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What Did He Say?


Jesus was human. He looked like your neighbor. He was born of a woman as you were, yet He said things that motivated the people to wonder and anger. His words drew criticism and hatred from many who professed to be religious men.

Let us suppose that you had a neighbor who you knew to be a good man. He went to church and took care of his mother's needs and did favors for you from time to time. In your heart you found nothing wrong with this young man. Let us suppose he came over one day and said, "...I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me". (John 14:6) Would you feel somewhat offended? Suppose I came to you on the street and you recognized me as one of your neighbors. You did not see any apparent evil. You saw that I did loving things to people and you reported that I was a "nice guy". But what if I came to you one day and said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me"? You might say, "Yes, but you're not God". Well, they didn't think that Jesus was God, either. He didn't look like God. He looked like Pete, Joe or Mike. Yet, He said, "I am the truth".

It is helpful for us to view things as the Jews viewed them before we can get an idea how we might react today if that same thing happened to us. Jesus (the man) said many things that caused trouble and dissension. He was not easily ignored. "...I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12) This man not only said He was the light of the world, but also He said men were supposed to follow Him. Today you can hear the warning, "Don't follow a man. Remember Jim Jones". That is what they thought of this man Jesus. He was a man who claimed to be the light of the world, then He instructed men to follow Him. These sayings created great resistance in many who heard Him.

How Would You Decide?

Just imagine someone doing this today. How would you feel? I mean, really? Don't trick your mind by saying, "If Jesus came today, I would accept Him." Remember, Jesus looked like Joe. He didn't look like God. If Joe came over and said, "I am the light of the world; come and follow me; I am God". What would you think? Would you respond as the Jews responded? Would you run over to the preacher in the synagogue and say, "This man claims to be the light of the world, is that true? He says that He is God". What do you suppose your minister would answer? Would he say, "Yes, He is God; now go right over and follow Him"? I think the answer is quite obvious. Jesus would be treated today precisely as He was treated 2,000 years ago. The fact is He might be treated more poorly than He was treated when He first came to us.

Jesus and the Modern Church

The message most often heard regarding Jesus in today's world is often richly intermixed with statements of love and benevolence. Indeed, Jesus was love personified. His benevolence was unparalleled in any generation. His character was without spot or wrinkle. What the modern message hopes to convey is that Jesus had no judgment and that His love was a kind of sentimental gushiness. It is indicated by modern man that Jesus did not rebuke sin but simply ignored it. "After all, did He not eat with Publicans and sinners?"

Yes, Jesus was loving, but they hated Him because sin was rebuked and it was rebuked continually. He would say things which had the preachers livid with rage. Imagine this common man, who spent most of His life working in His father's carpenter shop learning how to make chairs and tables, saying some of the things He said. He sometimes spoke with those who had their doctor's degrees from a major university. He did not have a formal education in the nation's schools, but somehow, the educated class got the message He was seeking to give.

The educated class saw this man speaking of Himself. They said, "...Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true". (John 8:13) In essence, they were saying that Jesus was going around making claims about Himself but that that proved nothing. "You go around saying you're the Son of God but it isn't true." Jesus answered them saying, "...Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go. Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. ...Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also". (John 8:14-19)

Consider the rebuke that that must have been to these doctors of the law. This common man was saying that His own testimony and the testimony of the Father was enough. Jesus was also telling them that they didn't even know God since they did not know Himself. He was saying, if they would have recognized and accepted Jesus, then they would have been able to recognize and accept the Father as well.

The Pharisees were the conservative element of the church. They saw themselves as the protectors of the faith. When this carpenter's son, with no education, presumed to tell them He was somebody important, it caused them no little distress. They saw themselves as righteous and Jesus as a deceiver.

The conservatives claim to have God as their Father. When they pray they say, "Our Father." But Jesus set the record straight. "...If God were your Father, ye would love me. ...Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. ...He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God." (John 8:42, 44, 47)

Conservatives today react the same way they did then. When they hear the sons of God say these things, they respond equally as vehemently as their predecessors. "Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?"(John 8:48) That's the only way the conservative can retaliate. He cannot use reason or righteous judgment since he has none. He can only say to the sons of God today, "You are of the devil."

He Called Them Liars

Jesus said things that the sentimental would consider unchristlike. One of those things He said was, "Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying". (John 8:55) Now imagine that! You go to a church and you sing and praise the Lord and are happy and accept people as they are. You try hard to be nice, only losing your temper on occasion. You respect your minister and consider him a nice man, since he tithes of all he has and says nice things about God every week and kisses little babies.

One day a man comes by that you knew as the kid down the street. He has grown up now. He never went to school and he was always quite poor. He was a nice kid but no one especially noteworthy. He has the audacity to speak boldly with one who had been to all the right colleges and institutions of learning and tell this nice man he didn't know God and that he was a liar. This common man, Jesus, went on to say that this man had to accept Him and follow Him. He told the educated one that He, Himself was the "I Am." How would you have taken to that? I mean, really? What if you found yourself listening to the discussion and your family or church came by and said, "This Jesus is of the devil, you had better watch out. Look how He treats these nice men. He calls them hypocrites and liars and tells them that they have to follow Him or they don't know God." Can you get the impact of what actually happened?

