One of the most troubling things about the real Jesus was that He could not be manipulated to support anyone’s agenda. He was at once the most tolerant and the most intolerant person people had ever encountered.
Jesus loved everyone. But this love looked a bit different, depending upon the attitudes of the people who came Him. Jesus was amazingly tolerant toward those who recognized their spiritual sickness and their need for moral change – no matter what their reputation was or how bad they had messed up their life. Bu Jesus was intolerant of those who not only couldn’t see their own need, but who had an agenda to make their particular flavor of sin the lifestyle of choice by the mainstream. Actually, Jesus often expressed outright anger toward those who condemned others but couldn’t see their own sins.
Now depending upon your particular religious, social, moral, political, or sexual slant, you probably see Jesus through a lens that’s too narrow. We all tend to make-believe that Jesus loves the same folks we love and hates the same folks we hate. But He just doesn’t play ball with anyone who doesn’t see the Father the way He does and who doesn’t see sin the way He sees it
One of the big accusations against Jesus from the hardcore religious folks was that He was, “a friend of sinners,” and that He, “ate with sinners.” He had compassion on those caught in and tarnished by sin. The Pharisees and scribes accused Jesus of being soft on sinners, and they bitterly opposed Him for this. Actually, it was probably a fair estimation, to call Jesus soft on sinners – with one caveat. Jesus was soft on sinners WHO ADMITTED THEIR NEED FOR CHANGE.
The reality was (and is) that Jesus was never soft on sin. But He was respectful to all people and especially kind and patient with sinners who were tired of their sins, or who felt trapped by their sins, and desired a way out. Jesus gave them forgiveness, healing, and hope.
But to those who wanted to maintain their own sense of self-righteousness and deny the sinful issues in their lives and pretend they were better than their enemies, Jesus was often not only intolerant but clearly confrontational. Perhaps the main reason that Jesus was rejected by His culture and was crucified was that He fearlessly confronted that society with their sins of self-righteousness and unbelief.
There are some very stark differences between the tolerance and intolerance that Jesus demonstrated and the counterfeits for the same we see today. This we will look at next time.