Over the course of the notorious feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys, more than 100 men, women and children from these families were killed. The irony was that no one could pinpoint the exact incident that started the long-standing dispute.
Some thought it was because the McCoys sympathized with the Union in the Civil War, while others thought it was over some stolen pigs. But in May 1976, Jim McCoy and Willis Hatfield, the oldest living members of the original families, shook hands at a public ceremony in which they dedicated a monument to those who died in the feud.
There are some people who just love to scrap. They like to fight and argue and get all worked up. It’s almost as though they’re not happy unless they’re feuding with someone.
Jesus didn’t waste his time with people like that. But he did take time with seeking sinners such as the woman at the well in Samaria, the tax collector Zacchaeus and the woman caught in the act of adultery. He took time, and lots of it, with people he knew were true seekers.
We find a fascinating passage in John’s gospel, which says, “Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people. No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart” (2:23–25 NLT).
Jesus never attempted to explain divine mysteries to people who were not genuine. On the other hand, if they came to him as serious inquirers and wanted to know truth, he would reveal it to them.
We find an example of this in chapter 20 of Luke, where the religious leaders approached Jesus in the Temple and demanded to know where his authority came from.
So, Jesus posed a question they couldn’t answer. Then he told a parable. And whenever Jesus shared a parable, there was a reason. He wasn’t wasting time; he was making a point. This particular story was about a vineyard being managed by tenant farmers.
At harvest time, the owner of the vineyard sent servants one by one to collect his share, but one after another returned beaten and empty-handed. Finally, the owner of the vineyard sent his son. The farmers, seeing an opportunity to eliminate the heir, murdered him.
Of the parables Jesus told, this probably was one of the easiest to interpret. Clearly the owner of the vineyard represented God the Father. The people who were supposed to manage the estate were the religious rulers. And the mistreated servants were the prophets whom God sent throughout history. Lastly, the son was Jesus himself.
Historically, this is exactly what happened. God placed Adam and Eve in a veritable paradise. But they ate the forbidden fruit, and sin entered the world. So, God established a way by which he could be approached through sacrifice. He gave the people commandments to keep, and they disobeyed the commandments.
Through the years, God sent prophet after prophet to help get the people back on track spiritually. But those prophets were despised, hated, tortured and killed. And when God sent his son, Jesus, they took him and crucified him.
Jesus was saying to these leaders, “Here’s what you’re all about. Here’s what you’ve done. And here’s what you’re about to do.”
Luke continued, “Watching for their opportunity, the leaders sent spies pretending to be honest men. They tried to get Jesus to say something that could be reported to the Roman governor so he would arrest Jesus” (20:20 NLT).
Notice Luke says they pretended to be honest men. There are a lot of people who do this today. At first, they come in open opposition. When that backfires, they change their tactics.
Have you ever had someone try to butter you up? Children are good at this when they want something from their parents. But flattery is really just a form of lying. The difference between gossip and flattery is that gossip involves saying behind a person’s back what you would never say to their face. Flattery, on the other hand, is saying to a person’s face what you would never say behind their back.
Jesus knew flattery when he saw it. Ironically, these men were inches from Heaven yet working for Hell.
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Sadly, there are people in the church today who pretend to be righteous when they really are not. After I first came to Christ, I was surprised to meet Christians who were trying to live in both worlds. I hadn’t been raised in the church. I was very empty from the life that I had been living and had pretty much gone out and experienced what the world has to offer. And I saw that it wasn’t what I was looking for.
When I heard about Jesus Christ, when I heard there was a God who loved me and would forgive my sins, I wanted to follow him. I was excited to discover what he had in store for me, and I wanted to read the Bible, go to church and grow spiritually.
Then I would meet people who were sort of living in two worlds. They were Christians, but they were attracted to sinful things. I would tell them, “I’ve been there. It’s empty. You have to believe me when I tell you that what you’re looking for is not in the things of the world.”
I don’t understand people who want to live in two worlds. Yet far too many are living in a spiritual no-man’s land today. If you want to live in sin, then go live in sin and experience everything this world has to offer. Drink the cup to the very depths and then reap the consequences of it, which will be an eternity in Hell. Or, completely commit your life to Jesus Christ, discover all that God has for you, and go to Heaven. But don’t try to live in two worlds. It is the most miserable and pathetic place to be.
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