Everybody has an opinion. But how do we prove our point? When it comes to Jesus, people usually bring Him into a discussion when they believe He can lend added weight to their argument. Socially and politically speaking, conservatives will bring Jesus up regarding a pro-life position and liberals will enter the Jesus card to support their call to feed the poor and take care of the down and out. Good Samaritan type talk. But what about the passages where Jesus doesn’t always say what we want Him to say? Do we really believe Jesus when He talks about issues that we’re not quite sure about or maybe even just don’t agree with?
What about the times where Jesus spoke in reference to Old Testament accounts as if they were really true? Stories like Jonah and the big fish that are often placed alongside cute little kid myths of the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. What did Jesus say on those issues and does it matter? Then there are the big, moral, and eternal issues which make us reconsider what we really believe. Why? Because they can make us uncomfortable at best and convicted at worst.
There’s the tension. Are we willing to take all of Jesus or just what makes us feel good? Honestly, there are even some places where I just don’t get it all and sometimes wish that Jesus just saw things my way. But He doesn’t. That is where the ultimate question comes in. Are we going to follow Him totally or are we not? Are we going to force Jesus to fit into our worldview or are we going to allow Him to change us and mold us into His Kingdom worldview.
The list could be quite extensive. So I’ll just start the thought process with five tough issues that Jesus taught on as if they were true and relevant for our day. The challenge for all of us is to take Jesus at His word. Not only on the truths we like; but also the ones which force us to make a decision about the line in the sand.
1. Noah, the Ark, and Coming Judgment.
Noah and the Ark? Really? In Matthew 24:37-39 Jesus spoke as if the account of Noah was just as real as Caesar Augustus. In teaching on the end times and final judgment, Jesus went all the way back to the Old Testament book of Genesis treating it with the same authority of an actual history lesson. Jesus taught that the flood account was the real deal. In the context, Jesus was responding to the disciples who had asked about the end times and possible signs that might accompany them. Jesus noted that just as people in Noah’s day had heard the message of God and rejected it, thus bringing judgment upon themselves, so people would respond today in a similar fashion and likewise perish.
We don’t hear much judgment talk these days. We like the nice and gracious Jesus. Yes; Jesus came full of grace. However, we also see that He came full of truth as well. In fact, Jesus also spoke of eternal punishment in Matthew 25:46 and Luke 21:27 records Jesus speaking of His second coming on the clouds with power and great glory. In describing the word picture of a great banquet in Matthew 22:13, Jesus noted that there would be those on the outside being cast into darkness where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
If we examine the facts of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave and choose to call Him Lord, then we also must acknowledge that He taught on this issue as well. To deny Noah and the coming judgment is essentially to deny Jesus. The ramifications are huge for us to consider. The need of those outside of Christ and our need to share the love of Jesus with the world are paramount. In addition though, we can also glean some peace in this reality. When we experience the evil in this world we can be encouraged to know that the day will indeed come when the King of Glory will settle the score and finally bring justice for those who have followed Him.