The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Jesus was mean and harsh

I don’t get it and I never have, this love for Jesus. Do we read the same bible? I can open the NT in the gospels and more likely than not find Jesus speaking harsh or depressing words, doom and gloom.

Its downright Orwellian to me to speak of Jesus as being loving and kind when he seems so filled with bitterness and anger. I just don’t get it; its like the emperor’s new clothes. :confused:

Look carefully when he was harsh, to whom, upon what occasion, with what words and to what effect. Generally you will see that He was trying to wake up the self-righteous; point out hypocrisy, or warn of the coming destruction of Jerusalem.
If harshness iwas the only thing that would begin the healing process, then that is what was needful. Why should we or the Pharisees wallow in self-delusion and yet think we are the righteous, and complain that someone comes along and shouts till we finally ‘get it’?

No, He knew exactly what he was doing, and did it in love for his Father and ours, and used the methods of awakening that each person needed.

IMO :smiley:

I just don’t see it. For example, look at Mark 6:10-11.

"10 Also He said to them, “In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. 11 And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”

What’s with the threats? Why not just say “if you’re not received, just be on your way”.

God knows what each person needs when it comes to correction. If I respond to my son running in the street without looking with a ‘oh son, try and look next time, OK?’ Is that really a proper response? Failure to provide energy behind it and a firm punishment is sure to be remembered… Just an example.


I think that He’s giving his disciples a means to really warn those that are rejecting His message. They symbolic act of shaking the dust off one’s clothing is a great visual and could not help but impress or anger those whom it was directed towards. Again, it sounds harsh, but waking people up sometimes takes that.
Does that make sense? :smiley:

…again it’s all in the injunction “you guys NEED to listen because if you don’t bad things are coming your way”. Jesus’ language was all pretty natural and normal, not forced or papered over like candy. What member of a (loving) family doesn’t get animated with feeling when rebuke might be called for to shape potentially toxic lethargy?

It has been said and IMO opinion rings true… “one will not believe what one does not want to believe.” Call me a cynic, but IF you don’t want to see it you won’t – and so any excuse to dismiss such will suffice.

Well what was it that Jesus was warning the people he spoke so harshly to? If not hell, then what? The destruction of Israel? Happened anyway, whether one was a follower of Jesus or not.

And then there’s the (seeming) lack of humility: Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Its just the overall tone I get from Jesus. Its been this way all my life; I just don’t see the appeal. I just don’t get it. :confused:

Ok cynic.

It was indeed the DoJ… those who “listened” i.e., they changed their minds [repentance] demonstrated with attendant actions, were “savedMt 24:13, that is, delivered out of harms way, as per Lk 21:20-21.

But what does that have to do with me today? Why is that even included in the Bible?

Further, if it was the destruction of Jerusalem that was the issue, then how is that worse than what happened to Sodom (as Jesus warned)?

I’m really trying to get this. All my life I’ve had a love/hate thing with God. From childhood Jesus was a frightening figure to me. On the other hand I have always had a strong attraction to, we’ll call it, “God”. Especially when I encountered beauty in nature and art. Its still that way now.

But with Christianity I find such contradictions. Its supposed to be about love and grace, but I only get that when I read people like Paul, or mystics like Isaac of Syria. Not Jesus.

Jesus was born at a time and in a place of great unrest both politically and religiously, and those things could not be ignored. He could not sit under the Banyan tree like Gautama :smiley: . However it is good to realize that those close to him loved him very much, adored and indeed worshipped him. A mean and harsh person would not get that type of devotion.
As well, if we look closely at the letters written by the pastors and missionaries closest to His time, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, there is a sweetness and love, along with a ‘good’ sternness and challenge to be our best, that is heartening and imo shows what Jesus is able to do now that his earthly mission is over. After all, He was limited to one body, and basically to one mission, that is, to seek and save the lost of the house of Israel in a very precarious time. Now, we understand that his resurrection was of universal importance and significance, and that all things are subject to his sovereign love. Which is the way he has always been, and the way his Father has always been. Sin and our rebellion caused his love to take the form of correction, prodding, urging, threatening, judging, waking up, shattering the foundations, SHOUTING what needed to be heard.
Who could deny that we still need that? Really, looking at the world now, would we not wish things to be set right?

I’m rambling now. :blush: What you and I need is to ask for the love of God (for God, from God) to be shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. That’s the ground we need to put our roots in - love.

Hi Andrei… it was included in the bible because it was pertinent to the generation in view and consequently prophetically relevant. Jesus was using Sodom as a comparison of an in-kind fiery judgment to come. The “more tolerable” statement was with regards to Israel and its knowledge of God, as opposed to Sodom’s basic ignorance; Israel thus being more culpable etc.

