By Eric Wheeler

(Originally published in 2006)

This morning I was thinking about Jesus. A different Jesus than the one that is commonly known throughout the world today. A different Jesus than the one that is talked about in many Christian churches. A Jesus that is not the flashy speaker, the soft-spoken preacher, or the gentle healer that the masses love. This Jesus is not the cute and cuddly little baby that you see portrayed in the Nativity scenes.
No, the Jesus that I was thinking of is not popular. He is not accepted by the people. He is not polished or entertaining. His messages are divisive, and at times, hurtful. His words are socially-unacceptable and politically incorrect. This Jesus preaches without notes or lengthy introductions. He isn’t invited to speak to special interest groups or fundraisers. He doesn’t teach at seminaries or colleges. He doesn’t hold any degrees or doctorates. He doesn’t serve on any boards or counsels. He does not solicit money or ask for donations. He does not hold conferences or seminars, or sell merchandise that supports or promotes his ministry. He isn’t on TV and doesn’t have a book on the New York Times Best Sellers list. He isn’t rich or well-dressed. He hangs out with the wrong people. He drinks alcohol. And he isn’t welcome in most churches. I am not thinking about the Jesus that most people are familiar with. No, I am thinking of a different Jesus. A Jesus that the world doesn’t know. A Jesus who was rejected by His own people. A Jesus that was thrown out of the churches He attended. A Jesus who was forsaken by His close friends. A Jesus who was despised by the religious, hated by the successful, and betrayed by the populace. A Jesus who was considered a rebel, a dissident, a heretic, a drunkard, and a bastard. This is the Jesus that I was thinking of. The Jesus of the Bible. Many don’t realize it, but the Jesus of the Bible did not create a huge following that He delighted in. He didn’t exploit nor peddle the “emotional euphoria” that His miracles created in and among the people. He wasn’t interested in large numbers of converts joining Him or His church. He didn’t want the masses understanding His messages or His parables. According to His own lips, His messages were specifically designed to confuse and confound the people, not enlighten them. He didn’t tell the people to go to church or to synagogue. He wasn’t a lobbyist for charitable organizations or a proponent of special tax cuts. He didn’t boycott businesses or use political clout to try to manipulate government policy. No, the Jesus that I am thinking of is not a popular figure or charismatic performer. He does not enjoy seeing His name in lights or on billboards or bumper stickers, as a cheap evangelistic reminder to the world that His name and His existence are of value. The Jesus that I know is not a mild-mannered, syrupy, missionary-type that stands with outstretched arms beckoning to the masses to “just come unto Me and I will accept you as you are”. He is not the Jesus that instructs His followers to simply repeat a smoothly-orchestrated prayer designed to liberate them from sin and then usher them into eternal bliss. My Jesus, the one found written of in the Bible, is none of these things.

Instead, the Jesus of the Bible:

  • told His followers that in order for them to truly be one of His disciples they must “deny themselves and pick-up their crosses and follow Him” (Matt.16:24).
  • told the people that He didn’t come to bring peace on earth, but rather, He came to bring a sword and to cause division among family members (Matt. 10:34-35).
  • wasn’t interested in converting the masses, but purposely confused the people by speaking to them in
  • parables and sayings that were hard to understand and accept (Matt. 13:10-15; John 6:60-67).
  • was considered by many of His day to be an alcoholic (Luke 7:34), a bastard (John 8:41), demon possessed (John 10:20), mentally-ill (Mark 3:21), and a political rebel (Luke 23:5).
  • was rejected by His own people, because He spoke the truth and did not care what people thought, nor did He seek the approval of men (John 1:11; Mark 12:14).
  • refused to allow the populace to make Him their king (John 6:14-15).
  • didn’t comfort and pity the survivors of a great natural catastrophe and national tragedy, but instead boldly informed them that they had better repent, or they, too, would likewise perish! (Luke 13:1-5).
  • told the people sitting in His hometown church that they were the ones who were “spiritually poor, blind, broken, captive, and oppressed”. They consequently kicked Him out! (Luke 4:16-29).
  • openly called the religious leaders and church leaders of His day, “hypocrites, snakes, blind guides, whited sepulchres, fools, and the children of hell” (Matt. 23:13-33).
  • drove out the religious peddlers and vendors from the Temple with a whip that He made of cords saying, “Get out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a house of merchandise!” (John 2:16).
  • warned His followers against setting-up hierarchies and governments within the church in order to exercise authority over one another. He told them that they were all equal brothers and didn’t have spiritual pre-eminence over one another. He also told them that they were not allowed to call themselves (or allow others to call them) by religious sounding titles and names (Matt. 20:25-28; Matt. 23:6-12).
  • told His followers that they were not to sell the Gospel, and that they were to preach the Word of God without charge expecting nothing in return. For He said, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matt.10:8).
  • who said to His followers that they should sell what they have in order to give it to those in need. He told His followers to store-up “treasures in Heaven” instead of here on earth. Nowhere in the Bible did He tell His followers to build huge ministries and create church building funds, but rather, He told them to “sell what they have and give it to the poor” (Matt. 6:19-21; Luke 12:33-34).
  • told His followers to not recite prayers or use vain repetitions when praying. “When you pray, do not use meaningless repetitions, as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matt.6:7).
  • who warned His followers to not wear religious apparel or make a religious pretense to be noticed of men. For He said to His followers, “Beware of the religious leaders, who like to walk around in long robes, and love to be greeted in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the churches, and the places of honor at banquets . . . and for a show make long prayers. For these people will receive greater condemnation” (Luke 20:45-47).

This is the Jesus that I was thinking about. The unpopular Jesus. The rejected Jesus. The misrepresented Jesus. The Jesus of the Bible!

Eric
eric@sharingtheway.com

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