“If Jesus were safe, He could not have crushed Satan, conquered sin, and killed our old nature”
Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?” So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.” Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him. (Mark 8:27-30 NKJV) It is interesting that we still ask this question about Jesus today and everyone has a different answer.
What does the World Think of Jesus?
Parents who send their children to churches that they themselves would not attend and public figures who cite Jesus as a great moral teacher think that Jesus is safe. They like the stories of Jesus because He is helping the weak and criticizing the powerful. To them, Jesus serves as nothing more than a moral example and a credit to their political agenda. They want a Jesus that they can call on in time of need and then set aside when He is no longer convenient. Someone who can heal their stubbed toe but does not get upset when they take His name in vain. They want a Jesus who watches over their children as they sleep but stays out of their own bedroom.
The Jesus that the world wants is entirely safe. He is meek and mild and thus someone who would not mind any of their life choices as long as they are happy. They can be who they want and Jesus would still love them, because that is what Jesus is all about.
What Does the Church Teach About Jesus?
Surely the Church would correct the world’s misconceptions about Jesus. So what are we teaching about Jesus in our Churches? Unfortunately, there seems to be no shortage of pastors (like one I heard recently) who would use the Sermon on the Mount to teach their congregation how to have better relationships on earth. It’s not an uncommon phenomenon to hear from the pulpit how Jesus was a brilliant philosopher or great teacher whose primary ministry was delivering lessons to us on how to improve our lives. This sort of ‘Your Best Life Now’ teaching not only fails to preach the gospel but it misrepresents Jesus as though He is more concerned with our comfort than our eternal destination.
Perhaps we need to get away from the 33 year old Jesus. By this I mean that we have cheapened the story of Jesus by only referring to Him as if He has only existed within the chapters of the four Gospels. In fact, the Jesus who healed the sick and fed the masses is the same LORD who brought the plagues on Egypt. The Jesus who wept before He raised Lazarus from the dead also brought the flood that destroyed the world and everyone in it. The Jesus who told His disciples to let the little children come to Him also told kings and judges to kill women and children. And the Jesus who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey with palms waving to shouts of “Hosanna” is the very same Jesus who will come back on a war horse bearing the sword amidst cries for mercy.
Unfortunately, this complete picture is an unpopular perspective of Jesus. Many Christians do not like the idea that their favorite character in the Bible is associated with stories of violence and judgment. Jesus is not the better tempered version of God the Father. They are one and the same. While it is true that Jesus became the propitiation for our sins by satisfying the wrath of God, it would be incorrect to think that Jesus does not hate sin equally and would not execute the justice of God for those still under His wrath.
Is Jesus Safe?
C.S. Lewis illustrates this point in one of my favorite stories in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. When Lucy shows concern about meeting Aslan, a lion, she asks if he is safe. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Jesus is not safe, but He is loving. His love allowed Him to suffer on our behalf to satisfy the wrath of God. He is our King. He is not a gentle public figure. He is a totalitarian and He rules with a rod of iron. He is not safe, but He is just and righteous. His rod and His staff will comfort us.
So no, Jesus is not safe. Jesus is not safe to teach to our children. He may call them to give their lives in a far away country for the sake of the gospel. Jesus is not safe to proclaim in our culture today. They cannot accept His own claim to be the only way, truth, and life. (John 14:6) Jesus is not safe to share with our co-workers and neighbors. Those who hated Jesus will also hate us. (John 15:18) We were not promised safety in this life. We were promised that those who live a godly life will suffer persecution. (II Timothy 3:12) Even so, the sufferings of this present world cannot compare to the glory that the world will miss out on for rejecting Christ. (Romans 8:18)
It is a good thing that Jesus is not safe. If Jesus were safe He could not have crushed Satan, conquered sin, and killed our old nature. A safe Jesus would not care about your life choices and call you on your sin, but then He would not be able to protect you from the evil one who would seek to devour you. A safe Jesus would have taken the deal with the devil in the wilderness. If He would have bowed down and worshiped Satan, He could have given you your best life now, but you would remain lost in eternity. He did not take the safe option that would allow Him to forego His crucifixion.
How Can We Both Fear Jesus and Love Him?
Without fear, it is impossible to truly love Jesus. It is with the knowledge of His absolute hatred toward sin and the power that He laid aside to come into our world that we can begin to comprehend how much He sacrificed on our behalf. That is true love which elicits a reverential awe in return. A savior who knows how wretched we truly are and has the power to wipe us out yet loves us all the same is certainly a savior who deserves our love.