I’ve heard so many people give me opinions of what Jesus was like who have obviously never studied the Bible. They say silly things like he was a great teacher and he loved everybody and taught tolerance. But you usually don’t see people clamoring to execute nice teachers who teach tolerance. Jesus was a hard man. He was full of compassion and kindness, but his teachings were not soft and tolerant in the slightest. He said things that made people want to kill him. And they did kill him. And he told his disciples to expect it. And he told them if they were going to follow him they should expect the same kind of treatment from people.
I think too many church people think that being a Christian is about putting on a happy face and singing songs and getting along with everybody. But Jesus said that his teachings would cause people to hate your guts—even your own family members sometimes. And he said if you’re not ready to be hated by your own family, if you don’t love me enough to give up everything else you love and prepare yourself for death, you’re not ready to be my follower! That doesn’t sound like the friendly tolerant Jesus that a lot of people talk about does it? But I dare you to read through the Gospels and then prove me wrong.
One of the things Jesus said over and over is “Take up your cross and follow me.” In other words prepare yourself for extreme difficulty. Before it became a popular piece of jewelry, the cross was an implement of bloody, humiliating, painful, horrible death. It wasn’t pretty. And when people came to follow Jesus he said you’re not ready to follow me until you’re ready to die for me. Until you’re ready to sacrifice yourself for the cause of saving other people from Hell, you’re no good to me.
Jesus never deserved to die. He never did anything wrong. But he condemned sin and hypocrisy, and people don’t like it when you do that to them. And the crazy thing is, he died to offer even his executioners a way to find forgiveness and new life. He died to save people—including everybody who wanted him dead at first.
How about you? Are you ready to die to save anybody—much less somebody who hates your guts. Are you ready to love your enemy and try to bring him salvation. Because if not, Jesus said, “If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Check it out in Matthew, chapter 10.
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