Jesus said, “Whoever says [to his brother], `You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire’” (Matt. 5:22). Yet He Himself said to the scribes and Pharisees, “Fools and blind!” (Matt. 23:17) The Apostle Paul, following suit, said, “O foolish Galatians” (Gal. 3:1; cf. 1 Cor. 15:36).
Matthew 23:1 - 39
KJV - 1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples. 2 Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
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Jesus was speaking of one person relating to another person as a brother or sister (that is, as an equal), without the authority to pass such a judgment. By contrast, when addressing the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus was speaking as God Incarnate. Similarly, Paul was speaking by direct inspiration of God the Holy Spirit.
Jesus was telling us as brothers not to call one another a fool (Matthew 5:22), in a technical sense. God had said, "The fool has said in his heart, 'there is no God.'" (Psalm 14:1) So, technically speaking, calling your brother a fool is the same thing as calling him an unbeliever. That is serious. You don't want to do that. I mean, would you want to be called an unbeliever? If that happens, Jesus said there would be consequences! Only God can call a person a fool, legitimately. God can do this because He knows what is in men's hearts (John 2:25). And He directs His inspired authors of Scripture, such as Paul, to do the same in Galatians and in 1 Corinthians.
If you pay particular attention to all of the words of Christ, He appears to personally 'contradict' every word He ever spoke, not just the divine directive about calling anyone a 'fool.' Most people 'sanitize' the scriptures while they read, or even favor translations that intentionally 'muddle' the otherwise glaring contradictions. Jesus had to LEGALLY and PERFECTLY obey Torah in order to be our propitiation and Redeemer, so how could He allow a woman caught in adultery go unpunished, permit His disciples to violate rabbinical law by 'working' and eating freshly plucked grain on the Sabbath? How could He publicly call some people 'swine and dogs' (Matthew 7:6) to cap off an entire [and now very famous] passage beginning with 'judge not or you will be judged'? Beginning at age twelve, He even openly 'dishonored' His parents by intentionally wandering off for three days in Jerusalem at the busiest time of the year. His answer to his mother's impassioned scolding reveals something important about all of this: “Why is it that you were searching for Me? Did you not know that I had to be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). He said something similar after leaving his mother and siblings outside in a throng of people trying to enter a home to see Him: "And His mother and brothers came to Him, and they were unable to get to Him because of the crowd. And it was reported to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wishing to see You." But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” (Luke 8:19-21). Rather than 'sanitize,' Jesus is clearly asking us to embrace these contradictions. Why? He offers us a clue by calling the treasures of GOD 'pearls,' even while He warns us not to allow access to them by the 'swine and dogs.' Pearls are actually formed by a strange contradiction. The sea oyster is conflicted throughout its entire life by opposing instincts, driven by the need to 'open up' and receive nutrients to live, while also driven by an instinct to remain 'closed' for safety and basic survival. The 'pearl' forms in response to being 'vexed' by sand, trapped food and other irritation getting through its 'filter' after opening. In human terms, the oysters with the best pearls were the most 'courageous,' opening and risking everything most often, while also being 'meek' enough to avoid injury or death--- a very narrow path. Jesus tells us that He is the 'Narrow Path' to life. People walk right past this Path without even realizing it, pushed back and forth across it by forces offering to resolve life's contradictions and vexations for them. Some offering apparent 'safety' from dangers and others offering apparent 'freedom' from isolation. Both are part of the same 'broad road to destruction,' (Matthew 7:13). So when we read the Lord's words, we must bear in mind that there is a 'pearl' to be found and that it comes from allowing ourselves to be 'vexed' while also trusting only GOD as we 'filter.' Scripture plainly tells us that there is ALWAYS a 'way of escape' (1 Corinthians 10:13). That means that the 'Narrow Path' Himself hasn't moved, changed or somehow been 'upgraded.' "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8). So get busy both calling people fools and not calling them fools. Having trouble getting started? That's the entire point. This is about you and your 'Father.' It is scary knowing that the same surface actions can be leading us either to heaven or hell. It is less scary when we realize why: "To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled." (Titus 1:15). "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruits, without doubting, without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." (James 3:17-18).
There is so much evidence for the existence of God in the wonderful and expansive creation that surrounds us and in the prophetic holy scripture. Creation is so incredibly designed so to propose that it happened by chance is a foolish statement confirmed by scripture. Pharisees and Sadducees experienced Christ’s remarkable miracles and truths firsthand, yet scoffed at Jesus and the absolute truths that He proclaimed. No wonder Jesus called them fools and rightly condemned them. In contrast, as we are all sinners, we cannot label other humans fools because we do not have a full understanding of the truths of another’s circumstances. We can, however, judge someone’s actions as appearing foolish with our limited knowledge. As sinners we have a muddied perception of truth. Our sole guardian of absolute truth is the Holy Bible. Nonetheless this doesn’t give us carte blanche to call our fellow humans fools.
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