So what this has to do with you today… well in terms of future judgment, “nothing” as that has been dealt with – that is the benefit afforded to all humanity since, i.e., the reconciliation.

I could be wrong but I suspect your “love/hate thing with God” like many has been the result of religianity having sold you down the river. Just because churchianity has misrepresented the gospel doesn’t mean God is a rogue… the message has been botched. Fortunately however God’s grace reaches beyond human foolishness.

Hi Andre
I have a lot of sympathy with what you are saying. I may be looking through rose-tinted spectacles but I generally think that Jesus spoke very harshly to those who were oppressing the poor and needy (and spiritually needy). Those harsh words were said in front of the ‘oppressed’ and would be an encouragement (IMO).
However, you quote a good scripture to support your feelings and this was NOT to the oppressors:

I don’t see any direct threats in this text. No-one was told to speak harshly to those who weren’t receptive - just to leave and don’t bother going back (ie dust off feet). BUT I agree that the ‘testimony against them’ and ‘more tolerable for SandG’ seems to portray a bitter and harsh spirit. I honestly think that those who deny it must be pretty desperate not to see it (perhaps through fear or a weak faith? Who knows?’ The way its written, it seems that Jesus wanted the disciples to understand that 'these nasty people are gonna get their comeuppance, so you mustn’t feel bad about the way you were treated. That, to me, clearly smells of ‘revenge is sweet and its coming’.
So, to me, you raise an excellent point. I also have noticed similarly confusing sentiments elsewhere in the NT.
Gabe says:

That may be true, but I don’t see it is relevant in this case because Jesus instruction was towards ALL who were not receptive and ALL doesn’t take into account any individuals circumstances or possibly excusable reasons.

Andre and I (or anybody) would have to be MAD not to WANT to see it. My question is why so many of our regulars DONT see the elephant in the room pointed out by Andre.

Again, I have sympathy with this statement because I see quite a few apparent contradictions in the NT (e.g. ‘Judge not’, then later … ‘Judge’).
However, when you say that

I can imagine that your mind could well be prioritising those harsh passages and dwelling on those selectively to the exclusion of the comforting and explicitly loving passages of Jesus.
Let me offer some possibilities:

  1. The NT is just a COMPLETE load of Bull - if so, no more need be said.

  2. We are mis-reading or misunderstanding those passages - this is the approach some of my friends here are suggesting, and I will add yet another speculative attempt at the ‘dust off your feet’ passage:
    I wonder if, having commissioned those disciples, they were endued with an authority and a power with which we are unfamiliar today [Mar 6:7 And He called the Twelve near and began to send them out two by two. And He gave them authority over the unclean spirits,] In which case, it is possible that we should view the proclamations very differently to those anyone might give nowadays. Perhaps, when the disciples spoke on THIS SPECIFIC mission, the Spirit of God spoke directly to the hearts of those hearing the message and the hearers (in their spirits) actually had an encounter with our God of Love? If this was the case, then most would embrace such a God and be overjoyed to receive this message. But some who had let evil dominate their spirits and were imprisoned by their own sinful nature, would need a future purging in order to be reconciled to this God of Love. The reference to Sand G is interesting because we are told in scripture that S and G WILL be restored and so we can be confident that the awful consequence is actually a painful purification process. Just speculation but I become more and more aware how difficult it is for us 21st Century Westerners to have any idea what the scriptures are actually trying to say.

  3. We shouldn’t ‘idolise’ the Bible so much as if it were the Word of God. Perhaps it is full of errors, prejudices, etc and it was never meant to be anything else. I say this because I see no indication (from scripture) that it should be treated as ‘the Word of God’ nor that it should be given as much authority as that Spirit which is within you and I Andre. Doesn’t one text even say it is the Spirit who will lead us into truth (not the texts). Why didn’t Jesus give copious dictations to be left as perfect written documents for us? I’m sure he would have if he’d wanted us to treat the Bible in the way most western churches DO! Surely He wants us to rely on that inner voice of the Spirit.

