“Are you stupid? How could you still not get it? You’re just the Devil himself. You’re in my way and you’re ungodly!”
Sounds pretty harsh, doesn’t it? Who would say such insulting things?
Would you believe that Jesus said them? In America, we’ve attempted to remake Jesus in our image – to domesticate him to fit our concept of what the ideal loving savior should be.
The problem is: our picture of Jesus may only be one part of the picture. Yes, Jesus taught and demonstrated love – not just for friends, but for enemies as well. He promoted forgiveness and freely gave it.
But he also said those things quoted above. Well, OK, those aren’t exact quotes. What he actually said was:
“Are you still so dull?”(Matthew 15:16). “How is it you don't understand” (Matthew 16:11). “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God” (Matthew 16:23).
And that’s what he said to his closest friends! To his enemies, his language was even stronger. In addition to calling them snakes, hypocrites, whitewashed graves, sons of hell, and blind fools, he also said: “You belong to your father, the devil” (John 8:44). “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good?” (Matthew 12:34). “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25: 41).
The same Jesus who was called “Prince of Peace” said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34).
Wow! Was Jesus mean?
No, he was good and kind and people loved him. But he was also fiery and passionate and determined to let nobody stand in the way of winning the war he came to fight. Just as we would expect a general in the heat of battle to bark orders without much concern for politeness, we can understand why Jesus spoke strongly. The battle was intense. Not only was his life threatened, but the eternal destiny of every person in the world hung in the balance. It was no time for subtlety.
Perhaps we should revisit those words written in red more often to be reminded of the urgency of Jesus’ mission. It might help us to recapture some of his fire and passion if we see more often that side of our savior that may have been forgotten. After all, the war is still on. And the casualties are people dear to us. Are we sometimes still so dull that we don’t get it?