Scripture: Matthew 27:15-26
The June 17 anniversary of the massacre of the nine persons slain while attending Bible study at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina and the recent Jihadist massacre of 49 sisters and brothers of the LGBTQ community early Sunday morning June 12th at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida brought back to memory a reflection on giving up hatred.
Hatred has pervaded our public dialogue and presidential politics. Everybody has their share of haters. People will hate on you because of the clothes you wear, the color of your hair, the car you drive and where you reside. Everybody has their share of haters.
President Obama has haters. They hated on him because he refused to back down on healthcare reform, because he believed that healthcare was a right and not a privilege. They hated on him because he believed that all Americans should bear the burden of getting the country’s financial house in order, not just the poor and middle-class.
They hated on him for proposing sensible gun control legislation to prevent military style weapons to be sold to the general public and background checks for potentials purchasers. Everybody has their share of haters.
Even Jesus had his share of haters. The chief priest and elder in the text hated on Him with trumped-up charges of treason and inciting civil unrest. They gave Him a mock trial at night, arraigned Him the next morning and took Jesus to Pontius Pilate to be executed by the Roman government.
In verse 18, Pilate recognized that the chief priests and elders were hating on Jesus. Even Pilate’s wife knew that they were hating on Jesus. In verse 19, she tells Pilate “have nothing to do with this “just” man.
Matthew says in verse 20 that the chief priest and the elders “persuaded” the multitude to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. If you have any haters, then know that you are in good biblical company.
Haters hate on you not because you are “hateful,” but because you are “helpful.” They did not hate on Barabbas. Matthew says Barabbas was a “notable prisoner” (v.16). Luke says in chapter 23, verse 19 that Barabbas was in prison for sedition and murder. It was Barabbas, and not Jesus, who had been in sighting civil unrest and insurrection. Barabbas had been found guilty of murder. But, haters did not hate on Barabbas.
Haters hated on Jesus. Matthew says in Verse 19 that Jesus was a just man (V.19). Pilate says in Verse 24 that Jesus was an innocent man (V.24). Luke says in, was a faultless man (23:14). Being just, and innocent, and faultless will cause haters to hate on you.
Haters will hate on you because you are helpful. Jesus cleansed the lepers, made the blind see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, the dumb to talk. He fed the hungry, gave living water to the thirsty, healed the sick and raised the dead. Jesus was helpful and when you are helpful, haters will hate on you.
Haters will hate on you, but don’t let your haters make you hate. Don’t hate dem haters because haters don’t get away with their hating. Water cannot wash away innocent blood off the hands of haters. Innocent blood, v. 25 said, would fall on the hands of Jesus’ haters and the hands of their children.
Don’t hate dem haters because the same innocent blood that was on their hands is the same blood that can wash their hands – the blood of Jesus.
The Rev. Dr. Kelvin Calloway is the senior pastor of Bethel AME Church, 7900 South Western Avenue in Los Angeles.