Sorry but I’ve got to go. I’ve probably said too much anyway. xxx

I think you have said much sense Pilgrim. I am glad this topic has come up. My contribution would be this. In the time line there is a real difference between before and after the cross. Jesus ministry was mostly carried out targeted towards the Jews and in the light of the Old Testament law. It is very noticeable that thoughout his teaching that Jesus added weight to the law rather than soften it. He did also correct some very obvious misrepresentations along they way as well. To give an example from the sermon on mount in respect of the sin of adultery he says that merely to look on a woman in lust is to have committed adultery with her I the heart. I guess this can occur in the opposite direction but being a mere man how would I know :wink:. I mean that’s a bit stiff Jesus surly you devised sex drive so we could be fruitful and multiply - get real! Be all that as it may and attribute seriousness to the judgment of sins mild or heinous, Jesus died to save sinners. I think Jesus wanted to make it plain that we were and are stuffed and helpless without him. The Jews relied on there law. Jesus queried them saying you search the scriptures because in them you think you have eternal life yet these are they which speak of me. The whole point is that they were barking up the wrong tree. If you have a dog which does this then you can get a spray that renders the tree obnoxious or horrible to the dog. You may recall Jesus said that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees you will not even see the Kingdom of Heaven. That’s us done for said his disciples.! Jesus reply was that with man it’s impossible but with God al l things are possible. I love the books of Adrian Plass. He refers to the event I’ve just described where one of the ordinary men was standing close to Jesus as he spoke these words and he pulled on his sleeve and said Master is that true? Yes it is replied Jesus. So the guy was crestfallen and said well I’ve had it then. Jesus whispered in his ear. That was for them - you just stick with me and it will all be fine! So the long and short of it is that sticking with Jesus is the best game in town.

Thank you all for your replies. I have much to think about now.

Interestingly, my husband was expressing this same sentiment to me recently – that Jesus was not someone he could love, that when he read the gospels all he heard was judgment and condemnation. That seems so foreign to me. Recently he’s begun to see Jesus differently. Maybe if I tag him he’ll come talk about it with you. [tag]Dave Johnson[/tag]



My impression is that if we’ve been told that Jesus is a loving soul who is sweetly gracious, and who thus just passively absorbs those who bring evil, we will find him (though short of doing physical harm to them) to actually seem quite harshly aggressive. Phillip Yancey had this reaction when he compared the text to what he’d heard in Sunday School and thus wrote “The Jesus I Never Knew,” which has a chapter on Jesus’ offensive, abrasive side. Still, one of the fascinating things to me is how various factors lead each of us to add it up differently. My own impression is that Jesus could be grossly confrontational with those he saw as oppressing the little people, and my sense is that religion can indeed promote a lot of pain for struggling people. Thus, since I seem to root for the little guy, (even if it seems his rhetoric gets overboard at times) I especially love many of the very scenes where Jesus (as he hero for me) confronts leaders that he perceives hypocritically laying great burdens on others, while boosting their own arrogance. Each of your many good observations deserves reflection, but I do find that some seem to go beyond balanced reason. For example, you seemed to criticize him for warning about the consequences of destruction that would come from the course they were on, on the grounds that his warnings of severe outcomes did not avert those disasters anyway. But must we only urge constructive choices upon those we somehow know will heed the message and change direction? I’d like to think that even Jesus’ nastiest remarks were motivated by a genuine caring that hoped to wake the hardest hearts out of shooting themselves and others in the foot (though I’ll admit that if I said some of those things, you’d be right to wonder about my real motives). Blessing on you in your honest desire to sort out these tough questions.

All the best to you,


While I agree there are things Jesus is portrayed as saying that I have a problem with (the thing you mentioned concerning ‘whoever loves father or mother, etc. more than Me is not worthy of Me’ is one of them – I honestly just assume that I don’t understand it yet.), the other saying you quoted:

doesn’t actually seem like a problem to me. It used to, but since I’ve gone UR, it’s taken on a whole different light. Sodom and Gomorrah will be restored according to scripture – and perhaps they’ve already had their judgment and on the Day, will repent easily. Regardless of whether this speculation is so, as someone else said, they received NO testimony, let alone one in which signs and wonders were done and the true good news was preached to them. The cities to whom Jesus sent His followers WERE being given these signs, and if they refused to respond to them, then OF COURSE their judgment would have to be harsher than that of S & G. It’s only right that the one with fewer opportunities to repent and believe will be given some leeway over the one with many opportunities.

Because of that, I really DON’T see this as a problem scripture. I’m not stretching at all when I tell you that I think this saying was a mere statement of fact. It will be worse for them because they knew better and because they saw things that S & G did not get the chance to see. Not that it will be impossible or that they will not be saved in the DAY, but that they rejected a clear witness and so have hardened their hearts against the truth. It will be hard for them to reverse this unfortunate decision. It will be easier for S & G, who have NOT hardened their hearts against a clearly presented display of the love and saving power of God.

Blessings, Cindy