I was reading John 8 recently, and came across the passage where Jesus told the Jews, “You are of your father the devil” before telling them, “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me” (John 8:44-45). What makes this even more noteworthy is that the context reveals that He was talking to Jews who believed in Him (v. 31).
I have no doubt that Jesus said all of these statements with no animosity in His heart or in His voice. I know that He was full of love for these Jews as He said these things.
However, that does not change the fact that Jesus was very direct with them. He was the kind of guy who “pulled no punches.”
Does that mean He was harsh? Ugly with people? Mean-spirited? Of course not, and I think it important that we pause to reflect upon that for a bit. Many of us think that being direct with people means that we have to “let them have it” and be rude and ugly with them. That’s not actually true, though.
Jesus knew how to get along with people. He knew how to be gentle and tactful. He knew how to be discreet and how to appeal to people. He knew how to love people because He is God, and God is love.
So why did so many people hate Him? In the gospel of John alone, we read of people grumbling about Him (6:41), deciding to no longer follow Him (6:66), mutter about Him (7:12), divide over Him (7:43), want to stone Him (8:59), try to arrest Him (10:39), and try to stone Him yet again (11:8)…before eventually crucifying Him. Why?
Solomon knew. He wrote, “Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless and seek the life of the upright” (Prov. 29:10).
Even more than that, it was because Jesus was direct in His teaching…and He knew the results of that. He acknowledged that He came to bring “a sword” rather than “peace” (Matt. 10:34). That sword was His message (cf. Eph. 6:17). He knew it would offend people, and He was right (cf. Matt. 15:12).
Yet He was also very loving. That cannot be stressed enough. If God wills it, in a couple of days I’m going to give some thoughts about the love Jesus has.
So why were so many offended by His directness when He was also the epitome of love? Lord willing, I’m going to share some thoughts on that before the week is out also. Stay tuned. However, feel free to share your thoughts about Jesus’ directness in the comments. Thanks for reading!