The "Not-So-Nice" Jesus
For unto us a child is born,
To us a son is given,
And the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Seems odd, if not strange, that in the days of Isaiah the coming Messiah would be called Prince of Peace, but then when Jesus does arrive on planet Earth, he himself says “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Is there a conflict here? Or maybe Isaiah made a mistake describing Jesus as he did. It’s unthinkable that Jesus did not know he was to be a “peace” representative of his Father. Evidence throughout the New Testament verifies that, contrary to being “nice” as most Christians today believe Jesus to be, he turns out to be “not-so-nice” when going about his mission to represent his Father. Sure, Jesus wants to be our friend; sure, he died on the Cross; sure, he promised he would never leave us nor forsake us; sure, he forgives people their sins; sure, he cures people of sickness and physical deformities; sure, he wants everyone to be part of his heavenly kingdom. But, Jesus comes with a sword, and he intends to use it!
Swords, it seems, have been in use from almost day one. Check out the episode in the Garden of Eden after The Fall. So the Lord God banished him (Adam) from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he (the Lord God) drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:23, 24. When God installed this sword to guard the tree of life, did that act eliminate the possibility that man could live forever? What does the preceding verse mean? And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” Genesis 3:22. From that verse, can it be said that eating from the tree of life meant a person would live forever? Was eternal life forfeited then and there because God determined he was not going to have an eternal sinner on his hands for all eternity by allowing Adam to eat from the tree of life anymore? Further questions: Who is being referred to when it says “the man has now become like one of us.” Who is “one of us?” Who is it that knows “good and evil?” Does God know “good and evil?” Is God referring to himself? Could God be referring to the serpent, who is Satan, the devil and the deceiver?
The sword that Jesus began to use 2,000 years ago was not an actual steel-honed, sharp-edged cutting weapon that Jesus carried in a sheath that was strapped to his belt. It is entirely appropriate that John’s gospel begins with the words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” John 1:1, 2. Jesus’ sword consisted of the words he spoke to everyone who would listen to him. His words cut through the red tape and misconceived information about God that had occupied the minds and the thinking process of people for generations. Jesus’ words of truth are convincing evidence of his claim to be the Son of God, and as he said, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” John 6:63. Tragically, the words he spoke that gave life to others were the same words that brought about his death. Insane religious people hated Jesus and rejected his words, and then used those same words as evidence that he was worthy of death.
By today’s standards, Jesus could again be labeled an extremist - someone who was out on a limb all by himself. He had ideas and thoughts that didn’t align with the religious establishment then; the same could be true for today also. In the minds of the religious hierarchy, Jesus was thought to be an outlaw as he seemed to be ‘outside the law,’ whereas the religious leadership considered themselves to be ‘inside the law’ by their standard of rituals and strict observance to rules. In regard to this, Jesus said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matt. 5:17.
Jesus was deemed by some to be a rebel and a nuisance, and his own words proved him to be offensive to those who were the embodiment of religious thinking. He also was considered to be disrespectful to religious authorities by not adhering to the traditions of the priests and elders, nor would he participate in ceremonies that had no real meaning or purpose. Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean’.” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” Matt. 15: 10-12.
Jesus was an outcast, and few appreciated what he talked about and demonstrated because they failed to understand what his mission entailed. Even his close family members and his inner circle of disciples had their doubts at times. Jesus’ brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts is secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him. Therefore Jesus told them, “The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to the Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.” Having said this, he stayed in Galilee. However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. John 7:3-10. With this last statement, Jesus demonstrated that no one, including his own brothers, family, and his disciples, no one controls Jesus or tells him what to do.
Jesus called a spade a spade, and would not hold back his opinion and thoughts about present-day religious authority, knowing full-well that rejection would be the outcome. So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t you and your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating their food with ‘unclean’ hands?” He (Jesus) replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesized about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” Mark 7:5-8. See Matt. 15:1-20 also. Blindly following tradition, just for the sake of tradition, can have far-reaching eternal consequences.
