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By Gustav Krös 

In the Gospels, there is a side of Jesus that people don’t often speak about because it doesn’t fit the general narrative of the loving, kind and compassionate Jesus that everyone prefers to follow. One of these passages is in John 6:25-71 where Jesus tells the crowd in verse 53: “… unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you”. After the teaching, “many of His disciples said: ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’” (John 6:60). Jesus doesn’t then explain the teaching to them, to help them understand. No, in verse 65, He tells them: “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless the Father has enabled them.” In response to this, we read in verse 66 that “from this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him”.

His response is not the compassionate and loving response people want Him to have. He doesn’t try to stop the many disciples who are walking away from Him. He doesn’t try to explain Himself and convince them of the relevance of the teaching. No, He just lets them walk away. In verse 67, we read that He actually asks the Twelve: “You do not want to leave too, do you?”

This is a side of Jesus’s character that we don’t often speak about, but we also see something of it when He sends out the Twelve and the seventy-two. He tells them: “If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” (Luke 9:5). He doesn’t tell His disciples to try harder, or to try alternative methods. No, He simply says that they must walk away.

Further on, in Luke 9, we read the following account in verses 57-62: “As they were walking along the road, a man said to Him, ‘I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.’ He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Still another said, ‘I will follow You, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.’ Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’”

These are all people who showed interest in following Jesus, but His response is not as welcoming as one would expect. He is very direct and actually quite harsh. The reality is that as loving and compassionate as Jesus is, those are not His only characteristics. He truly is a no-nonsense God, who speaks the truth as it is and doesn’t care if He offends people.

Now, can you imagine what people would think of Jesus if we only preached on passages about Jesus like the ones quoted above? How would it shape our perspective of Him and how we relate to Him? We would be worshipping a stern, direct, no-nonsense God. It would give us a warped picture of who He truly is, and we would end up worshipping a false version of God.

Obviously, this is also true if we only focus on Jesus’s love, kindness and compassion. In the end, we will miss out on who He truly is, and we will find ourselves worshipping a false version of God. We should thus be careful not to shape Jesus into a mould we are comfortable relating to, rather than embracing Him for all that He is.

May we thus protect ourselves from simply selecting scriptures that make it easy for us to relate to God, ones that make us feel comfortable with Him. May we rather read the whole Bible and embrace God for all that He is. In the end, we need to submit to who He is; all that He is, and not try to mould Him into the God we want Him to be.