This morning I read something very interesting:
Ungodly men by the their words and deeds summoned death;
considering him a friend, they pined away,
and they made a covenant with him,
because they are fit to belong to his party.
For they reasoned among themselves,
“Short and sorrowful is our life,
and there is no remedy when a man comes to his end,
and no one has been known to return from Hades…
…Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,
because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions;
he reproaches us for sins against the law,
and accuses us of sins against our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God,
and calls himself a child of the Lord.
He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;
the very sight of him is a burden to us,
because his manner of life is unlike that of others,
and his ways are strange.
We are considered by him as something base,
and he avoids our ways as unclean;
he calls the last end of the righteous happy,
and boasts that God is his father!
Let us see if his words are true,
and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;
for if the righteous man is God’s son, he will help him,
and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.
Let us test him with insult and torture,
that we may find out how gentle he is,
and make trial of his forbearance.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death,
for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”
Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray,
for their wickedness blinded them,
and they did not know the secret purposes of God,
nor the hope for the wages of holiness,
nor discern the prize for blameless souls.
This sounds like a soliloquy by the Pharisees and Chief Priests who sought to have Jesus killed, doesn’t it? There are so many clues – anger at the claim to be a child of God, anger at the rejection of their practices, anger at the rebuke for not following their own training, the testing to see if God really will deliver him (much like in Psalm 22), and on and on. And as such, it gives us a wonderful insight into their potential thought process, giving us ways to identify with them, realizing that evil is repulsed by righteousness – our sinful selves want to shy away from Jesus too.
But in fact the quote is from the apocryphal book, Wisdom of Solomon chapters 1 & 2. Like the book of Proverbs, it is a book largely focused on weighing the benefits of wisdom (making decisions in line with God’s will) against the follies of foolishness (rebelling against God’s will). The passage here quoted is a part that looks at how unrighteous people respond when they encounter righteous people. And yet, like so much of the Old Testament, it carries a profound second meaning in terms of foretelling how the unrighteous people around Jesus would respond to him.
I’m not necessarily trying to put forth the conclusion that the Apocrypha is scripture. But there are parts of it that are scriptural, and some that are validly prophetic, and this is one such example.
So consider these ancient words of wisdom writers, and how the wicked react to the righteous. We all have the battle of righteousness vs. unrighteousness raging within us, so at any given time we can sympathize with both. Of course, we want to strive to identify with the righteous. But it is important that we don’t forget our unrighteousness at the same time, lest we fool ourselves into believing it isn’t there at all, and assume ourselves to be perfect. Thus, passages like this help reveal the murderous thoughts that can be found lurking in every sinful human heart, and remind us that we share the guilt for his death. After all, it is only with that acceptance of our guilt and need for a Savior that we can approach the Cross with penitent hearts to accept the mercy and forgiveness of God.