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Strong words from Jesus… about us?

Posted by on Sep 27, 2012 in discipleship | 9 comments

Strong words from Jesus… about us?

We all know that Jesus had strong words for the Jewish religious leaders of his day. For an example, consider the “woes” that Jesus spoke against the Pharisees, scribes, and other religious leaders in Matthew 23. He used such strong terms as “blind guides,” “hypocrites,” “whitewashed tombs,” and “serpents.” These are not the kinds of terms that would help Jesus win friends and influence people. And, none of us want Jesus to use these kinds of terms to refer to us.

But, did you know that Jesus did not reserve “strong words” only for those hypocritical religious leaders?

Primarily, I write for audience of people who are followers of Jesus, disciples, believers, Christians, those who are saved, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, and children of God.

And… here’s the part that we don’t talk about much… Jesus often spoke “strong words” toward people who were seeking the truth from him, toward those who were following him, and even toward those who he had chosen as apostles. (And, I’m not even going to include Judas Iscariot in this…)

Jesus was surprised at their lack of understanding:

But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” And he [Jesus] said, “Are you also still without understanding?” (Matthew 15:15-16 ESV)

Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?” (John 3:10 ESV)

He made demands on them:

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” (Luke 19:5 ESV)

Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:18-22 ESV)

He made seemingly impossible demands of them:

And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” (Mark 6:35-37 ESV)

And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:6 ESV)

He rebuked them sometimes calling them names, sometimes using sarcasm and exaggeration:

And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26 ESV)

But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me.” (Matthew 16:23 ESV)

“And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you?” (Luke 9:40-41 ESV)

Now, some may disagree with how I’ve labeled some of the passages above. But, it’s clear that Jesus used strong words when speaking with his disciples. In the same way, he could (and probably does) use strong words when speaking with us, too.

I think the only ones who are surprised at Jesus’ strong words to us (his disciples) would be those who think they’ve got it all together… But, I could be wrong.

What do you think?


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  1. 9-27-2012

    He used strong words, certainly, but always accurate ones. Yet the insults seem to have been reserved for those leading others astray.

    I don’t remember Jesus ever calling his sheep morons for failing to understand. Though he did seem to make the opposite statement (Matthew 5:22).

  2. 9-27-2012


    Funny… I wrote this post last weekend, and originally had scheduled it to publish earlier in the week. I moved it when I wrote the post about The Pilgrim Church. So, this post is not in response to our conversation yesterday.

    This post is not about us using strong language. This post is about who we expect Jesus to use strong language against.

    I agree that Jesus had strong words to those leading others astray and for those who thought they had figured out God. However, we also see him using strong words for those who were interested in him and who were following him. I think it’s quite an insult to call someone “Satan.”


  3. 9-27-2012

    I’ve often wondered whether it is most accurate to translate that as the proper noun “Satan” or as the literal meaning “adversary” (as does the YLT). In either case, Peter had just rebuked and directly opposed Jesus. That’s a far cry from a naive lack of understanding.

    That is pretty funny about the scheduling thing. Providence, perhaps? I’ll not deny that Christians can sometimes be a bit weak on language when needed. We can also be quite a bit too strong at times.

    Better to allow the Spirit speak through us as much as possible, rather than speaking from our own hearts (Mark 7:21–23).

  4. 9-27-2012


    I’m not certain that “adversary” is that much nicer than “Satan”… it’s still a strong word that Jesus used to refer to one of his followers… Peter even. Again, this post is not about US using strong language. Jesus used strong language toward his followers in the Gospels; there’s no reason to believe that he wouldn’t use strong language toward us today.


  5. 9-27-2012

    Agreed. 🙂

  6. 9-27-2012

    For an idea of roughly what he might say to us today, one can read Revelation 2–3.

  7. 9-27-2012


    Yes! Those are great examples of what I’m talking about here.


  8. 9-27-2012

    “…Jesus often spoke “strong words” toward people who were seeking the truth from him, toward those who were following him, and even toward those who he had chosen as apostles.”

    Bingo. “…toward people who were seeking the truth from Him…” Again, Bingo.

  9. 9-27-2012


    Yep, toward those who were seeking the truth from Him, and even toward the apostles who knew that only Jesus had the words of life.