It's inevitable. I post something on social media that challenges the status quo of post-modern relativism, and someone comments something along the lines of, "But Jesus never excluded anyone!" or "Labeling people is wrong!" or "Jesus promoted tolerance!" When I hear claims like this, I often wonder if the commenter read the same thing I did in Matthew's gospel that morning.
If you get all your information about Jesus from second-hand sources like devotionals, popular speakers, blogs, memes, tweets, and Facebook posts, you may find yourself a bit uncomfortable when you encounter the actual Jesus of the New Testament. If you only rely on social media to tell you who Jesus is, you might find yourself praying to a New Age Jewish hippie guru who sings Strawberry Fields Forever while demanding nothing of the super cool sinners He so loves to hang out with, and accepting everyone just as they are—except those nasty Pharisees of course. (Who just so happen to represent everyone who might disagree with whatever agenda is being peddled in the post.)
But this is not an accurate picture of the real Jesus. The Jesus of history is arguably one of the most divisive people who has ever lived.
In fact, He described His purpose like this: "Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division" (Luke 12:51). He went on to predict that even families would be divided against each other because of Him. He said in Matthew's gospel, "I didn't come to bring peace but a sword" (10:34).
He didn't mince words, and He wasn't afraid to address people's pet sins.
After all, we're talking about the One who will eventually separate people into two groups: sheep and goats. (Talk about labels!) In fact, Jesus will return to judge every single person who has ever lived...even you and me.
Did Jesus label people?
I recently found a very helpful article that lists the labels Jesus used. Here are some of them:
Enemies (Matthew 5:44)
Pagans (Matthew 5:47)
Devil (John 6:70)
Robbers (John 10:8)
Hypocrites (Matthew 6:2)
Thieves (Matthew 6:20)
Sinful generation (Mark 8:38)
Adulterous generation (Mark 8:38)
Dogs (Matthew 7:6)
Pigs (Matthew 7:6)
Evil man (Luke 6:45)
Unbelieving (Luke 9:41)
Perverse (Luke 9:41)
Foolish people (Luke 11:39)
False prophets (Matthew 7:15)
Dead (Matthew 8:22)
Unclean (Mark 7:23)
Wolves (Matthew 10:16)
Blind guides (Matthew 15:14)
Satan (Matthew 16:24)
Perverse generation (Matthew 17:17)
Murderers (Matthew 22:7)
Whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:27)
Serpents (Matthew 23:27)
Brood of vipers (Matthew 23:33)
Cursed (Matthew 25:41)
Did Jesus exclude people?
In Matthew 21:12-17 and John 2:13-22, Jesus drove the money-changers out of the temple for making God's house a "den of robbers." In John's account, he used a handmade whip and also turned over their tables.
In Luke 10, Jesus condemned three entire cities to hell. He pronounced "Woe" upon the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, and explained that the day of judgment will be more tolerable for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (famously destroyed by fire from heaven for their immorality and their blatant rejection of God's ways) than it will be for them.
In Matthew 7:22-23, Jesus explains that anyone who does not do the will of His Father will be excluded with these words: "I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness."
When considering the exclusive nature of Jesus, we can't ignore the book of Revelation. In His letter to the church at Thyatira in chapter 2, He actually criticized the church for the sin of tolerance. They were "tolerating" the false prophetess Jezebel, and He went on to pronounce judgment on her.
The bottom line....
Of course, this is just one aspect of who Jesus is. Jesus is unapologetically intolerant of sin, but He is all-inclusive in His offer of salvation for those who repent and put their faith in Him. It's important that we understand Jesus the way the Bible actually presents Him, and not in a caricatured or myopic way. He was divisive and exclusive—but He was also the most compassionate, selfless, and truthful person to ever walk the earth.
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10/24/2017 07:07:32 am
I was so happy to read this today! After just trying to explain that to someone, I was beginning to think I was wrong. If you read the actual bible you will understand this. Most people never have read the bible, but they claim to know all. Thanks for posting!
