23 January 2011

Jesus Is Hated

 John 7:1-8

You are wrong.  What you are doing is evil.  What you are doing is making the world worse.  Stop it.  Stop it now.

It isn't exactly a feel good message is it?

Years ago, my apartment was a mess. There were dirty dishes in the sink. There were dirty clothes on the floor. A dusty layer coated most of my possessions. And, there were roaches crawling here and there.

I always knew I had to clean it up, but I never seemed to have the time or the energy.  I worked.  I studied.  And my apartment just got worse.  I knew it could have been a lot better.  But, after a little time it became normal and I got used to the smell.  And, I convinced myself that it wasn't that bad as I learned how to eat and rest within my mound of filth.

When the place a person lives in gets to such a state, one of the worst fears that flashes through them is for someone to see it. If they turn on that light switch and reveal just how bad it is. I feel ashamed. I then feel angry because I don't like the idea of being looked down upon. This is MY house. This is MY life. How dare you put your nose where it doesn't belong! This is when I start to hate and despise that person and I see them as my enemy. My pride has caused me to value my filth over someone who knows that my life should be better.

The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil.

This is the cold, hard reality about Jesus that challenges many caring, loving people.  There are a lot of Christians who rightly see Jesus as the great physician and the good shepherd.  They naively believe, contrary to Jesus' teachings, that most people are accidentally lost.   They mistakenly think that if they would just help people in Jesus' name then Jesus and his church will grow in popularity.

This was the thinking of Jesus' brothers, "Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world." 

They grew up with Jesus.  They had spent time with their older brother as children.  It's hard to think of the wisdom and the power coming from one who worked beside them in their dad's workshop or caused mom and dad so much grief the time everyone thought he was lost, but was found in the temple and didn't seem to care that mom and dad were worried silly.

And so, they didn't really believe that Jesus was the Messiah.  Besides, he wasn't acting like the Messiah.  Sure, they had heard he was doing wonderful things for people.  But, he was doing them in the rural areas.  They knew that if anyone wanted to become famous throughout Israel, they had to go to Judea and Jerusalem.  There was a big festival where all of Israel would gather.  Surely, now is the perfect time for their brother Jesus to make a big splash.

But, as Luke correctly points out, they neither understood nor believed their brother and/or the Messiah.  They thought the intent of the Messiah was to be widely known, in other words, to be popular.  But, Jesus makes it clear in his response that the intent of the Messiah was not to be popular but that the intent of the Messiah is to save.

Jesus knew, more than anyone else, that in order to save people, you have to meet people where they are, turn on the light and show them that they are in trouble.  He had to show people that they are wrong.  That what they are doing is evil.  That they are making the world worse.  For their sake and the sake of everyone in the world, they had to stop it and stop it now.  Only when they stop struggling and fighting the lifeguard, can the lifeguard bring them to safety.

Jesus knew, more than anyone else, that when you meet people where they are, when you reveal them as evil, a lot of people will turn on the very one that is trying to help because their pride allows them to value their filth over the very person who is trying to help.

Some people don't like being told that they must change.  Some of us don't respond with kindness to those who challenge how we spend our money, how we ruin the reputations of others, how we harm themselves and others by their sex lives, how they cheat and steal, how we waste our lives in activities that are good for nothing or no one.  Some of us do not respond with "Yeah, you're right!  Thank you so much for loving me and introducing me to someone who really loves me and wants me to live."  No.  Instead some of us respond with "How dare you?  Just shut up.  You are now my enemy.  I want you to die so that you will shut up."

Jesus came to save.  Jesus is hated.  He sent his disciples in order to save.  They are hated.  In the face of such hatred, Jesus kept loving, kept teaching, kept showing people who his Father in Heaven truly is and what life truly is.  In the face of such hatred, Jesus' disciples keep loving, keep teaching, keep showing people who his Father in Heaven truly is and what life truly is.

Our Father in Heaven, please teach me how to love my enemies and how to pray for those who want to harm me.  Thank you for saving me.  Thank you for using me to save others as I have been saved.


  1. Good post. Interesting picture, and the intro story about your dirty house was good 'un. Maybe something you could write about (if not already done so) is Jesus' tone in his particular cultural context (Jewish, knowing God's laws and goodness, under Roman rule). There are some assumed 'stepping stones' which the Jewish people had before Jesus started preaching which Australia & central American--indeed,the developed world-- doesn't have. So how do we avoid being whistleblowers and 'killjoys' in cultures with materialistic or hedonistic mentalities?

  2. "There are a lot of Christians that see Jesus rightly as the great physician and the good shepherd who sees people as accidentally lost and if they would just help people in Jesus' name then Jesus and his church will grow in popularity."

    Just to clarify, were you using Jesus' previous quote of:

    The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil.

    in some sense as a critique of the tame word 'accidentally'?

  3. Good questions Mark.

    The church has dealt with the quesion of how do we teach the Law to those who have not had the Law from its inception. The church meeting recorded in Acts 15 is the first time. It was decided that the only things Christians should refrain from was food offered to idols, sexual immorality and animal blood.

    Jesus sets people free. He not only set us free from hedonism, but also sets us free from our own manmade restrictions. As you know, Jesus answered charges time and again about being a drunkard (which he wasn't) and eating with those who the religious society deemed unworthy.

    Following Jesus requires all of us to set aside our own cultural and personal definitions of joy and fulfillment and learn what joy and fulfillment truly are.

    To your second comment: I wrote a bad sentence. Sorry. I have edited my post to more clearly communicate my thoughts. I use accidentally to describe how some well-meaning Christians see all others. While some are "accidentally" lost, in other words not knowing they are lost, some have deliberately gone their own way apart from our Father in Heaven. This is why there are a lot of people in the world who hate Jesus. Some churches need to accept this reality instead of being convinced that if we present Jesus in a certain way, everyone will accept. No, Jesus will always be rejected by many people who want nothing to do with him.