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The Divisiveness of Jesus

I. The divine divider
A. Divisions arose over and over again.
1. JOHN 7:40-44 {Some} of the multitude therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, "This certainly is the Prophet." Others were saying, "This is the Christ." Still others were saying, "Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?" So there arose a division in the multitude because of Him. And some of them wanted to seize Him, but no one laid hands on Him.
2. JOHN 9:16 Some of the Pharisees were saying, "This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath." But others were saying, "How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?" And there was a division among them.
3. JOHN 10:19-21 There arose a division again among the Jews because of these words. And many of them were saying, "He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?" Others were saying, "These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?"
B. This is just what Jesus Himself said.
1. Luke 12:51-53 "Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two, and two against three. They will be divided, father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
2. MAT 10:34-36 adds this: "a man's enemies will be the members of his household."
3. MAT 10:21-22a "And brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father {his} child; and children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all on account of My name."
C. How are men divided by this? We can see from these passages that they are divided by how they respond to Jesus. Some love Him and some hate Him. Examples:
1. John 7:12 And there was much grumbling among the multitudes concerning Him; some were saying, "He is a good man"; others were saying, "No, on the contrary, He leads the multitude astray."
D. John gives us an explanation in JOHN 3:19-21 "And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."
E. This is predicted even at His birth.
1. Luke 2:34 And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, this {Child} is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed"
2. LUKE 1:51-53 (mild Mary is speaking) "He [the Mighty One] has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered {those who were} proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from {their} thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. He has filled the hungry with good things; And sent away the rich empty-handed.
F. In fact, not only has He divided all humanity into those who love Him and those who hate him, but He is actually the most loved and most hated man in human history, without even any close competition.
II. He was the most loved man who ever lived.
A. more have died for Him, more have lived for Him, more have worshiped Him
B. more books have been written about Him
C. more songs have been sung about Him (not just songs but love songs)
D. more buildings have been erected in His name
E. buildings where those who love Him can gather to learn to love Him more
F. more pieces of art have been created of Him or for Him
G. more monuments set up in His memory
H. more meetings have been held in His honor
I. His name has been called out by more people in trouble
J. His name has been uttered by more dying lips
K. For 2000 yrs, since His death, men all over the world have celebrated His birth, death, & other events of His short life.
L. For 2000 years, those who love Him have been trying to get others to love Him, even investing great amounts of time and energy, even traveling to the most obscure corners of the earth, even sacrificing friends and family, careers and comforts, just to help others learn to love Him.
M. In fact, He is so far out ahead of the pack that it’s hard to even judge who might be in 2nd place.
N. At birth
1. Most babies are loved when they are born, loved by parents and siblings and sometimes other relatives and friends.
2. Every once in a while a baby is loved by a whole nation, because he is the heir to the throne.
3. But this Baby, when He was born, was loved by many who never had heard of Him before, who had never known or heard of His parents before.
4. They came from all around. Rich people came. Poor people came.
5. Some traveled from far away to visit Him at His birth.
6. Some who saw Him had been waiting to see Him since even before His parents were born.
7. They brought Him expensive gifts.
8. They gathered around Him. They looked at Him. They treasured Him.
9. They admired Him. They held Him. They said wonderful and astounding things about Him.
10. He had a cousin named John who was born just six months before Him, born to parents who had yearned for a son and prayed for a son for decades.
a. But John's parents, though they loved their own son dearly, much more than most parents love their children, yet they loved this One more than they loved their own son, John.
III. And yet He was also the most hated man who ever lived.
A. Someone might say Adolf Hitler but Hitler was one of hundreds of men who did the same kind of things he did and were deeply hated by the generations that followed, but eventually the memory of them fades away.
1. Hundreds of years from now, Hitler will just be another name in a history book,
2. and there will be other villains that will have taken his place on the most hated list.
3. Hitler is considered third on the list behind Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin.
B. But this is not the case with Jesus.
1. He is not a mass murderer, or a perpetrator of genocide.
2. He never lifted His hand to strike another human being.
3. He never did anything that most people would think of as evil.
4. He was just a Jewish teacher who went around the countryside, teaching people and helping people for three years in first century Palestine.