2/19/2021 02:50:15 pm
I've been called hipocrite for challenging others to turn away from their sin nature. It is because i have been redeemed, forgiven, washed in the blood, born again to the newness of life, should i not labor for Christ in calling out the sin nature i see in those i love ? My hearts desire is to share my testimony of Yeshua to all who have ears to hear that some, many, all, be saved. I am encouraged by reading this article
Ginger Diane Russell
11/28/2021 08:26:19 am
Thank you for this post. So many think of Jesus as this Love hippie that did not speak out and address the sins and evil of the day. Today that is considered unloving.
6/3/2022 11:04:12 pm
Impressive. Indulging in division feeds the soul.
10/24/2017 07:50:33 am
Thanks Alisa, good blog!
10/24/2017 09:44:16 am
Alisa - thanks for not pulling any punches, staying true to the Scripture and telling it like it is.
10/26/2017 03:27:20 am
Thank you Alisa, for airing the truth. It took me nearly 40yrs looking for the truth, after departing from the RC liars , and although I tried to read the Bible at various times, I could not get far into Genesis. This is what I feel is a major flaw in its presentation. The New Testement should be first , for 2 reasons. 1) This is the last Testement, that we are to live by , and 2) It is the first port of call for new readers.
10/30/2017 09:21:47 am
Oswald Chambers writes:
11/2/2017 02:02:42 pm
I have also encountered this same issue. People think they know the God of the Bible without ever reading his word. I've found out if you challenge them people get very offensive, even if you do it lovingly. It breaks my heart...
I very much enjoyed your article, but have a different perspective on some of your points.Your article asks the question of whether Jesus labeled or excluded anyone. You give good examples of labeling. You also mention the division that Jesus would cause as described in Luke 12:51.
9/12/2019 11:22:26 am
Yes. I agree and like your observations. Very true
6/6/2022 06:43:14 pm
Thank you Tom. If we exclude others, we can’t love them.
7/13/2022 03:13:50 pm
Jesus did not hang around with them like
6/28/2018 11:47:28 am
Hi! One thing I notice is that all of the labels Jesus uses pertain to morality (except for Publican). In other words, his labels are not based on ideology or politics or nationality, but rather on whether someone is being a moral person.
6/15/2019 07:18:55 pm
Your argument is deeply flawed.
7/14/2022 09:56:34 am
Are you saying Alisa should not judge?
7/3/2020 09:27:02 pm
Alisa, another thing you touched upon some, but not entirely is when the disciples of Jesus came to him to after he had soundly rounded out the lawyers, scribes and Pharisees for blocking entry into God's Kingdom and for being hypocrites. The disciples asked if he knew that he was offending them. Jesus said, "Every plant that my Heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Leave them alone, for they are blind leaders of the blind." The Greek word 'leave' is the same as forgive, but in this context means instead to send them (the lawyers, scribes and Pharisees) away...leave them be.
3/21/2021 05:01:53 pm
You set all this up as a counterpoint to three statements. "But Jesus never excluded anyone!" or "Labeling people is wrong!" or "Jesus promoted tolerance!"
11/27/2021 06:19:46 pm
In addition to my previous comment, which I'm sure you won't post, I would like to add that there are many environmental factors today that weren't around in biblical times which cause mental illness such as: processed foods, chemicals in foods we eat and not to mention babies who's mothers used drugs while they were pregnant which undoubtedly cause mental issues in these humans, to no fault of their own. So your answer is to exclude them??? Shun them for something that is not in their control? No. This is wrong and against everything Jesus stood for.As Christians we need to understand that compassion is key. Human beings have souls that desperately need the love of God in their lives so they know they are not alone in their struggles. for. Them and shunning them is evil. Ooen your heart and you will feel the love of God directing you to stop exclusion.
5/25/2022 06:37:46 pm
I think this blog has broken the camels back. I no longer find just organised religion distasteful, but Jesus too. In fact he sounds like a real 'not so nice word'. I also didn't realise he passed judgement, I believed in him because I thought he didn't. I was under the impression he just have us the tools and opportunity to reach heaven. Love everyone, treat others how you want to be treated and all that jazz.
6/8/2022 01:24:16 am
Jesus cannot require you to love others while simultaneously not passing judgement on you, because he must judge whether or not you have actually loved others as he commanded, correct? Commands mean nothing if there is no judge to determine if said commandments have been followed.
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