The Jesus you can’t ignore

Published 10:34 pm Friday, June 27, 2014

By Chris Surber

Near the end of his life, Thomas Jefferson took a razor and glue to the New Testament in an effort to purely study the morals and ethics of Jesus.

We have done something far more dastardly than to strip the New Testament of its miraculous accounts. Instead of systematically making the New Testament a moral lesson, we simply erase the things that do not suit our sinful appetites.

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Churches that pander to a self-absorbed culture with snow cones and bouncy houses are considered relevant, while preachers who speak of God’s hatred of sin while pointing people to the Cross are maligned as proclaimers of hate speech.

Is it more hateful to warn of impending judgment or to give a snow cone to a line of people awaiting their entrance into the flames of hell?

Christians who tell only of Jesus’ love are acceptable, and those who choose to acknowledge the whole account of Christ are scorned. We have recast the Son of Man in the image of man. We have set aside the incarnation of God the Son for a Jesus who suits our flesh. Jesus redeemed our souls by scarring His flesh at the Cross. We preach a cross-less Christ, and it’s why we have no power in the pews.

Jesus is not a cotton candy vendor, dispensing sweet pleasantries to passersby. The same Jesus who speaks of God’s unending love also takes up whips and violently chases corrupt moneychangers out of the temple of God. I wonder how gentle, meek and mild the moneychangers believed Jesus to be as their whip-wounds were healing.

I wonder how kind the Pharisees thought Him when He called them whitewashed tombs, looking good on the outside but full of stinking, rotting filth. I wonder how consequential Ananias and Sapphira believed obedience to God to be as they were struck dead because of disobedience.

Jesus is kind to sinners. He is kind enough to make a way of salvation through repentance. But you can’t have repentance until you identify the sin one must repent from. The grace of God is not a synonym for divine license. Declaring Christ without repentance from sin is like declaring victory without waging war against the enemy.

How can you follow Christ, who was scorned by the world, and be loved by the world? “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” (John 15:20 ESV)

Salvation’s equation is the Cross, salvation, and repentance in response to so great a Savior as this. It is not, “I don’t like your Jesus, so I’ll make one I like.”

The Jesus you can’t ignore is the Jesus who doesn’t ignore sin. God’s grace is free but it is not cheap. That’s the piece of the Gospel we are missing today.

We want salvation without repentance. We want the love of Jesus in Hallmark card fashion, instead of biblical fashion, because truth and personal responsibility have gone out of fashion.

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at