Now the men who were holding Jesus began to mock him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” They kept heaping many other insults on him.
When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council. They said, “If you are the Messiah, tell us.” He replied, “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” All of them asked, “Are you, then, the Son of God?” He said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!”
Mark the difference between how the Pharisees and their followers treat Jesus now compared to in public. Before they were moderately respectful, if never kind, and feared His power to speak enough that they often kept silent. But now that they have Him alone they openly mock and beat Him, and declare His teachings heretic.
When we are persecuted (which we all are at some point in some way) we will likely experience this as well. When around a primarily Christian group the person or people may be friendly, even seem to accept our views. But in one-on-one conversations or in a group where non-Christians greatly outnumber Christians, they become mean, irrational, and intentionally hurtful. That’s why what our society calls persecution only occurs to minority groups, because most people aren’t brave enough to speak up when they’re outnumbered. However, in our more every day lives, the internet is a breeding ground for this trend. Because we see ourselves as anonymous we say things on the internet we would never dare say to someone’s face. Trust me, I have more personal experience with this than I care to think about. Even the person I thought was my best friend in the entire world became cruel when she couldn’t see in person how her words hurt me.
But it’s easy for this to go the other way as well. As Christians we have to be careful we aren’t persecuting those with different beliefs. It is one thing to share the Gospel, but it is quite another to be hateful. And too often I encounter Christians who can’t seem to tell the difference, especially on the internet.