The Unpopularity of Christ
Despite the common image of a Christ that is both cool and funky, who would walk around in Levis if he was on earth today, which is portrayed and preached in many churches- we can see from the bible that this is a grossly inaccurate view of what he was like.
The bible warns us about those who preach another Jesus and such views are exactly that.
Here are some examples from the bible of exactly how unpopular Christ was. The fact is that he is just as unpopular now as he was then.
He is still commonly rejected by the world and seeing as many churches have a false Christ- he is rejected of them too.
The emphasis here is on his life, laying aside His betrayal and crucifixion, to show how unpopular he was even before this time.
This is by no means an extensive study, and more examples and references remain.
The prophecy of Isiah 53, gives us the keynote of
Christs ministry and life before it came.
And when we read the gospels we can see that it was so completely fulfilled:
Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground:
he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him,
there is no beauty that we should desire him.
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:
and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:
yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;
and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth:
he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation?
for he was cut off out of the land of the living:
for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death;
because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief:
when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed,
he shall prolong his days,
and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied:
by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many;
for he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he hath poured out his soul unto death:
and he was numbered with the transgressors;
and he bare the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
John 12:37 But though he had done so many miracles before them,
yet they believed not on him:
John 12:38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake,
Lord, who hath believed our report?
and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
As soon as Christ is born and before he has said or done anything, Herod, who either feels a threat to his own throne or in order to try and confound the Old Testament prophets, intends to kill Jesus. Herod has all the males of two years old and under, massacred in Bethlehem and its regions. Mat 2:16
Christ knew, and predicts early on in the first part of his ministry, in The Sermon on the Mount, that he would have people following Him but not sincerely. They call upon Him Lord, Lord but dont do His will and aren't genuine. Mat 7:21-23
The response to His Sermon on the Mount is indicated. Rather than faith in Him as the Son of God or the true prophet who was to come, all that's said about their response is that they were astonished at what He said. Amazement at one someone says isn't the same as faith in what someone says. Mat 7:28, 29
Christ returns home to Nazareth and He does the reading and testifies in the synagogue that He is the fulfilment of the prophecy of Isiah. They all, completely full of unbelief only see Him as a man whose family still lives in their town. It also says they 'were filled with wrath', and that they attempted to kill Him there and then by taking Him to a hill and to cast him down it. This was a mode of capital punishment among the Romans and others. Luke 4:16
Various people would approach Christ and claimed that they would follow Him whatever the cost. But Christ knew their hearts and that they were insincere. He answered their plea of commitment with knowledge of what was in their heart and that in one way or another they loved the things of this world instead of Him. Mat 8:19- 22
In Galilee, Jesus has compassion on the leprous man and heals him. He firmly tells him to not tell anyone but to go to the priest and make the appropriate offering as a testimony to others. But immediate unbelief and disobedience, and he publishes it in the city so much so that Jesus was now hindered from publicly entering into the city and had to be in deserted areas, all because of this mans disobedience to His word, whom Hed healed. Mar 1:40-45
When Jesus casts out demons at Gadara and delivers the demon possessed man, the response of the all the people of that city isnt faith but fear. Instead of worshipping him as the Son of God who has power over Satan they all tell Him to leave their region. Further, Christ besought the delivered man to go home and tell his friends what God had done for him. His response is immediate disobedience to Christ, and he instead begins to publish the news in another city. Matt 8:28, Mk 5:1, Lk 8:26
In Capernium Jesus is concerned with the palsied man being forgiven of his sins, who they lower through the roof of the house they were in. He sees the man has faith in Him and declares that because he has faith in Him he is forgiven of his sins. Immediately, the scribes in their hearts accuse the Son of God of blasphemy. So because of their unbelief Christ has to prove He is the Son of God and that He has such authority by healing the man of the palsy. On this occasion the Lord was concerned with healing the mans sickness of sin, not his sickness of body. Matt 9:1, Mk 2:3, Lk 5:18
Jesus has a meal at Levi the tax collectors house and is accused of being unrighteous. Picture it, theyve sat down to have a meal and some people present -the Pharisees, moan to his disciples, about His conduct in eating with sinners, and then another group come- the disciples of John, and they moan to His face about not having His disciples fast. Matt 9: 10, Lk 5: 29
When Jesus raises Jairus daughter from the dead, its recorded that when He said the maid is not dead, but sleepeth that they laughed Him to scorn. It says when he came into the house they were all weeping and wailing and making a din of lamentation for her, but with one sentence from Christ this wailing somehow quickly turns into laughter. Somehow, so much so that it must have continued for a little while as its put laughed him to scorn, which means they derided Him. Christ already had a reputation for being a prophet and for His miracles up until now, but they still find place to deride His words even while in a state of grief for a member of the close community who had just died.
