Thinking yesterday evening about the comments in John 15 from Jesus about why people hate him got me thinking about the type of things that Jesus said that got people annoyed.
John 15v22-23 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well.
Jesus draws a strong link between guilt and hearing his words but rejecting them, and interestingly he makes the point that hating him and his words means that you hate God the Father too. You can’t have God without Jesus.
But what was it that made people so angry what didn’t they like about his words?
Well looking through Mark’s gospel again to try and see what it is that annoyed them so much the primary thing, maybe the only thing that seemed to annoy them was when Jesus made claims about himself and his authority that seemed to undermine their power or influence. The opposition was largely from those in power, either political or religious power. That fits well with what Jesus says in John 15 and 16 about opposition coming from religious people who think they are serving God.
Surely that has a lot to say about the church’s role as a voice that speaks out against abuse of power and false leaders but also a challenge to keep Jesus right at the centre of the debate. People don’t want to talk about Jesus, they want to talk about issues, the problem with that is that it makes us reactionary; only responding to the agenda the world sets rather than setting Jesus out as the Son of God, the only saviour and the only hope this world has. His claim to absolute authority over our lives is completely offensive to many but it is the issue.
Thanks again Paul for some helpful reminders. I was thinking a while back about the authority and sovereignty issue and was thinking that all the time we can think about a situation or teaching that relates to the Lord’s dealings with us and the world and find ourselves saying (either in our hearts or out loud) “That’s not fair!”, it just shows how much we don’t “get it” as far as His authority is concerned. As Christians we need to be brought constantly back to this fundamental truth of Jesus’ lordship over our lives, and of course teaching it to others as we present the gospel.
“People don’t want to talk about Jesus, they want to talk about issues”