Some might see it as more than a bit peculiar that Christians refer to today as Good Friday. After all, it is the day when their Lord and Savior was nailed to a cross in order to endure a horrific death. What’s so good about that?
If you understand the reason for the death of Jesus of Nazareth, you might see this day in a different light. But make no mistake about it: If you are a Christian, the world hates you. Hate? That’s a strong word, you might say. However, in this case, it is suitable.
Approximately 2,000 years ago during the reign of Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great*, Jesus was killed by the religious leaders of his day. “Let him be crucified” (Matthew 27:22), they demanded. That these people wanted Jesus dead even had the Roman governor perplexed. After examining the evidence against Jesus, Pontius Pilate declared, “I find no basis for a charge against this man” (Luke 23:4). Still, there were many reasons they wanted to get rid of this itinerant preacher.
First, Jesus disrupted their religious system. In John 6:35-59, Jesus outlined his essential message: that he is “the bread of life” (verse 35), “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” (verse 40). These statements caused a great deal of “grumbling” by the religious leaders of the day (verse 41). Jesus was, and is, a “disrupter.”
Out of Control
The religious leaders feared losing control of their people. “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation” (John 11:48). Healing the sick, raising the dead — indeed, Jesus of Nazareth was upsetting their apple cart. The members of the Sanhedrin found their hold on the people slipping, and they were determined to do whatever it took to keep their power.
Jesus continually and directly exposed the religious officials for their hypocrisy and fake news. Matthew 23:13-26 records Jesus calling out the scribes, Pharisees, and teachers of the law. He wasn’t afraid to shame them publicly and make a mockery of their laws:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.  [b]
15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?”
Matthew 23: 13-19
The mere fact that Jesus exposed, threatened, and disrupted the religious authorities echoes through the ages to the present day. They hated Jesus then, and if you are a professing Christian, the unbelieving world hates you today. Here are a few reasons why:
Exclusive – Christianity by its very nature accentuates individuality over collectivism. Becoming a Christian is not a group experience but rather a personal one (John 3:3). This, by its very nature, is an offense to the world: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Then there is Matthew 7:14, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” And Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
Divisive – The world sees Christian doctrine as wholly divisive. As 1 Corinthians 1:18, 22-24 notes, it is an offense to those who do not believe: “The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God … For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks … Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” Salvation through Jesus is not a “let’s all say Kumbaya” experience.
Unearnable – By nature, people like to work for, earn, or feel that they did something to merit what they have. Most religions provide a path to salvation through works. Being good enough and praying enough puts you on a jet plane to heaven. However, Christianity as stated in the Bible is unattainable through these or any other works. In fact, the Scriptures call Christian salvation a “free gift.” Paul’s letter to the Ephesians states, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). And Romans 3:28, “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”
So, on this Good Friday if you are a Christian don’t be surprised that the world is offended by your faith. And if you are not a Christian you may want to ask yourself if you truly believe Jesus of Nazareth was a liar or a lunatic or whether he is who he claimed to be, as C.S. Lewis wrote:
“‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
*Hat tip to Ralph W Davis
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