5. And yet He is far and away the most hated man in all of human history.
C. He was hated as soon as he was born
1. Herod tried to kill him. He was willing to slaughter innocent babies to get to him – irrational fury and loathing.
D. He was hated when He grew up.
1. Though He had done nothing wrong, many wanted to kill him
2. JOHN 15:18 "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before {it hated} you.
3. JOHN 15:24-25 "they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But {they have done this} in order that the word may be fulfilled that is written in their Law, 'They hated Me without a cause.'
4. He was crucified by officials, after regular procedure was abandoned (by those who were extremely persnickety about proper procedure).
5. This was about the 10th attempt on His life.
E. All through history
1. Kings and rulers and emperors who have set out to destroy His name/work – e.g. Diocletian
2. Steve Schwartz
F. Even today it continues unabated after 2000 years.
1. World
a. Books written about those who have been killed on account of His name
b. 1000's are killed every year because they believe in Him.
c. In some countries loving Him is punished by death.
d. Some nations will tolerate almost anything being brought into that country, anything except Him.
2. In USA, one of the most Christian nations in history...
a. curse word – His name is spoken more in contempt than in praise.
b. Some of the most vindictive things said are reserved for Jesus and those who love Him.
G. But all this doesn't minimize His honor, in fact, it enhances it,
1. because it confirms that what He said about Himself was true.
2. The most loved and the most hated man in history are the same person: the man they called Jesus of Nazareth.
3. How could this be unless He was the divine divider?
IV. My own testimony
A. Until 1970 I hated him too. Many who now love Him once hated Him.
B. I was an evangelist against Christianity. I belittled those who believed.
C. But then, without my ever seeking Him, He found me. Suddenly, I loved more than anything else in the world the very One I had hated more than anything else in the world.
V. Conclusion
A. Luke 12:51-53 “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
1. Two distinct peoples, two even more distinct destinies.
2. This two-ness is a great offense to some.
3. But you cannot accept Christ and yet reject Him as the divine divider.
4. If you cannot accept Him as the sword that divides, you cannot accept Him at all.
5. If you cannot swallow Christ being the divider of all mankind, you have not swallowed the Christ of the Bible. (And no other Christ can save other than the Christ of the Bible.)
6. If Christ is to be Savior, He must be Lord.
7. We cannot have God unless we let Him be God.
8. You may even have to allow Christ to divide you from parents, siblings, children.
B. Of course, He does not divide according to human distinctions, like race, gender, language, nationality, age, etc.
1. In these He is the great uniter - Gal.3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
2. He doesn't separate white people from black people and young people from old people and male from female. He does not separate Americans from Asians or Europeans from Middle Easterners. He doesn’t separate religious people from non-religious people.
3. He unites white people and black people. He unites young people and old people. He unites male and female. He unites people from every nation, language and tribe.
4. He separates white from white and black from black and young from young and old from old and male from male and female from female. "A man's enemies will be the members of his household." (Matt.10:36)
5. He divides men into two groups: those who refuse Him and those who receive Him. He is Himself the great unifier and the great divider.
C. Conclusion
1. Those not for Him are against Him. Those not against Him are for Him. There are only two camps. There is no middle position.
2. You have to be on one side or the other.
3. The great longing for another alternative. Some are torn apart by not wanting to choose one.
4. Jesus Christ is the issue of our day and every day. Jesus Christ is the issue of every person’s life: What are you going to do with Jesus Christ? Are you going to be for Him or against Him?
5. As we said, Jesus is not merely the divider of people here on the earth, He is also the divider of men for all eternity.
D. If I am going to be the friend of Christ I must be willing to be an enemy of His enemies.
1. As 2Tim.3:12 says, "Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."
2. The man who is not willing to be hated because of Christ has made Himself a hater of Christ.
3. Jesus Christ is the most loved and the most hated man in human history. His people, likewise, are inevitably going to be the most loved and the most hated people in the world.
4. John 15:18–20 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.”