It’s Wednesday. The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees have relentlessly tried to discredit Jesus. They look for any misstep, any careless word that they can use against him. Time and time again Jesus confounds them, turning their own scenarios, their own logic back on them—but always looking to the heart of God to do so, always looking for ways to give others worth and value as sons and daughters of God.
But now, it was time to do more than escape their traps. Now it was time to engage them head on. As Jesus spoke to the crowd, within the full hearing of those jealous critics who sought to destroy him, he didn’t pull any punches as called them out. He called the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees hypocrites, false teachers, wicked men who put on a good show of righteousness. He noted how they only cared for themselves and not for others who were also made in the image of God. He was disgusted by how they pursued being legalistically right, but knew nothing of true, God-honoring righteousness. He called them “a brood of vipers,” deadly and poisonous.
Make no mistake, though. Jesus didn’t call out the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees as some sort of “feel good” revenge. He wasn’t reducing himself to the same level of pettiness that they exuded, or trying to publically humiliate them just because they had tried so many times to do the same to him. He called them out because he wanted them to change; to become God’s emissaries of hope and healing and community for God’s people. Jesus was staking out the red flags to try and get them to turn from the path they were on and turn to where God was calling them.
Sometimes, in our marriages, we need someone who loves us to call us out. We need someone to plant the red flags, to tell us the truth, even if it is painful.
- If you continue down this path, you will bankrupt your family.
- You’re letting your extracurricular activities take too much time away from your marriage.
- You were too flirty with that other woman.
- You’re giving that other man the emotional investment you should only be giving to your husband.
- You’re letting your children rule the family.
- Your selfishness is driving your wife away.
- The way you are talking to your husband is humiliating him.
I don’t know what your situation might be, but typically, when others love us enough to call us out, the reaction is denial, justification, argument, or whatever else it takes to preserve the status quo. Why? Because change is often painful, even if it will lead to something better later. But without change, the relationship will suffer, and the marriage will continue down a path of self-destruction.
Don’t be stubborn, stuck, and dead-set on doing it your way no matter what. Heed the warning, endure the pain, and save the marriage. You are only “a brood of vipers” as long as you ignore the red flags and choose to continue to be “a brood of vipers.”
Links to the previous posts for Marriage and Holy Week: