This week I’ve written and thought about how Jesus was both a very loving and very direct person. Was His directness that offended many and prompted the hatred and opposition He and His followers experienced…and still experience today?
I would answer in the affirmative…but only so far. There was a deeper reason, and that reason remains foundational to the opposition pure, unadulterated Christianity faces throughout the world today.
Ultimately, the real reason many were…and are…offended by Jesus lies with their spiritual condition. The reality is that all of us sin and fall short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23). In comparison to the epitome of goodness which is God, none of us are good (Rom. 3:9-17). Whatever degree of goodness we have (cf. Matt. 5:45; 12:35; 22:10; 25:21, 23; Lk. 23:50; Acts 11:24; Rom. 5:7) pales greatly in comparison to the standard of God’s goodness.
And most of us do not desire to work and grow to become more like God. Throughout history most of us have never wished to turn from their wickedness. Most of us have chosen to stubbornly persist in doing what we want to do rather than what God wants us to do. We do not like to think of our bad and evil choices as such. We excuse it away, dismissing our bad behavior as the result of “environmental influences” or “genetic predispositions.” In reality, such factors play a role in some…but not nearly as predominantly in most cases.
In reality, in most cases we are responsible for our own beliefs and our own behavior. One day, we will give an account of our own individual selves and our own choices and actions (2 Cor. 5:10; Eccl. 12:14). Jesus knows this. That’s why He was so direct. It was because He was also so full of love for us, a love that strongly desires that none of us go to the eternal hell which is the just consequence of our sin (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 21:8).
As he said, “The world…hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil” (John 7:7). That was true then, and it is true today.
As John wrote under inspiration:
John 3:19-21 (ESV)
19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.