In daily Mass this week we have been drawing from the 8th Chapter of the Gospel of John, which presents a riveting and stern rebuke by Jesus of the Jewish people of His time who refused to believe in Him. The video below is a vivid and literal presentation of a section of the text we are covering.
Passages such as those in John chapters 5 and 8 put the lie to the notion that Jesus was merely a pleasant fellow who would only console and never challenge. Many today trot out this reworked version of Jesus because they cannot abide a Lord (or a Church) that rebukes, warns, and even threatens them.
This reworked Jesus, who is only tender, is inauthentic. Jesus could and did console, affirm, and bless, but He was also a Lord and teacher who could speak bluntly and issue searing condemnations of unbelief, hypocrisy, and stubborn refusal to repent. He called His opponents out and would even label them liars, hypocrites, a brood of vipers, and/or evil. He told them that they were of their father, the devil. He also called them sons of those who murdered the prophets; He even called them murderers who were plotting to kill Him. He said that they knew neither God nor Abraham, that they were whitened tombs full of corruption on the inside. He told them that the reason that they did not accept the truth He declared was that they were not of God. And He warned them that if they did not accept that He was I AM, they would die in their sins.
Jesus apparently never got the memo that preachers are supposed to be nice and never confrontational. Neither did He accept the modern role description that He was to be only affirming and loving, not really caring about sin (like certain Church leaders today). In fact, 21 of His 38 parables were about judgment and Hell.
The real Jesus was no pushover. He was patient and encouraging of repentant sinners, but a truly repentant sinner does not ask Jesus to approve of his or her sin. For unrepentant sinners, for those who make light of sin or of their need for obedient faith, Jesus has strong words of rebuke and stern warnings of the consequences of failure to repent. Any straightforward reading of John chapters 5 and 8, or of the troubles that befell the unrepentant cities and unbelieving crowds, or of the woes described in Luke 11, discloses that our loving Savior expresses His love not only in soft encouragement, but also through sober and pointed warnings and rebukes. True love includes both. The modern world often separates love from correction, but Jesus joins them. He says, Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent (Rev 3:19).
With all this in mind, watch the videos below and behold a side of Jesus that many today would prefer to ignore. Yet the love of the true and biblical Jesus includes rebuke just as much as it does consolation.