Jesus made it hard to follow Him. He was much more interested in the quality of the people’s response than in the quantity of the crowd. When people chose not to follow Him, he lovingly let them go and didn’t chase after them! Sometimes His words were harsh. Consider…
John 6:65 And (Jesus) said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” 66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…”
Matt 19:20 The young man said… “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess &give to the poor, & you will have treasure in heaven; & come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Matt 8:21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
Luke 14:25 Now great crowds accompanied him, & he turned & said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me & does not hate his own father & mother & wife & children & brothers & sisters, yes, & even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross & come after me cannot be my disciple. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
Matt 10:17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.
John 15:18 “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 If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
Jesus was honest. He told those who came to him the truth. It was because He told them the truth that they didn’t believe him! This is found in John 8:45…
Because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.
Consider times when Jesus’ words were harsh…
Matt 23:15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
Matt 23:16 “Woe to you, blind guides… 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.
In response to Jesus speaking the truth, the Scribes and Pharisees killed him. But there was at least one who… in response to His harsh words… still had faith. This is found in Matthew 15:25…
She came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.”
Jesus’ words to the woman sound harsh to us. But if a person is willing to go through suffering to be with Christ… like one of the thieves on the cross… they will be loved by Him into eternity. Truth is hard to hear, but required to follow Christ.