READ: Psalm 14, Isaiah 1-3, John 7, Revelation 15
THE UNPOPULAR JESUS
When Jesus is universally liked He has been misunderstood. The Muslim Jesus, the secular Jesus, the liberal Jesus look little like the historical Jesus.
Jesus the Hated. The world hates Jesus because He testifies that its works are evil (John 7:7). In today’s world Jesus would be castigated for pointing out the evils of society. Jesus spoke boldly, clearly, the uncompromised doctrine of the Father (v. 16, 26). Jesus pointed out the evils of society when it was unpopular to do so and was thus considered “a hater.” To be like Jesus is to speak out against what is evil and to be hated. The striving to be liked and respected by the world (our own culture or the culture we are trying to evangelize) is errant–if we would be like Jesus.
Jesus the Demonized. When Jesus spoke up against sin, there was much complaining among the people because of Him (John 7:12). The people are so perturbed they even make this shocking claim: “He has a demon” (v. 20)! Jesus’ ministry was so revolutionary that some thought Him wicked. We are warned in Scripture that something is amiss when all men speak well of us, yet there is something in our flesh which craves to be admired. To be like Jesus is to be so other from conventional wisdom that we are occasionally thought to be evil.
Jesus the Divider. “There was a division among the people because of Him” (John 7:43). Jesus is mistakenly thought to always unite people. The reality is that Jesus constantly divides men. Because Jesus is truth, and because truth is unyielding and must conquer, those that submit to truth unite with Jesus, those that resist truth divide themselves away from Him. Unity is a noble goal, but not at the expense of truth. The reality of Jesus is that division follows in His wake. We are not used to thinking of Jesus in these terms, but if we are to be like Jesus we, too, will be divisive when truth is on the line. It is a false expectation if we think that all men can be united.
The historical and present Jesus is very different from the non-offensive, people-pleaser that He has been reduced to. Those that have reduced Him resent His divine right to rule and to define truth. They are not His friends, they are rebels with gilded tongues. We must reconcile ourselves to the reality that to follow Jesus means that we, too, must speak out against evil, be hated, be thought demonic, and polarize men. Any other expectation (or goal) is wayward.