Negative campaigning ∙
18 “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’”
19 “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” – Matthew 11:18-19
John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Negative campaigning goes back millennia. The ancient Romans were shrewd and clever. They suggested, “Throw plenty of dirt, and some of it will be sure to stick.” In the late 1800s, “dirt throwing” morphed into “mudslinging. The term stuck.
Quintus Tullius Cicero wrote, “How to Win an Election” in 64 BC. Cicero advised, “Finally, as regards the Roman masses, be sure to put on a good show. Dignified, yes, but full of the color and spectacle that appeals so much to crowds. It also wouldn’t hurt to remind them of what scoundrels your opponents are and to smear these men at every opportunity with the crimes, sexual scandals, and corruption they have brought on themselves.”
The presidential campaign of 1828 is considered the dirtiest presidential campaign ever. It was loaded with character assassination, name-calling, slurs, rumors, and wild accusations, often with little or no basis in fact. It was very much like the attack ads of modern politics.
There were outrageous lowlights. Andrew Jackson was accused of murder, polygamy, and adultery. John Quincy Adams was accused of being a pimp while serving as a diplomat in Russia.
Accusations were circulated by “handbills” and partisan newspapers to undermine the opponent’s character. The campaign was not based on political positions but rather on personalities.
Today, the methods have changed due to digital media, but the vitriol remains.
The Scriptures are replete with mudslinging and name-calling.
18 “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’
19 “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”
In the days of John the Baptist and the early ministry of Jesus, the religious leaders did quite a bit of opposition research. Stitching together a few facts, they came up with convincing yet untruthful character assassination, name-calling, and slurs. John the Baptist had a strange and crazy-sounding message about coming doom and destruction. He was an aesthetic hermit living alone in the desert. His isolation was only broken when he was called upon to preach repentance, for the kingdom of God was at hand. John was dismissed and called a demon-possessed madman.
The Lord Jesus Christ, on the other hand, was totally different. He was actively involved in the lives of people. He went to parties and socialized. He ate freely and drank wine. He shunned the political correctness of His day and the cultural and religious expectations of the religious leaders. Further, he hung out with tax collectors and sinners that the religious leaders despised. For the religious leaders, He apparently lacked discretion and understanding and was called a glutton and a drunkard.
REFLECT & PRAY
1 John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.
Father help me not to be confused or deceived by the lies that are repeatedly disseminated, even if they support my beliefs. May I always stand firm on the foundation of the Word of God.
Some religious leaders got into a heated argument with the Lord Jesus Christ involving over-the-top name-calling. The legitimacy of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and His parentage were called into question. The Lord Jesus Christ was born via a remarkable, supernatural birth. But the slurs and innuendos apparently started early. In John 8, a rumor was spread that Jesus was not a legitimate child. Were Mary and Joseph legitimately married when she became pregnant? Perhaps the worst slur of the rumor mill was that Joseph was not His father. But instead, He was the child of a Roman soldier named Pantera.
The accusations were cutting and vile. Was He not an illegitimate child born of fornication? They called Him a half-breed; a Samaritan, half-Gentile half-Jew, who was demon-possessed.
Regarding the fatherhood of the religious leaders accusing Him, Jesus retorts that they were not the heavenly Father’s children. Instead, their father was the devil, and they acted just like him: lying, deceiving and murdering. The Lord Jesus Christ unequivocally states that their unbelief results from their parentage.
Finally, the confrontation climaxes. The Lord Jesus claims that He was alive at the time of Abraham. Then comes the wildest claim of all. Jesus claims to be God come in the flesh. He uses the very name of God to describe Himself “I am.” Before Abraham was born, I am. The religious leaders were livid and sought to stone Him on the spot.
41 “You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.”
44 “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
45 “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.”
48 The religious leaders answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”
52 The religious leaders said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.’”
56 “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”
57 So the religious leaders said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”
58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”
Both sides made outlandish claims. How do we know who is telling the truth and who is not? The Lord Jesus Christ offered evidence to back up His words.
John 10:38 if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But everyone is not entitled to their own Truth.
“If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed” (Adolf Hitler).