When people argue against the Christian message, they may say that the disciples fabricated Jesus of Nazareth, or radically altered his teachings so as to fit their own desires and take advantage of people. They may argue that the apostles, or some authorities, wanted to use the Bible to control the masses. But when examined critically, this sort of reasoning does not work, because there are at least 5 sayings of Jesus that the disciples wouldn’t have made up. They would not have made them up because these sayings are difficult, and if one were making up a story, they would leave these sayings out.
1 – “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28
If the disciples were making up a religion to align with their desires, so that they can get things out of people or control them, they would not have included a command like this. This sort of condemnation is precisely the type of thing that is apt to keep people away. If you are making up a religion, you are going to tell the men that they can sleep with anyone that they want; keep multiple wives, and sleep with anybody that you want.
But Jesus said that anyone who so much as looks lustfully has committed adultery already. Now this is an idea that was alien to Judaism. The Jews believed that the physical action was adultery in itself. Jesus added that lust was also adultery. He did not have to do that, nor did the disciples, if they were just making up a story. So I ask: what man would make up a command such as this one? It is far more likely that the disciples were jut faithfully recording the words of Jesus, which reflects God’s perfect moral standard.
2 – “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” John 6:51
Jesus told this to multiple Jews, including the twelve disciples. The majority of those who heard abandoned him, because his sayings were so difficult. That makes one wonder why the disciples would have included sayings of Jesus that caused multitudes to abandon him. If anything, that is embarrassing to the Christian message. The Messiah was abandoned by the masses for his teachings. But the disciples included it because, again, they were faithfully recording his message.
Now if they were making up a story, they could have just changed Jesus’ words, or put words in his mouth, that do not cause people to abandon him. When people hear, ‘eat my flesh,’ and left, they could have just changed what he said. But they did not, because they were faithfully recording what he said.
3 – “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine.” Matthew 10:37
Jesus told his disciples that following him was not just a religious endeavor. They were not to just give a sort of mental ascent to Christ. They were not to just sort of follow a few rules. It was not a sprinkling on top of their life. It was supposed to usurp their life. Jesus said that he needs to be absolutely everything to them. We must love him more than absolutely everything – father, mother, son, daughter, brother sister. We must love him more than everything in our lives.
If you are making up a religion that is meant to be attractive to people, would you make up such a saying? Would you say that Christ must be prioritized over everything in life that you hold so dearly? People would not be attracted to that. But the disciples just faithfully recorded the words of Christ.
4 – “And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition.” Mark 7:13
To understand why this is such a hard saying, one has to understand how precious tradition is in Judaism. Living in Jerusalem, they lived in the very center of the religious life of their ancestors. Solomon constructed this Temple in the city which is the house of the living God. Judaism is absolutely everything, and the Pharisees tell you how to live the Jewish life.
But Jesus came and said that they were doing everything wrong. He said that their practice of Judaism contradicted the Scriptures that were passed down from the prophets of old. He said that their tradition nullified the word of God. What an insult! If the disciples wanted Jews to follow their made-up story, they would have never included such a saying. It is more probable that they just faithfully recorded this saying.
5 – “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:46
The concept of the afterlife was vague in Jewish theology, and eternal torment was an idea completely alien to the mind of the Pharisees. They typically thought that life ended at the grave, and that was the punishment for the wicked. But at the very most, the Jews would be resurrected to live with God in Zion. The Gentiles would die, never to rise again. This is what Jewish tradition held.
But Jesus taught that those who do not follow him will end in eternal torment. This is a teaching which would not have attracted the Jews, and in fact, contradicted many of their traditions’ beliefs. Despite that, the disciples preached this message to the Jews. Why? They were just faithfully recording the words of Christ and the doctrines that he offered them.
What hard sayings of Jesus can you think of? Leave a comment!
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