Why Jesus Sometimes Said Hard Things
How to Respond When You Don’t Understand
Sometimes Jesus says things that seem hard, especially for someone who emphasized God’s love. Sometimes things happen in life that sure don’t feel like God loves us.
In the next few paragraphs I want to share with you one story and some insights that have helped me deal with this issue. Hopefully, it will help you too.
“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell all that you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come: follow me.’ Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Mark 10:21–22
Jesus Always Acts and Speaks Out of Perfect Love
A young man came to Jesus and asked Him what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him to keep the basic commandments. The young man said, “I’ve done that, now what?” (My paraphrase)
Notice Jesus’ response, “Jesus, looking at him, LOVED him, and said to him….” What Jesus is about to say sounded really hard to this young man, but Jesus was saying these words out of LOVE for him. What Jesus was about to say was to benefit him, not harm him.
When Jesus told him to sell everything he had, give it to the poor, and follow Him, He wasn’t saying it to punish the young man. He said those things to benefit him.
How Can Love-Spoken Words Seem Hard?
But what Jesus said to him sounded hard because the young man was not thinking in line with God’s truths. At least in this area of his life, this “rich young ruler” was still thinking according to the priorities of this world system, rather than God’s way of thinking.
Jesus goal for all people is to bring the kingdom of God, to give eternal, abundant life. And to do that not only a change of heart needs to happen, but also a different way of thinking.
Jesus was giving this young man the opportunity of a lifetime; Jesus was inviting him to come and follow Him. He had a personal invitation from the Son of God to be part of His team. To consistently hear the greatest words ever spoken, to see the greatest miracles ever, to store up treasure in the eternal, and to become part of changing the world.
Why Couldn’t He See It? Why Can’t We?
The young man didn’t see it that way because his heart and mind had not yet grasped what life is really about. It seemed hard to him because our world system prioritizes financial wealth: the freedom, security, prestige, and power money gives in our world system is undeniable.
In this area of his life he was still thinking like a fallen world.
But Jesus made clear, the priorities and values of this world’s system are really off. Jesus often said that the devil was the god of this world and Jesus came to change that.
So, let me get to the main points of this article, why Jesus sometimes said hard things and what to do about it.
- Jesus always acted and spoke truth from a heart of love….always.
- If Jesus’ words or actions sometimes seem hard, it’s because we are not seeing things from the right perspective yet. Jesus spoke love motivated words to help this young man but he didn’t perceive it that way because his thinking was not kingdom formed yet. (I hope that later he had a change of heart).
- I’m suggesting that whenever we don’t understand what the Bible says or if what happens seems hard, then we are not yet seeing that area according to God’s truth, we are not thinking correctly.
Then and Now
For years, even as a sincere believer, I would at times question God’s words. I’ve gradually come to see that God is always right and He always acts in love, I just might not understand it yet.
When I encounter these types of things my response is now, “God, could you help me understand this?” rather than, “God, what you said or did is not loving or good, how could you say that?”
If I’m having trouble with something God says, then I check my heart and thinking to discover where my thinking still needs to change. God is so much smarter than me. My knowledge and intellect are so small compared to His.
Learning to think this way is opening up more and more insights from His word and helping me get closer and closer to Him relationally.
I hope this helps you as it is helping me.
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