by Kim Josephson
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matt. 23:27-33)
The first time you read these words, you think surely they must be from one of the Old Testament prophets, but this is not the case. They are words in red in my Bible. They are from the mouth of “gentle Jesus - meek and mild”. They, like all the words in the chapter beginning with verse 2 rail in judgement against the excesses of the religious system. In our generation we know nothing of this Jesus. Most of us are biblically ignorant of this chapter and others like it.
In John chapter 2,
when Jesus went up to the temple and found it full of oxen, sheep, doves, and
money changers, the Bible says he went out, and made a scourge of small cords,
came back to the temple and drove out all the animals and the money changers,
overturning their tables and denouncing them for their despicable behavior. Do
we know this Jesus, or are we dismayed at His intolerance? Does this Jesus make
you uncomfortable? Do you feel like you need to apologize for Him or at least
explain such an outburst?
We do not know this Jesus who upbraids the cities wherein most of His mighty works were done because they repented not (Matt. 11:20). We do not know Him because He has been stolen away from the Church! It was said of Him “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” (Jn. 2:17) and yet we know little of this heart.
Today, we are given a different Jesus. We are given a Jesus who never gets angry. We are given a Jesus who never speaks out of turn. We are given a Jesus who never bucks any authority. We are only given “gentle Jesus - meek and mild”. Unfortunately, this is not the Jesus of the Bible. Though Jesus came not to condemn the world, there was nothing but condemnation to those who dared not repent. Read it, “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgement than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgement, than for thee.” (Matt. 11:21-24) Is this not Jesus doing just as He commanded in Matt. 10:14 - shaking off the dust of the city as a testimony against it? We don’t know this Jesus.
Has anyone ever seen the men of God shake the dust off their feet against a wicked city? I’ve never seen it. Jesus intended for us to command men to repent, and then run to the next city or town with the Good News. He never intended for men to “vex their righteous souls daily” in the midst of some Sodom. It only led to compromise in Lot’s life and it has done the same in the life of the Church ever since. We are forever building new works among the scoffers while millions die having never heard the Good News even once!
Today, the churches long to hear more and more about the unconditional love of Christ, yet on almost every page of His testimony - the Gospels - He qualifies and conditions His love. Read it, Matt. 10:33 “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” That’s a condition, isn’t it? Or how about in Matt. 7:21? “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven”. The condition is doing the will of the Father, isn't it? The Jesus of the Bible straight out gives the conditions which must be met for salvation.
Remember John 3:3. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”. And then in vs. 7 “… Ye must be born again”. Today we're given a Jesus who accepts all sincere devotion - all faiths and even simple good intentions. But this is not the Jesus of the Bible! Folks, these requirements (conditions) that Jesus demands cannot be dismissed by the rhetoric of modern day theology. Read Matt. 25 beginning at vs. 31! Do we know this Jesus?
See Luke: 14:26-27, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” Verse 33, “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” These are staggering words, yet they are straight from the mouth of Jesus Christ. We must not try to dance around them, and God forbid that we should buy into any lie that would exempt us from the weight of these words. Church, we must simply embrace them, and conform to them.
Finally in John 15:14, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you”. How narrow can you get?! But instead of a Jesus like this, we are told over and over about a Jesus that “understands” our disobedience and rank rebellion and is thankful that we’ve made it back to church on Sunday.
Jesus is sick of
the drivel that misrepresents Him. Yes, He so loved the world that He laid down
His life, but whether that love will be of any benefit to a man depends on the
man’s response. Will he repent of sin? Will he make Jesus his Lord? Will he die
to himself? Will he abide in Jesus’ Word? These are all conditions that must be
met for the love of Christ to affect a life!
Why is the Church content to accept some other Jesus? What’s wrong with the Jesus of the Bible? Why have we allowed ourselves to be carried away into the excesses of this religious junk? Let us return to Christ. Let us accept His every word. If we don’t understand His words then let us pray for wisdom and search the scriptures for the whole counsel of God. But God forbid that we should buy this one dimensional cardboard cutout of Christ that is being pitched by modern theologians. What did Jesus say? Read His words! I suggest you get into the Gospels and find out exactly what He said. Read it for yourself - I’m sure you’ll be startled. I know I am!