As has been obvious, I’m very impressed by Jesus. He blows me over time and again.
This time he says to the crowd, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘it’s going to be hot,’ and it is.” To me his point that because we learn a certain consistency in the cause-and-effect cycle, we can become at least minimally competent at predicting the future as it comes to observing certain indicators (signs) and interpreting them with a modicum of accuracy—weather, as an example. We all learn to do this, not only with our environment, but also with elemental circumstances, and even with people.
But then he blows ’em away like the hot scirocco wind: “Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?” Jesus sees the heart, and he strikes at it. It makes them hypocrites because with their knowledge of the Scriptures and their knowledge of God, if it were real to them, they would be able to interpret this present time. The fact that they can’t shows them to be posers, fakers, and hypocrites.
For someone who lives on the earth, it becomes very easy and almost second nature to be able to see cause-and-effect relationships in a somewhat predictive way. So also it is for someone who genuinely lives in the Spirit. We are much more able to notice the signs and be able to interpret them. We see the unrest of society, the decisions of leaders, and trends in culture all from a Scriptural vantage point, and we interpret them according to Biblical truths. It’s quite obvious that those in the world cannot do this.
Jesus sees an obvious disconnect where there should obviously not be one. With the training they’ve had, the opportunities to connect with God, and the insight they claim, if their relationship with God had just a mustard seed of reality, they would be able to do this. Their spiritual blindness is telling, and he calls them on it. Why? They’re the LEADERS.
“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” He rightfully expects them to have some degree of self-awareness. If they had an ounce of true spiritual insight instead of complete blindness, Jesus’ teaching would cut them to the core. His teaching would waken their stirring souls and bring them to new levels of knowledge, if not at least curiosity. Their complete disconnect with his teachings and the Life that he is, that they claim is inside of them, is ripe for rebuke. Yet notice that Jesus, in his gentle way, is still trying to lead them to understanding. As you are walking along the path of life, you, given your situation in life, should be able to notice the spiritual signs. But if you’re not able to do that, you should at least be able to pick up on the warning signs when they are right in front of your eyes. Jesus is saying, “Here I am right next to you, speaking in clear language, telling you the bridge is out on the road ahead of you. If you won’t turn to me because you recognize the truth of my teaching, at the very least hear the warning and turn away from danger. Hello? Hello? Are you hearing me?”
“I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” There is no excuse for those who have been given every opportunity. They know the Scriptures, they have been taught about God, they have met Jesus, they have heard what he has to say, they have been taught the clear truth, they have been warned of the dangers, and they have been given every fair chance to respond. For them, a lack of proper response is totally inexcusable, unjustifiable, and there is nothing more that Jesus, or anyone, can do. They will be held accountable for all of it and their punishment will be unmitigated.