I wonder what the reaction and response of the present-day religious community would be if Jesus said and demonstrated the same things today as he did 2,000 years ago. Would “hatred without reason” (John 15:25) again exist in the minds of the world’s religious leaders, evangelists, and authorities within the church? Could a similar enmity arise that would lead to another Crucifixion and the shedding of blood? Does that possibility exist?
Jesus was quick to point out faulty perceptions and observances that held sway over the minds of the religious elite. Case in point: The Jews claimed to be descendants of Abraham (John 8:31-47). To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.” “Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the things your own father does.” “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.” Historical name-dropping meant nothing to Jesus, even though these people were descendants of Abraham, because they were about to do something that Abraham would never think of doing. From the above passage these people cannot make up their minds exactly who is their father, as they first claim Abraham, but later claim God is their Father.
Jesus also tactfully addressed the question of the purpose behind the long-held views of religious authority that dominated the teachings of the elders, the priests and high priests. As an example, Jesus said “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God, only he has seen the Father.” John 6:44-46. To unravel and adjust previous generational ingrained beliefs and actions of the ‘teachers of the law’ was a monumental task to undertake, and everywhere Jesus traveled he met strong resistance as the former ways of thinking and doing things were difficult to change. Jesus knew there would be some who would respond in a positive way to his message, but he still must have experienced a lot of frustration on his part. All of this shows how powerful Satan can be, and how he can influence and dominate a person’s intellect with misleading information about God. The above quoted verses make it clear that God himself wants to be and should be our Teacher, not the clergy or anyone else. Our objective is that we need to be willing to listen.
The modern-day Jesus is allowed to say very little even by those who claim to be his followers and ‘heirs to the throne,’ primarily because of the dominant feature of the Cross. Since it is thought that Jesus: 1) ‘paid the penalty’ for everyone’s sins by dying on the Cross; 2) made peace with the Father in the process so he will forgive us and accept us; 3) turned the Father’s anger and wrath away from mankind, Jesus is seen as everyone’s friend, but God the Father is still highly suspect, especially since it is believed that the unsaved and the lost will spend eternity in the flames of torment. There are many who believe they need Jesus to protect them from Satan the devil, and to protect them also from God himself. For some people, being alone with God the Father makes them very uneasy, nervous, and afraid; they don’t know what to expect from him. Strange how the perception of God the Father by many who claim to be his followers becomes so twisted and perverted that God is portrayed as a mirror image of the character of Satan. Try to think of something worse than to be tortured and kept alive in burning flames for as long as God shall live, and yet the bulk of the Christian community believes that God’s righteous justice is required to take vengeance on those who have offended him, and that his justice is being administered when the lost are burning in the flames. Many are those who believe God’s divine wrath is deserved punishment for those who are not part of Heaven. Who would feel secure in Heaven with that kind of God? Could a God like that be trusted? How happy and content would everyone be if they knew that family, friends, and acquaintances are suffering in the flames for all eternity? Would there be any joy to be found in Heaven?
What Jesus said that caused envy and hatred:
What Jesus did that caused envy and hatred:
Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their law: ‘They hated me without reason’.” John 15:18-25. Jesus was accused of breaking the Sabbath and making himself equal with God. The insanity of it all is mind-boggling.
The gospel writer John mentions person-to-person talks that Jesus had with those who sought to take his life by stoning or by other means as the above quotes verify. It’s amazing how a short conversation with Jesus could arouse such hostile, deadly actions by those who considered themselves to be such good, law-abiding, highly-educated, devoutly-religious people. It also is astounding how a demonstration of Jesus’ power could provoke thoughts of murder. Jesus did not climb up on the Cross all by himself. He was purposely nailed there by the most religious people on the face of the earth as a means to end his controversial message about himself and his Father, and to end his claim that he was the Son of God.
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