“TRUTH IS the word that has mostly suffered bastardisation, vilification and demonization in today's world,” (Rev. Fr. Eric Ankapong, Christ the King Parish of the Catholic Church, Kumasi).
What did Jesus do wrong to incite many to hate Him and His Church?
Throughout His physical presence in the world, the Lord Jesus did no wrong against anyone. He never disregarded the laws of the Roman government in His day. He was not a socio-religious deviant. He never refused to honour His tax obligations. He paid it according to law. In fact, Christ Jesus committed no act of lawlessness, iniquity or transgression.
“He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2: 22- 23).
Pilate, the Roman governor testified of the blamelessness and faultlessness of the Holy One of God. When the Jewish authorities arrested Jesus Christ and arraigned Him at Pilate's court, the governor found no incriminating grounds to sentence Him. “Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no basis for a charge against this man” (Luke 23: 4, NIV).
So why do many people hate the Lord Jesus Christ, His preachers and Christians in general? In fact, the hatred against the Lord Jesus started the very moment the message of His birth was announced. King Herod would not want Him to live. He tried unsuccessfully to kill Him (Matthew 2: 13).
And when Jesus Christ grew up and started ministering, the hatred against Him worsened. The Pharisees and Sadducees argued with Him on His teachings; they opposed and wanted Him killed. Some accused Him of being demon-possessed (John 8: 48, 52). The saying is true that, “What people do not understand they call it names; what they understand they destroy.”
“And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, 'He is possessed by Beelzebul', and by the prince of demons he cast out the demons” (Mark 3: 22). Others hurled insults at Him saying, He was a mad person. “Many of them said, 'He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him” (John 10: 20)? These were some of the invectives heaped on the Physician who healed people without charging them.
But the question still remains: what did Jesus do wrong to suffer hatred? Why should a Saviour who went about doing good, healing all that were oppressed of the devil, feeding the hungry, raising the dead, giving hope to the hopeless and teaching people the best way to live in this world by love be hated? Well, many may try to come up with various convincing reasons, but the Lord who knows the intent of every man's heart tells us the causes of His hatred.
“The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil” (John 7: 7). 'If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you…If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you…But all these things they will do to you on account of my name…If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:18- 22).
“Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE” (John 15: 23- 25, ESV).
The world through the instigation of the devil hated and continues to hate Christ and His church because of the preaching and teaching against sin in truth. The world hates truth, but celebrates lies. This is by the activity of the devil, the father of all liars. Jesus said the devil was, “a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8: 44).
The words of the Lord Jesus came to pass. The disciples were hated and persecuted; many were beaten, imprisoned and killed. James was arrested and killed. Stephen was stoned to death. Peter arrested and narrowly escaped death when the church interceded for him. Paul was arrested and beaten on several occasions. In fact, the majority of the early preachers were martyred for their faith in Christ Jesus. To the Christians, to live is Christ; to die is gain.
And today many Christians suffer similar persecutions, killings and hatred throughout the world. We suffer in many ways in various communities all on account of the name Jesus Christ. The words of our Lord are not only pure but also true. He forewarned about the world hating Him and His Church, but the hatred is without a cause.
In spite of the persecutions, Christ keeps on increasing; He will never decrease. Christ is robustly building His Church by the Holy Spirit through His servants throughout the world, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
FROM James Quansah, Kumasi