What to do with enemies? We see Jesus’ response in Matthew 12.
The Jonah passage is background for the Matthew passage and I would recommend Will Ward’s blog, yesterday, for understanding Jonah.
Jesus encounters enemies, the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law, in this passage. In a sense he had made enemies for he insists on doing God’s will even in the face of opposition, which is precisely what he needs to do and should do to do God’s will.
By the time we arrive at Matthew 12:38-45 the Pharisees have already “went out an plotted how they might kill Jesus” (Matthew 12:14). Why would they do such a thing? Jesus and his disciples picked grain on the Sabbath to eat and then Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. He tells the Pharisees, “Therefore, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Their response is to plot to kill Jesus.
Immediately before our passage in Matthew Jesus heals a demon possessed man who was blind and mute. When the Pharisees hear about this they begin to say that Jesus is possessed and serving the prince of demons. In other words, they call, God’s son, Jesus a servant of Satan and then they demand that Jesus perform a sign for them.
Jesus does not mince words and informs the Pharisees that he will not perform signs for them but the only sign they will receive is his death and resurrection (as Jonah was in the belly of the whale). Then Jesus tells them right to their face that they are wicked. Nineveh, a godless country, repented when Jonah spoke to them. The Queen of the South, a non Jew, clearly saw and listened to the wisdom of Solomon. But these self-righteous, judgmental Pharisees can’t see or understand Jesus when he is right in their midst. Instead they condemn Jesus.
Jesus said, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). I would expect that Jesus did pray for the Pharisees and teachers of the law. In love he spoke the truth right to them when they were terribly wrong. And it led to the cross upon which he willingly died for all, even the Pharisees.
What to do with enemies? Jesus confronted them, spoke to them, prayed for them and loved them even unto death on the cross. Today, though it is exceedingly hard, let’s pray for our enemies, whomever they may be.