Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

the inconsistency of Jesus




Occasionally, people will point out to me that Jesus is not totally depicted as calm, patient, passive, and loving within the NT narrative. They note the account of the cleansing of the Temple and maybe Jesus' strident condemnation of the Jewish religious leadership in Matthew 23 and elsewhere. I suspect all of us struggle with the larger example of Jesus as the humble, loving, self sacrificial servant; and, so we look for exceptions to the rule as a way to lessen the emotional impact of his overarching counter intuitiveness. A great deal of what Jesus said and the way he lived do not seem at all reasonable or practical.


Whenever, we observe what appears to be an inconsistency within the Bible story, each of us must begin a reconciliation process. That process begins with certain assumptions. One such assumption might be that Jesus, being divine, cannot display any inconsistency. Therefore, Jesus can teach an astonishing type of love on the one hand and then resort to condemnation and violence when it suits his purpose, meaning that God-like love and violence are somehow compatible. Thus, we witness many within Christianity who raise no question about a biblical interpretation which ends a story, ostensibly about God's love, in a horrendously violent fashion. These ones make an assumption which in their mind eliminates the need to admit any inconsistency.


Even in accepting the divinity of Jesus and the accuracy of the NT accounts, I am forced to ask myself what does the preponderance of evidence support in understanding the teachings and example of Jesus. In other words, should the counter examples of a violent, judgmental Jesus be allowed to divert me from his lessons on humility, forgiveness, selflessness, and love, thus justifying  my embracing retributive violence and condemnation as my personal, life principle? I must answer that for myself, and others must do likewise.


This discussion about how to view and understand all that we read about Jesus in the Gospels is simply a subset of the larger issue- how to deal with all the myriad examples of Bible verses which seem to contradict one another. The same process of attempted reconciliation applies. Assumptions are made and then a logical argument formulated which supposedly eliminates any inconsistency. If one does not accept the assumptions or the resulting logic, then the explanation will have little weight.


The essential lesson here is that biblical study is a multi-faceted process, which leaves ample room for honest differences of opinion. Those who insist on one way and one way only, namely their way, are way off base. As long as we observe and deal with the total NT picture of Jesus as noted in the first paragraph, each person faces a personal decision- which Jesus will be my example? Love or condemnation- which one can transform the human heart?