Most adults have grasped the fact that lies abound. Jesus was not warning against liars as such but against declarers of lies. That narrows the field a little. Were there people alive in Jesus’ day who were declaring lies? To be able to make declarations at all, one needs to be in a position of some authority and leadership.
Who then, in Jesus’ day, were the lying leaders who looked like sheep but were ravenous wolves?
Herod Antipas was one. At his black-tie birthday dinner party he was enthralled with a dancing girl and proclaimed that he would give her whatever she wished – even half of his kingdom. She asked that a particular righteous man be killed. Because of his proclamation – and his dinner guests – he was happy to be a murderer.
Another was Pontius Pilate, Governor of Judea. He proclaimed repeatedly that Jesus was innocent of the crimes of which he was falsely accused. But Pilate happily delivered Jesus over to the cruelest execution that Rome had at that time devised for the worst criminals.
A third was Caiaphas, the High Priest of the Jerusalem Temple. He proclaimed that it was a good idea for one innocent good man to be murdered if that would save the nation and allow him to continue to be in leadership. Then he carried out that decision – Jesus was the man.
Has anything changed in our world? Are there any folk around who are present-day declarers of lies? Or present-day lying proclaimers?
Who are they?
Thankfully, Jesus made that abundantly clear – in those days and for us as well – exactly how to identify these leaders who need carefully to be watched. Their fruits.