Why was Jesus so offensive?

Published 2:52 pm Thursday, June 6, 2019


Religion Columnist

Why was Jesus so offensive to so many people? We may not like to think about it, but he really did rub a lot of people the wrong way. His family came to get him because they thought he was going crazy (Mark 3:21).  John the Baptist sends disciples to check to see if Jesus really is the Messiah (Luke 7:18-23).  Many of his disciples (not the twelve) and many others left him because they didn’t like some of his teachings (John 6:60-71). 

Email newsletter signup

Judas betrayed Jesus. Peter denied Jesus. He called the religious elite a brood of vipers and scorpions. They hated Jesus. Government leaders were uncertain what to do with him, as we see Pilate and Herod passing him back and forth. 

A friend once commented to me, “If you really want to kill a conversation just drop the name of Jesus.  Not only will people become silent, they will look for a way to leave the room.” Jesus is still offensive to people today. 

People may wonder how this man who revealed the perfect love of God could be so offensive. I offer three reasons for us to ponder today. If you are uncomfortable with Jesus, you may see some explanation why in one or more of these reasons. 

The kind of love Jesus taught was so radical. It is much easier for us to talk about how loving Jesus was,  than to be as loving as Jesus calls us to be.  The Old Testament tells us to “Love our neighbor as our self” (Leviticus 19:18), which Jesus quoted many times.  But Jesus went much further when he said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44).  Given that most of our enemies are ex-spouses, mean bosses, rebellious children or abrasive family members this is a very hard command to live by.  Jesus makes it even harder when he says things like, “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:15).

     Secondly, Jesus expected people to live by the highest moral standard they could possibly achieve.  When he healed people or rescued them, he would often say something like, “Go, and sin no more (e.g. John 8:11).

Jesus fought with the religious elite about the way they treated people, their hypocrisy and their arrogance.  He had the highest standards of sexual purity, and that never goes over well.  Justice, righteousness and humility were of the utmost importance to Jesus. 

Finally, Jesus calls people to lose the battle of wills with God, and if they do they will find the abundant life God has planned for us. He said, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39).

We are much more interested in control, establishing our own security and taking care of our self.  A little bit of Jesus is a good thing, like all that stuff about loving generic people, but we don’t want to go overboard or people might think we’re freaks. 

Today, I want to challenge you to discern what offends you about Jesus.  Do you know when the things Jesus teaches and expects of his disciples intrudes on the immoral ways you want to live, or do you experience some form of judgment you don’t think is fair when you read the Bible? 

Here is how you know where your weak areas are. To begin, remember Jesus never defended himself.  He only defended others. He defended adulterers, children, tax collectors, lepers, the lame and many others, but not himself.  When you find yourself defending yourself, your actions, your motives, then most of the time you are in a place to feel offended by Jesus. You have found your weak area. 

If you are willing to be honest with yourself and discover these weak areas, then you need to lift them up to God in prayer, and humbly ask for God’s forgiveness, guidance and how you can let go of your offense. 

Will you take some time to think about the areas that offend you about Jesus?  How is it hard to love like Jesus loved?  Where is your moral compass weak?  How are you doing in the battle of wills with God?  Do you want to have a more mature faith without concern for what others think?

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles go to  www.lagrangepres.com.