

If you have any more questions on this topic, why not speak to a Christian leader or another trusted church individual regarding your question. I know they would be delighted to further answer you as well as offer prayer and support as you continue your spiritual journey:

Please feel free to use our Interactive Answer Matrix for any other questions you have. Our helpful staff are praying for you and waiting to try and answer to you from the Bible, and will be delighted to tell you more about Jesus Christ the Lord, the Saviour of the world.

*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise

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