Whoever wrote, “Gentle Jesus meek and mild” didn’t know Jesus very well. I don’t think he had read the gospels. Jesus wasn’t always gentle, meek, and mild when he taught. Sometimes he yelled. Sometimes he got mad and raised his voice. Sometimes he turned over tables.
Confrontational teaching and preaching is out of style. Today, we like a conversational tone. I get that. During my college and seminary years, when I was developing my thoughts on what church ought to be like, I heard way to many scream-and-holler-and-spit-and-shout kind of sermons. I got really turned off to this kind of thing. It seemed so angry. It seemed so mean. It seemed so condemning. It didn’t seem Jesus like.
I was, apparently, not alone. About this time there began to spring up a whole new generation of kinder, gentler teachers. Voices of people like Max Lucado and Andy Stanley and John Ortberg sounded a softer, gentler tone. I liked that tone.
But, as I study the teaching style of Jesus, it is hard to miss the fact that Jesus was, at least some of the time, very confrontational. Consider these excepts:
- “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
- “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.
- “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.