The modern church has painted the sepulchers of the prophets white. They go to church and sing Jesus songs and love everyone, but when Jesus comes to them in the form of a common man today, they reject Him just as heartily as they did then.

His Judgment

The love of Jesus was judgment. He judged righteously and benevolently. He loved the sinner enough to speak straight to him. He loved the sinner enough to tell him whether or not he had salvation. Jesus was a "real" man instead of a pretend man. He told the truth. Today, the false shepherds tell lies to the sheep and call that loving. They say nice, encouraging, loving things and the soul that is spoken to falls into the blackness of the pit. What modern Christianity calls love is only the old hatred. What modern day religion calls hatred is really the old love.

Consider this common man coming to your church. Consider him speaking of your ministers this way, "...They bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries (degrees), and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief (up front) seats in the synagogues (churches), and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi (Reverend)". (Matt. 23:4-7)

Can you just hear the response? "This man has a critical attitude. He isn't loving." Jesus did not have a critical attitude, but He was not a liar either. He simply went about telling the truth. His manner was kind and gentle, but bold and authoritative. His countenance was merciful; however, that mercy in no way detracted from His righteous judgment, but contributed to it.

He went on to say more. "But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." (Matt. 23:13) The religious men of His day had evangelism. They had many beautiful rites and ceremonies, yet this common man was saying that they just did those things to show off before the people. Jesus discounted all their evangelistic efforts. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves." (Matt. 23:15)

Men like to extol their virtues in doing for others. They love to be noticed in their evangelism. Jesus was telling them, "So what? Your work for the Lord is without value". Millions see themselves "working for the Lord" and He sees men working for the devil. Jesus was a master at exposing pretense. Nothing escaped His piercing gaze. He did not look at men, but in men. They all knew that this man was not as other men. They knew that He had an understanding of them. There will be no escaping the eyesight of Jesus. His life is the standard for all to meet.

Jesus Loved

Jesus loved His people as much as His own life. Because He loved, He said, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees (authors and preachers), hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity". (Matt. 23:25-28)

This was the most loving thing He could find to say to these men. They loved their education. They loved their fine churches and institutions. They loved their theology and ceremony, but they didn't love the young man down the street who said He was the Son of God. They did not love the young man who practiced judgment and justice. They did not love the young man who always obeyed God. For this they received great love from Jesus. This was the love that said to that generation, "Your religion is in vain". "Your evangelism is in vain." "Your self-righteous deeds are in vain." "You have not the life of God in you."

Christians pride themselves in their rich heritage. They hold their holy men of old in esteem. Some Christians boast of a modern day prophet. They will weep at the tombs of these dead relics. They will garnish them with flowers. The ministers will praise the dead saints and extol their virtues, but they will not obey the spirit that motivated them. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers." (Matt. 23:29-33)

Modern man has a tendency to say, "Yes, those bad people back there; they sure did wicked things. I sure wouldn't have done anything like that. I would have been a good person." Little do they realize they do exactly what their fathers have done. If the boy next door came by and claimed to be God, they would abuse him just as they abused Jesus. There is no difference between the modern church of today and the synagogue of 2,000 years ago. Think it through.

When men see Jesus today they say, "He is holier than thou;" they say, "He is a bigot." Some say, "He is a religious fanatic." Men today hate righteousness. They hate to see the attributes of Jesus in a man. It's okay for God to be holy, but when a man is holy, it is hateful to them because it brings condemnation to their own wicked life.

The loving words of Jesus can still be said to this generation, "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" (Matt. 23:33) In anyone's mind that could not be considered a compliment. I have witnessed the wrath of those whom I have had to tell that they were lost. They would say to me, "You can't judge me; how can you say I am lost?" Jesus did not quietly say they were lost. He clearly and plainly said they were snakes and damned to hell. Those whose religion is the baby in a manger and sentimental "lovey-ness", find this clear-spoken Jesus unreceivable. When Jesus gives His testimony today to the modern apostate church, He is crucified all over again in the persons of His saints for saying the truth and speaking righteous judgments.

Men take pride in their churches. They extol their "true church". Their church came down from Peter or John the Baptist or the reformers or some other prophet. Jesus speaks to them saying, "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate". (Matt. 23:38) He was clearly saying to them, "Your church is a wasteland".

You can get some idea as to the hostility of man against such statements. Men will point to all the loving, gentle words of the Savior. Yes, that is true. But these words are reserved for the penitent and faithful. These gentle and kind words were given to the ones who had sorrow of heart and yearned for the touch of the Savior. Jesus' rebukes were uttered with tears in His voice and mercy in His countenance, but divinity flashed through humanity and the vengeance of God could not be missed by those who had hard, self-righteous hearts. Jesus was not sentimental. He was real. In no way did He countenance sin. He did not let it pass 2,000 years ago and He is not letting it pass today.

What Jesus said were things which drove home to His hearers the very soul of an issue. Everyone knew the truth of His words. The Scriptures clearly define the attitude of Jesus. They say, "...The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation". (Exe. 34:6-7) This is what Jesus said.

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