Religious people hated him with a passion. Some considered him to be a dangerous revolutionary. Others saw him as a wise but harmless teacher. His family thought he was crazy. He had a reputation for being a drunkard and friend of sinners. He was called a liar and false prophet. After hearing him preach, the people in his hometown tried to throw him off a cliff.
Jesus was hated, because he told the world that its ways are evil. He declared himself to be the truth and the life and the only way back to God. He openly talked about the destruction of the planet by fire. He warned people about the coming Judgment. Jesus called out entire cities by name and said that they would go to Hell if they did not repent of their sins.
Jesus was not politically correct. He always spoke the truth and was not afraid of men. The high priest could not intimidate him. A king and governor didn’t know what to do with him. He stood up to the corrupt rulers and authorities of his day and exposed their hypocrisy and error. It made some furious, but he was not trying to win a popularity contest. He sure wasn’t looking for crowd approval. When the crowds got bigger, he told them they were a wicked generation!
The religious leaders saw Christ as their competition. They constantly tried to undermine his ministry. They were full of jealousy and envy because the crowds were leaving their meetings to follow him. And Jesus didn’t even have a church! He was not affiliated with any particular denomination. He had no ordination papers. He never went to seminary. His staff had no prior experience to qualify them for the job they were doing. Most of them had been fishermen, yet the Lord called them to be apostles.
His methods were unconventional. Sometimes he would hold meetings out in the hills. At other times he would show up in the temple courts to teach the people. Everybody recognized who was really in charge – him. And when the pharisees and teachers of the law tried to challenge him publicly, they got corrected on their own show. They were upstaged by this man who was from Nazareth; a small town in Israel, barely on the map.
He was a carpenter’s son, Mary’s boy. He came from an ordinary family. He did not run with the super wealthy or political elite. He was not seeking money, power or fame. He never went to any of the top schools. His training did not come from proud and prestigious long-established institutions of men. Jesus did not have a Doctorate of Divinity. He had something better – he had the anointing. It was Power from on High.
In Jesus’ meetings you could get healed and see miracles. You could hear the truth preached with boldness and grow in faith. His followers didn’t claim to be Christians just because they met in a building and were studying a book. These men and women stopped living like the rest of the culture and society around them and started applying Jesus’ teachings to their lives.
It’s also important to realize that Jesus’ followers never looted or rioted. They never used violence to try to force their will (or beliefs) on others. Nor did they get involved with every issue. But when lies about God were being told they did push back – by speaking the truth.
In Jesus you see a man on a mission, supremely confident of his message. He preached to the multitudes, “Repent, and enter the Kingdom of God.” His words could strike fear in the hearts of sinners, but he was not trying to condemn anyone. Their own hearts were convicting them. Yet, at other times, he was full of peace and joy. His words were very kind and gracious. Those closest to him knew him as a meek and humble man. They knew him as a teacher and maker of disciples. He taught people how to judge themselves. Some of his lessons were hard. At one point, many of his followers quit. But he made no apologies for speaking the truth. He did not change or water down God’s Word. He would not conform to the customs of this world.
Some followed very closely. Others followed from a distance. It was not only the Twelve that were with him. There was also Mary called Magdalene and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Susanna and many others who believed his words and helped support his ministry. Ultimately, his life and ministry changed their lives.
His was a ministry of discipline. He ran it like a military unit. Just like in a kingdom (which is hierarchical) there was rank, structure, order and authority. His men (the core of his ministry) followed orders like soldiers. Yet they were also a family and friends. They ate together. They traveled together. They practiced their patience, forgiving and walking in love with one another even at times when they did not like each other. They listened to Jesus’ teachings together. They encouraged each other with God’s promises in the Word. They lived holy (set apart) lives and kept the faith. Because these men and women had faith in God and obeyed His Word, they were a counter culture in their generation.
The Bible describes society in the last generation…
Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people. (2 Timothy 3:1-5 Message)
As Christians living in the 21st Century, we are called to be a counter culture in our generation…
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12:1,2 Message)