Saturday, November 16, 2013

THE HARD WORDS OF JESUS

A few years ago I realized something deeply disturbing: the Jesus most people talk about in the twenty-first century is not the Jesus of the Bible. Today’s fake version of Jesus is more like a doll or a teddy bear or a fluffy bunny. He is not the Almighty Christ talked about in the New Testament. The new Jesus is nothing more than a cheap invention of modern sentimentalism’s chief policy: “Do not offend anyone! Just love, love, love…!”

This morning I went through Matthew’s Gospel underlining every “hard” word Jesus spoke and I was astonished to find so many quotes that would be condemned by today’s sugary brand of faith as “intolerant”, “harsh”, “judgmental” or just downright “unloving”. There are far too many quotes to even begin a serious study. But let me offer you a selection of some of the fiercest of the words that Jesus used when confronting His enemies. Remember: I’m quoting directly from Jesus’ words in the Scriptures. There are no human add-ons here…

1.- Repent! (Matthew 4:17)

Jesus’ public ministry began with the watchword of John the Baptist. It wasn’t love, love, love! But repent, repent, repent! This radical message of repentance explains why Jesus said He came to bring a sword (and not peace) so that whole families would be divided because of Him (10:35-38). “If you don’t love me more than everything else,” reasons Jesus, “you are not worthy of me!”

2.- Clear off! (Matthew 4:10; 16:23)

On two occasions Jesus tells the devil “get behind me” and “get hence”. In contemporary terms: “Clear off, Satan! Take a hike!” He didn't dialogue with the devil. He told him where to go. Full stop! Doesn't sound too tolerant, does it?

3.- Beware of judgment! (Matthew 5:22, etc. Too many to mention)

As I read through Matthew it became ever so clear that Jesus’ key message is that judgment is coming soon. It was as if condemnation was never off His mind whilst He was preaching. I jotted down dozens of texts where Jesus warns His followers and others in no uncertain terms to get serious about following God. Just take a read through the book yourself and you’ll see what I mean. He is coming! So get ready!

4.- Insults!

Jesus’ lips are full of fierce insults for the enemies of the Kingdom of God. “Hypocrites” is a term that appears throughout the whole Gospel (fifteen times). Then there are the two related terms “snakes” and “vipers”. Add to that list “blind fools”, “blind guides”, “wicked”, “perverse”, “evil” and “cursed” and you’ll start to see what Jesus thought of the devil’s servants. Who would dream of speaking like that nowadays? The Barbie Jesus of the twenty-first century sure wouldn't!

5.- Darkness and gnashing of teeth!

I counted six threats regarding “darkness and gnashing of teeth” pronounced by Jesus in Matthew (8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30). Whatever hell must be like, it sure isn’t going to be pretty. The Lord tried to convey something of the torment that will afflict all of the reprobate eternally. Sometimes the word “fire” is used as well in these passages to emphasis the severity of the suffering.

6.- Woe!

The word “woe!” sends shivers down my spine. It was just about the harshest word a Jew could utter. To proclaim a woe upon someone or something meant to curse them in the severest of terms. Jesus proclaims “woe!” more than ten times in the Gospel (fourteen to be exact). Woe to the Pharisees! Woe to the scribes! Woe to the one who betrays the Son of man- it would be better for him not to have been born! Woe to the world!, etc.

7.- You won’t be forgiven! (Matthew 6:15; 12:32)

Jesus also makes it very clear that there will be no forgiveness for two types of people: 1) those who refuse to forgive others; and 2) those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit. It’s that simple. Jesus makes no false promises. He preached with holy zeal!

8.- You’re better off tying a rock around your neck! (Matthew 18:6)

One final “unloving” word from the biblical Jesus is found in Matthew 18:6 when Jesus warns folk about offending children. “Whosoever offends one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea!” (Matthew 18:6). Jesus was no fairy. He didn't live in a magical bubble. He warned, He exhorted and He admonished in the name of the Lord.

Conclusion

I hope this goes some way to dispelling the twenty-first century myth about Jesus. He is not a doll or a teddy or a fluffy bunny. He is the eternal Judge made manifest in flesh. There are so many more texts that I could add from Matthew’s Gospel; but this article will serve as a starter. We must not be ashamed of the biblical Jesus. “Whosoever shall deny me before men, him also will I deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32). So if we’re going to follow Jesus, let’s make sure He’s the correct One… 

Will Graham

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