Okay okay, I get it. Not you. You love the Bible so much and everything Christ said and it’s the infallible word of God and you’re thankful for every single syllable that was uttered from the incarnate mouth of God. Join the club. I’m so very thankful for the Bible and I’m so thankful for everything that Christ spoke as well, but if we’re honest, there are a few radical things the savior of the world spoke that just don’t sit well with our stomachs. And that’s okay! Or at least it should be.
There is a growing batch of bad yeast in the body of Christ and culture around us today that absolutely loves to omit scripture. Especially scripture that doesn’t fit their agenda or promote self. Sure we’re all capable of it and guilty of it from time to time. Generally, we will look at somebody who is “in sin,” and point our finger and say something along the lines of “Be Holy as I am Holy” (Lev. 20:26,) But then, a moment later when we blow it, we rid our consciences of any responsibility by reminding ourselves, “There is no condemnation. . . ” (Romans 8:1) There is a great temptation to pick and choose scripture moment by moment as it suits our needs!
I’m not talking about denominational differences. Sure there are groups that have to explain away why David said worship God with stringed instruments, and groups that have to explain away why Paul said don’t forbid speaking in tongues, and the religious groups sure have to explain away that whole “It is finished” thing, but there are certain things that mess with all of our consciences and I have to believe it was because Christ wanted it that way.
I recently started writing a book about the radical words of Christ, exploring WHY exactly they killed Jesus. The more I began to dig into the gospels, the more I began to see that the most gracious figure in the history of the world also made some of the boldest declarations we’ve ever heard. Jesus the Christ said such stern things and drew such bold lines in the sand that it figures so many would choose to turn away from Him. It’s really easy to love a guy who says, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden,” but it’s a little harder to follow the guy who is turning tables over in the temple in front of a news crew. Most would be content to simply sign up for his fan newsletter and keep up from a far. Jesus is a master of shock value, and though he made some pretty bold declarations, it’s safe to say his calling is radical and his rewards are sure and certain. Without further ado, I give you the 7 things we wish Jesus never said:
- “I’ve not come to bring peace, but a sword.” – Matthew 10:34
Yikes! A Sword!?!? Surely not Jesus! Think again. Christ was very clear to point out that his life, death and resurrection would forever draw a line in the sand: With me, or against me. He goes on to explain that from then on households and family members would be split down the middle, some in favor of Him and others, well . . . not so much. Many of you reading this post can’t seem to figure out why your whole household hasn’t thrown all the way in on the Jesus train. Christ actually said it would look like this. A sword isn’t a pretty image, but the grace is that when you’re fully given over to Him, you can’t lose. There is hope for your whole family, friend circle, workplace and school to be saved, but nevertheless there may be pain in the process.
- “In this world, you WILL have tribulation.” – John 16:33
Now this just isn’t what we bargained for, is it? Many people are told that if they will give their life to Christ they will experience His wonderful plans and purposes and never have stress or fret or experience any fear. This looks a little different than the Jesus who said, “Be faithful even unto death.” (Rev. 2:10) The problem with this pitch is that the men who followed Jesus in the Bible followed him to stoning, beheading, quartering, boiling, crucifixion, and burning. The Grace? He finishes this statement by saying… “Take heart, I have overcome the world.”
- “Take up your cross, deny yourself, and follow Me.” – Matthew 16:24
The path of indulgence seems to be the logical choice of the natural mind. The simpleton would not have it any other way than to wake up when he wants, eat what he wants, drink what he wants, do what he wants, whenever he wants, however he wants, with whoever he wants to get whatever he wants. Jesus said the four letter D-word we hate to hear: “Deny.” Like tell yourself no. Most of us can’t fathom a gracious God instructing us to put our desires on the backburner, but that’s exactly what Christ calls us to do.
- “But whoever says, “You fool!” shall be in danger of hell-fire.” – Matthew 5:22
Like FIRE. Hot, hell-fire. Christ preached so heavily that the sin comes from the heart, and that to be angry against another is to have already committed murder. When he says calling someone a fool puts one in danger of hell-fire, he is underscoring not only our heart condition but also our speech, which he later reveals comes from the heart. The Bible teaches us that we will give an account for every idle word that we speak. Just think about that. EVERY idle word. That means I will be held accountable for each word I’m typing this very instant. And you will be held accountable for every simple thought you make known. We’d probably prefer that Christ only kept a tally of our well-rehearsed encouraging speeches, but his filing cabinet is much much bigger than that.
- “So be earnest and repent.” – Revelation 3:19
Here it is! That wretched R-Word that has become so synonymous for legalism in our culture today. Repent! Boom! There’s a thought! Turn from your sin and towards Jesus Christ, change the way you think and come back to Him! There are preachers that even preach that there is not further need to repent after giving your life to Christ but here we have the resurrected Jesus exhorting a church of believers to do that very thing. Repentance is the pathway to redemption, not only for salvation from hell, but deliverance from sin, addiction and bondage.
- “Go, sell everything. . . and follow me.” Matthew 19:21
Now, in context, Jesus was exposing a rich man’s heart by commanding him to do the very thing he would refuse: Giving up his stuff. When this man stacked up his list of accomplishments to impress the savior, Jesus said something like, “Great, now go give up everything and you’ll have riches in heaven, and follow me.” The Grace? The rich young ruler would have treasure in heaven. But suffice it to say that just wasn’t good enough for this man. And if we’re honest, there’s a good deal of things we’d much like to hang on to as well.
7. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations. . .” – Matthew 28:19
This seems a little different than the other sayings we’ve explored but if you think about it makes a great deal of sense. It’s hard to find someone who embraces a mission for the mission’s sake. Most people don’t like work. They just work because it brings a paycheck each Friday. Many of us wouldn’t dream of leaving the four walls of the church building to actually speak on behalf of Christ and bring the prodigals home. Jesus Christ has not called us to merely sit and be Christians, but rather to GO. That means to get up, go out, and do something! What is that? Make disciples. Going and making means taking initiative. This is generally where someone will point you to John 15 and give a nice theological exposition of “abiding” and resting and being rather than doing. Oh the fruit of enjoying an ongoing relationship with God, but let’s not forget the harvest fields are ripe. Let’s not let them go to waste while we enjoy the shade of the barn. Let’s not neglect the great commission of our master: Go! And make disciples.
What do you think? Do you believe these statements are still valid for today? Are there any other scriptures you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments section and feel free to share this article with your friends.