This may seem like an odd question to ask, but the answer may surprise you. It surprised me, partially because I did not intend to ask the question. I am currently trying to acquire a language for the purposes of ministry, and I am taking a topical discussion class with a handful other evangelicals who are seeking to acquire the language for the same reason. The topic for our most recent class was “Who is Jesus?” We had to answer the question in the target language. Here is the English translation of what I said.
Who is Jesus? This is an important question, very important. The Bible tells us that no one can come to God without Jesus. It tells us that if we know Jesus, then we know God and that if we don’t know Jesus, then we don’t know God. So, we have to know who Jesus is, right? So, who is Jesus?
The writer of Hebrews says in 1:3 that Jesus is the image of God, that he “is the radiance of God’s glory and the image of his nature or essence.” If this is correct, if Jesus and God have the same essence, then we will see agreement between what the Old Testament says about God and what Jesus says and does in the New Testament.
So, let us see something from the Old Testament that summarizes God’s character in Deuteronomy 32:39 and 43, “See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, and there is no one who can deliver from My hand. Rejoice, O nations, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance on His adversaries, and will atone for His land and His people.” In these two verses, we see the nature of God. We see that God judges his enemies and that he loves his own people.
So now, if Jesus is the image of God, then he will also judge his enemies and love his people. Let us see what Jesus says in Matthew 23. Eight times Jesus says, “Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.” In verse 33, he says, “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?” But, what does Jesus say in John 6? He says that everyone who is given to Jesus by the Father will come and that Jesus will not cast him out. Here, we see both the judgment of Jesus and the love of Jesus.
In the Old Testament, God’s hates his enemies and loves his people. In the New Testament, Jesus hates his enemies and loves his people. Jesus really is the exact representation of God’s nature. This is why you have to love Jesus in order to love God. If you love Jesus, then you love God. If you don’t love Jesus, then you don’t love God.
I thought my message was fairly straightforward. I expected all the professing believers around me to be in agreement that Jesus and God have the same nature and that God, through Jesus, judges his enemies and redeems his people. However, the people around me were shocked. I was told, “Jesus loves everyone and does not hate anyone.” To this, I responded, “If God hates people in the Old Testament (Ps 5:5), and if Jesus is the exact representation of God, then Jesus must hate people.” I was then told that “God judged people in the Old Testament because Jesus had not yet come. Now that he is here, we live in a time of grace.” To this, I responded, “Was there no grace in the Old Testament? Is there no judgment today?” I was then told that “there was some grace in the Old Testament, but there is no judgment today.” To this, I responded, “But God does not change. There are both judgment and grace all around us.” At this point, the discussion deteriorated into meaningless nonsense as the people around me expressed their general disapproval of the way I had portrayed Jesus.
The only logical conclusion I can reach is that these people hate Jesus. To be more precise, they hate the Jesus who I portrayed to them in class. This also happens to be the same Jesus who is revealed in the Bible. This is bad news for them because it means that they hate God. To be more precise, it means that they hate the God who is revealed in the Bible. This has left me wondering . . . who else hates Jesus? Who else is there, of those who profess to know and worship and love God through Jesus, who actually hates the true nature of God? If you have put your faith in a god who does not judge his enemies, then you worship a figment of your imagination. If, however, you have placed your faith in God who judges his enemies and redeems his people, then you should listen to Moses and rejoice, for God will avenge the blood of his servants and render vengeance on his adversaries and atone for his land and his people (Deut 32:43).