Seemingly every time he turned around, there they were, the Pharisees, that Jewish religious/political group that hounded Jesus at every turn. They were relentless, and in the end, they conspired to have Jesus put to death.
In the Gospels there are 89 references to the Pharisees (Matthew-31, Mark 12, Luke-27 and John 19) and nearly all of these do not speak of a comfy relationship; there are four references to the Pharisees as a “brood of vipers,” which helps you to define the type of relationship they had with regard to Jesus.
Yet there are three references found to Jesus having dinner with a Pharisee, all in the Gospel of Luke. This readiness to really have a meal with his enemies is indicative of Jesus’ readiness to love his enemies (Matthew 5:43-48).
If someone dislikes you, it is instinctive — seemingly a natural part of human nature — to dislike them back. Nonetheless, there we have it; Jesus going out of his way to along with his enemies. This is a message that we at Christ Embassy must come to understand.
This readiness to share a meal with those who despised him speaks volumes of Jesus’ desire for us to continue socializing with those with whom we disagree.
Anger often comes from a feeling of lonliness and isolation. If we feel disregarded, unappreciated, or ignored, we have a tendency to lash out. And if someone lashes out against us, we tend to respond in kind; we turn our backs on them, we add to the mutual sense of isolation that we so often experience. In this current area of political strife and division, amplified by mass communication and the Internet, it is — consequently — more necessary than ever to heed the call of Christ and actively encounter “our enemies.” Hatred only leads to more hatred. And as Gandhi so famously said: an eye-for-an-eye only ends up leaving the entire world blind.
This call to encounter our enemies isn’t limited to the example of Christ dining with the Pharisees’s; it extends to what Christ decided not to do.
With infinitely less effort than it takes me to snap my fingers, Jesus Christ, son of God, could have wiped the Pharisees from the surface of the earth. Not only this, he could have removed all memory of them.
As I said before, it is automatic, basic human nature to feel warranted in our hatred of “our enemies.” But let’s remember that Jesus Christ, son of the Lord, was killed by the Pharisees: and that he knew in advance when he sat down to dinner with them that this would happen, that his enemies would kill him in the most agonizing fashion possible. So, as we can the, the person who perhaps most in history had a justification for feeling hatred for his foes (who he knew would murder him), did not lash out at all. Yes, he chided them for their errors in theology, but he also sat down and broke bread with them. He gave a living example of mercifulness to us. Instead of obliterating the Pharisees, Christ shared a meal with them, and finally died for them.
Jesus shows us that with “our enemies”, sharing a meal isn’t the limitation of how far we may be asked to go — sometimes we may need to go much further, even up to the gates of death, in the name of the Lord, and in the name of putting a halt to unending spirals of hatred. This is truly doing the Lord’s work, and is an example we shoud endeavor to live up to.