What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said? – By Rev George Ong (Dated 1 Mar 2021)
Most of us would have been taken aback and even shocked at the words of the Lord Jesus. This is because many of His words and teachings are rather radical and hard to accept. Many, including Bible scholars and commentators, have tried to explain away the hard sayings of Jesus by the view that He didn’t really mean what He said.
But what if Jesus really meant what He said?
What if His simple and straightforward message was meant to be taken at face value that a child could understand it even though it may be hard to accept?
What if Jesus really meant what He said that the narrow road to eternal life is only for the few who would make it (Matt 7:14)?
What if Jesus meant what He said that we are to strive to enter the narrow gate and walk the narrow road of salvation that many will try to enter but couldn’t (Lk 13:24)?
What if Jesus meant what He said that the Christian life is one of reproach, persecution, suffering, and possible martyrdom (Matt 5:10; 24:9, Mk 13:13; Lk 21:17; Jn 15:19-20)?
What if Jesus meant what He said that if we do not hate our father, mother, wife, children, siblings (love Christ more than we love them) and even our own lives, and give up everything, we cannot be His disciple (Lk 14:26,33)?
Why do we hold the view that Jesus only meant some of the things He said and not others?
Almost every believer, without any hesitance, would say that Jesus meant what He said in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” and Matthew 28:20: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
But many would have problems with what Jesus said to the rich man that he had to obey the commandments of God and sell away his possessions in order to inherit eternal life (Matt 19:18-21).
They would also have problems with what Jesus said in the parable in Matthew 18:34-35: “In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Did Jesus really mean what he said to the rich man in Matthew 19:18-21 and us in the parable in Matthew 18:34-35? Strangely, we are not so sure that Jesus really meant those words. What if Jesus was just as serious about those words as He was with all the rest of what He said in the scriptures?
What if it were true that we would not enter heaven if we do not take the narrow road, and only a few would travel on it (Matt 7:14)?
What if it were true that we would actually be banished to hell if we do not deal with the sin of anger, which, to Jesus, is equivalent to murder (Matt 5:21-22)?
What if it were true that Jesus said Father God would not forgive us if we refuse to forgive others (Matt 18:21-35)?
What if it were true that Jesus would judge us and decide our eternal destiny based on our deeds, not just our beliefs (Matt 25)?
What if it were true that Jesus would bar those who fail to obey the Father’s will from entering the kingdom of heaven (Matt 7:21-23)?
What if it were true that what you didn’t do – the five foolish virgins who didn’t have enough oil, the servant who didn’t invest his only talent, and those who didn’t take care of the least of their brethren – can send you to hell (Matt 25:8-13, 24-30, 41-46)?
Jesus must have meant everything that He said whether those things were soothingly comforting or disturbingly discomforting.
If we are honest, it now becomes clear that the real reason we easily accept those things Jesus said is that they are soothingly comforting. But those things we find hard to accept that Jesus really meant what He said are that which are disturbingly discomforting.
What is said by Jesus that is easy or hard to accept is finally not because it is an interpretive issue due to the difficulty of a passage, but whether it impinges on our comfort zone?
Friends, we cannot allow our comfort zone to affect how we see and interpret the scriptures and determine the truth and acceptability of Jesus’ words and teachings.
If we do, we are no different from Joseph Prince, who twists and distorts the scriptures through the eyes of his cheap grace theology – thereby making his grace doctrine as the final authority and not the scriptures.
Anything of what Jesus said in the scriptures that goes along with his cheap grace doctrine, Joseph Prince readily embraces. But anything of what Jesus said in the scriptures that demands a price and represents costly grace, and does not flow with his cheap grace theology, he resoundingly rejects or ‘imaginatively’ explains it away.
Would a true teacher of God’s word selectively accept or reject the words and teachings of Jesus based on the authority of his own human grace doctrine?
Rev George Ong