I pretty up Jesus to make him more convincing because I don’t think he’s enough on his own.
I do this because I’m scared, I’m nervous what you’ll think about him — and I have this other idea of God that will go down smoother to answer all your doubts and concerns.
Doesn’t this make me a liar? Or disingenuous? Or a magician? Or a bad movie trailer?
I end up saying, “Jesus is actually saying –” and then going into a detailed explanation of the Greek to gloss over the really hard things he said.
We don’t like to wince. We cringe at the tough stuff that doesn’t mesh with our modern Western sensibilities. We are sure that Jesus meant something else. So we dress him up, decorate his words, and exegete the edge off him.
In Matthew 13, when Jesus says what he’ll do to evil people — he’ll “throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” — I fail to see how this is gentle generous by-golly Jesus who gives free hugs and high fives.
In Luke 12, when Jesus says what the master will do to the wicked servant — “He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers” — I can’t turn this around by saying, “Jesus is really saying, ‘I will never stop loving you.'”
In John 6, Jesus preaches a sermon so hardcore that every single follower except the appointed twelve end up leaving him. Jesus asks the remaining dozen: “Do you want to leave too?” I don’t see this in any church growth books or discipleship workshops.
In Matthew 10, Jesus says plainly with zero disclaimers: “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law — a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” I don’t see a hidden meaning in this passage. He said what he meant; he meant what he said.
Can we let Jesus speak for himself?
I know that Jesus was absolutely loving to the outcast, the poor, the children, the foreigners, the women, the demon-possessed, the disabled — but are we really skipping all these other parts? He had some hard words for the Pharisees, the teachers, the rich young ruler, and that guy who wanted to bury his dad at a funeral.
I’m not sure if I can keep neutering Jesus like this and still be called a “follower of Christ.”
What I’m following then is God in my own image. I’m doing both a disservice to Him and to you.
There are certainly many things that Jesus said which I don’t understand, which I find unpleasant, which tickle my teeth and turn my guts upside-down.
But if he really does love us: he’s going to say the hard truth. Part of love is being truthful, or you’re not being loving. At some point, Jesus pushed up against a human sensitivity and ran right through our polite, politically correct paradigms.
Truth is never easy to hear. That’s why it’s called truth. And that’s why it sets us free.
If I were the Son of God and I knew there was really a place called hell, then I’d be like one of those scientists in a disaster movie who warns everyone about the impending doom. I wouldn’t hesitate to mention the terrible tragedy that is heading for us — and Jesus did the same.
If I were a disciple recording the events of Jesus’ life, I wouldn’t spare time trying to make the truth-pill go down easy. If Jesus died and rose again for us but never said a nice thing, he has still proven he loves us by going to a cross and inviting us to eternal life.
If someone died for me while saying a few tough words: I’m not going to whine about the tough words.
I just don’t want to chop up the words of my Friend and King for the sake of making him look consumer-friendly. I’m not saying we need to be offensive or shocking or colorful about this — but I just don’t want to water down my Savior into someone who can’t save.
He does love us. So much that he didn’t hold back, not once.
Please let Jesus speak. He is better at it than we are.
“I want God, not my idea of God.”
— C.S. Lewis
11 thoughts on “Skipping The Hard Stuff Jesus Said”
Reblogged this on iLife Journey and commented:
Been feeling these sentiments lately as well! Thanks JS!
Amen! Where is fear and trembling these days?
Great post as usual! I’m really enjoying these morning reads! Thanks
Fantastic Brother! Perfectly put…
I am currently teaching a “What it means to follow Jesus” GPS class at church and this is great! Do I have permission to make copies for my class?
Great post. Very thoughtful, to the point, and above all, true. I have lamented the same things you are addressing in this post. Keep telling the truth! As I like to tell my students, Jesus said the truth would set you free, but he never said it wouldn’t hurt!
Harsh words good friend. You are right, Jesus never minced His words. He doesn’t need us to either. Of course He was very honest right from the start as to whom He came for (Luke 4:18). It would do us well to remember it is the poor, brokenhearted, captives, blind, and oppressed who receive His grace. It is the rich, pride-filled, unyielding, all-knowing, self-made, and religious that Jesus brings His stern warnings against.
Still, it is loving to tell the truth. Jesus is the Truth, so it only makes sense that everything He shared was infinitely true, no matter how much we don’t like hearing it. Especially the truth that tells us we must die to ourselves to find true and abundant life.
You do well in our western culture to bring these words. I have a feeling this is exactly what Jesus would be proclaiming to we who profess to know God on the streets of America. We are far from poor and brokenhearted. We believe we know all, see all, and answer to no one.
Why should we believe He would speak to us as He did to Mary Magdalene, the Centurion, or Zacchaeus? We need to be broken… humbled… saved. Thanks for being willing to bring a moment of honesty to us. We desperately need it.
Thanks brother. I tend to be the “grace” guy (I was once the hard truth guy but God really tenderized that), and sometimes I forget Jesus was a real person who wasn’t doe-eyed and fawning and saying things like “I’ll always love you.” It makes him more real for me when I know he has a personality, that he was as gracious as he could be quick, cutting, and truthful. It’s true we need to balance both, but I’ve seen so much of this culture make his words go down soft.
You’ve given me a lot to think about here. It’s been on my mind as well.
I know the depths of the Lord’s love for His own. I also know that those who are not His are called “enemies of God” and “children of wrath.” The choice is between a relationship with Him – or rejecting Him…and going to the one place where one would not have to be “bothered” by Him ever again.
How to keep a balanced approach here on WP…hmm…that is the question of the hour.
Thanks for letting me sort this out in a comment. 😉
I’m still thinking hard on it too. I’m grateful though that Jesus painted such grand pictures of Heaven and wedding feasts and the Father’s many rooms. I don’t know if people heard that and said, “We’ll what else you got?” hah.