This Is A Hard Saying
Jesus earned quite the reputation for crazy, difficult, and hard sayings during His 3 1/2-year ministry on this planet. He said things like “…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you”; and, “…it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”; and, “…let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God”; and, perhaps the craziest, “…if anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” At one point, the Apostle John says the crowd, that followed Jesus, could take it no longer and said: “…this is a hard saying; who can understand it?” At that Jesus turned to them & asked them, “Does this offend you?…there are some of you who do not believe.” (John 6:60ff)
Flushing Out The Unbelievers
In that statement, we gain some insight into the reason for Jesus’ hard sayings— He intended to flush out the unbelievers, in the crowd, so they might acknowledge their unbelieving hearts & come to genuine faith; so that, they might trust Christ for salvation. Unfortunately, I’ve read more than one commentary try and explain away what Jesus said…. trying to soften the blow of His message by making it more palatable and politically correct! But, when you try and “sanitize” His message it loses the impact of the Gospel. Jesus fully intended to be offensive to His self-righteous audience; and, to shake up the religious leaders that taught a works-based, performance-driven salvation— “If your righteousness does not exceed that of the Pharisees,” He said, “you’ll never see heaven.” To the rich man, He said: “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” In all His “hard sayings,” Jesus was putting a spotlight on the false gods and idols in people’s lives. These were the things that people valued more than Creator God; and, Jesus exposed their idolatry! The salvation God offers through Jesus is “free”, but it will cost you everything! God will not share the throne of your life with anyone or anything! When you accept the terms of His salvation, you give up all “rights” to your life. “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price” 1 Cor. 6:19-20
But Aren’t Idols Bad Things?
That’s what we think; so, we try to re-interpret what Jesus said because He just couldn’t be calling all those good things we love— like family, career, our standing in the public eye— as idols, could He? We want to believe that idols are bad things; but, that’s rarely the case! Tim Keller, in his excellent book Counterfeit Gods, says, “…the greater the ‘good’, the more likely we are to expect that it can satisfy our deepest needs and hopes. Anything can serve as a counterfeit god, especially the very best things in life.” Jesus came to set things in order— God’s in charge; He is King; He is Lord; and, He alone is to be worshipped! He has all authority over my life; and, He is to be valued as the ONLY treasure, above all His creation! Even good things become bad things when they take the place of the best! God is the BEST! He never created anything we love & enjoy to take His place in our lives! We need to see them as gifts; because they make very poor “gods.”