It’s evident by His delivery that Jesus never read How to Win Friends and Influence People. The reason may be that it was written some two millennia after His death, burial, and resurrection. Still, being outside of space and time as He is, knowing the end from the beginning, one would think He’d incorporate some of the tried and true speech patterns that made Dale Carnegie a household name.
If anything, telling your inner circle, your closest, most faithful group of followers, that they would be hated, persecuted, marginalized, ostracized, and killed is contrary to the tenets of making friends. I guess influencing people is still possible, but if anything, the influence would be of a negative nature.
If Christ’s disciples were as vapid, self-centered, hedonistic, and earthly-minded as most of today’s televangelists, their reaction to being told that they’d be hated and suffer for His name’s sake would have been met with accusations of betrayal and being led astray.
We were promised chariots and horses, not beatings and tortures. I’m sure there was a version of a McMansion somewhere in Galilee that they could have pointed to to make their point clear: we are not here to follow unto death; we are here to follow unto riches!
Give us this day our daily bread; what are we, peasants? Croissants and caviar are the bare minimum. We’ll get to talking about private jets and personal chefs after we get my demands squared away! You see, I know my worth in the kingdom and my value, and it seems You need reminding. I’m a triple threat to the devil! I’m an apostle, bishop, and prophet, so treat me like an A-lister.
If only Paul had known his value, perhaps he could have negotiated a better deal than being beheaded in Rome. Not much of a golden parachute.
But back to His why. Why would Jesus paint the most vivid, unappetizing, grim, and bleak picture He could have regarding the future of His followers? Why couldn’t He massage the truth a bit, leave out some of the tougher bits? It wouldn’t be outright lying, it would just be an omission, and we know lies of omission aren’t sins because pastors commit them from the pulpit on the daily in their quest to spare feelings.
Why not gloss over the whole suffering chapter completely? Why leave them with a bitter taste in their mouth when He was about to depart? Christ’s reasoning is straightforward and undeniably logical. Although I could paraphrase, I won’t because I want to get you into the habit of asking for receipts no matter who it is.
Pretend you’re the person standing at the Costco exit with the purple marker. It doesn’t matter who’s trying to leave the store, if they have a cart and there’s merchandise in it, you must present a receipt, and they have to scratch a line through it. As they are fond of saying, we just want to ensure you have everything you paid for!
Too often, we take people at their word or accept their interpretation of what the Word says, to the point that we find ourselves believing some really kooky things that aren’t found in the Bible. Just the other day, I had to explain to someone that no, God wasn’t married, and in Genesis, when the discussion is had about making man in Their image, God wasn’t talking to His wife. Yeah, I know. Welcome to my world.
So why was Jesus so direct as to what His disciples could expect? His reasoning is twofold: first, that they should not be made to stumble, and second, that they might have peace in Him.
What a cliffhanger! It would be worthwhile to discuss these reasons at length and dig deeper into how both could occur. For that, there’s always tomorrow unless there isn’t, and if there’s no tomorrow for me, you’ll have to do the legwork yourself.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea, Jr.