Again, after raising the daughter from the dead it isnt said "many believed because of this" but only the fame hereof went abroad into all that land. Gossip not faith. Matt 9:18, Lk 8:41
Immediately after this He meets two blind men and heals them of their blindness and firmly tells them to tell no man what He did for them. Again, immediate disobedience and lack of faith in the Son of God, and when they had gone away from Him, they went and told everyone in that region.
Then He casts out a devil from a dumb man and the Pharisees accuse His power as being that of Satan. Christ seems to mention this in chapter 10 v25 they have called the master of the house Beelzebub. Which is equivalent to calling him Satan. More unbelief is shown yet again in the fact that it is only said the multitudes marvelled at the deliverance from the devil. Mat 9:32. He is again accused of being of Satan in 12:24.
There is a clear reference to this accusation in John 8:48. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Joh 8:49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.
Christ hints at some things that were said to Him or of Him. At some stage He must have been called 'a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners' Mat 11:19
The Pharisees accuse Christ of breaking the Old Testament law, as the disciples did what was classed as servile work on the Sabbath day, as they plucked ears of corn to eat. Mat 12:1
After Jesus heals a man with a withered hand He has to withdraw from Tiberias because the Pharisees plot how to kill him. Mat 12:13-15
When Jesus returns to His home town of Nazareth for the second time, they again reject Him and see Him just as a man whos family live there. They were astonished -but not believing. 'They were offended in Him', and He couldnt do many mighty works there because of their unbelief, and now instead of the crowds marvelling at His miracles, He marvelled at their unbelief. Mat 13:54
Scribes and Pharisees come to Jesus from Jerusalem. A deputation probably sent from the capital expressly to watch Him. As He had not come to them at the last Passover, which they had reckoned on, they now come to Him. They accused Him of sin in not observing the tradition of the elders in washing their hands before eating. In v12 the disciples tell him that the Pharisees were offended by his response. Mat 15:1 Mark 7:1
The Pharisees and Sadducees come to Him to test Him, and prove whether He really is the Son of God perhaps, and they ask for Him to perform a sign from heaven. Mat 16:1
The rich young ruler approaches Christ and asks what good thing he should do in order to go to heaven. He is told to sell what he owns and give to the poor and then he can come and follow Christ. But he goes away with his unbelief manifested because he loves his possessions instead and hes therefore sad to give them up. Mat 19:16
Jesus is healing blind and lame people in the temple and the children are crying out hosanna to the Son of David. The chief priests and scribes responded to these things with displeasure, and checked with Him that He didnt mind what the children cried out. Mat 21:14
In the middle of teaching the chief priests and elders rudely interrupt and come to Him and demand to know by what or whos authority He teaches and heals. In v 46 after being rebuked by Christ in not so many words, they would have dragged Him away there and then but were too afraid of all the people. Mat 21:23
After this the Pharisees went away and worked out a way to trap Him in his words, and sent back to Him their disciples and the Herodians with a special question, which was obviously to try and get him in trouble with the Roman Emperor. Mat 22:15
Though men may be divided over different things, they will unite when it comes to hatred of the Son of God as the Pharisees and Sadducees became. Mat 22:34
In Mat 22:33 Again the people are not believing of his words but just astonished
John 2:23 says that many believed in Him because of the miracles that He did. But Christ knew that such faith isnt true faith and He didnt commit himself to those people. Its again mentioned that people followed Him just because of the miracles in John 6:2
Unique in Johns gospel is the discourse of Christ being the bread of life. John 6:22. In the synagogue at Capernium He taught them that He is the bread of life come down from heaven, and they found it hard to accept and murmured amongst themselves at the saying. Even his disciples began to murmur at it. John accounts that Jesus knew from the beginning, which disciples didnt truly believe in Him and who would betray Him. It says from that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Jesus also had to question the twelve and check that they werent also about to turn from him.
Christs brothers at that time didnt believe in Him either, and gave advice to Him that would result in His death if He followed it. John 7:4
Christ declares that He is God and 'then took they up stones to cast at him'. They would have stoned Him to death on the spot there and then. John 8:59. They attempt to stone Him again in John 10:30
In John 15:18 Christ himself tells the twelve that He is hated by the world and that therefore true Christians will be too. It is still true to say woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you, for so spake they of the false prophets.
Christ Himself said that He had been persecuted and His words rejected, and that true Christians will experience the same.
After this ministry He was betrayed by Judas, forsaken by the twelve, mocked and beaten, tried, scourged, and finally crucified. And rose again the third day.
Christ was never popular when He walked the earth. So why would He be now?
Christ said: 'when the son of man cometh shall he find faith on the earth?'
Lk 18:8. i.e. genuine faith.