What don't you like about Jesus?
by Robin Schumacher
Oftentimes when I engage unbelievers in dialog, it’s common to hear a litany of complaints about the Church, the hypocrisy of Christian’s behavior, and so on, with some of the criticisms being valid and others being without merit. However, because Christianity isn’t based on those things, but rather a Person, I do my best to bring them back to Jesus and have them focus on Him instead. A question I typically ask to do this is, “I hear what you’re saying, but let’s talk about Jesus for a minute. Tell me, what don’t you like about Him?”
The vast majority of the time there will be a very pregnant pause in the conversation, and for good reason. When Jesus was illegally put on trial by His enemies, Mark tells us: “Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, and they were not finding any” (Mark 14:55). Christ’s enemies had literally dogged His every step, sent false disciples to try and trick Him into some verbal gaffe, and yet at the end there was absolutely no dirt they could drudge up against Him.
But every now and then, someone I’ve put my question to will bring up something they don’t like about Jesus. The two complaints below are the most common I’ve heard.
Jesus called a woman a ‘dog’
In the gospels, we find the following account:
“Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.” But He answered and
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said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs”” (Matt. 15:21–26).
One objection I’ve heard against Jesus is that he disrespected this particular woman who had come to Him for help. Isn’t His initial silence and following response insulting?
A couple of things are worth noting in this encounter. First, Jesus deliberately went into Gentile regions (Tyre and Sidon), which no pious Jew would think of doing. However, He didn’t go there so much to minister as to take a break from the pressure put upon Him by Herod and the Jewish religious leaders.
In fact, He had previously and explicitly told His disciples to – at this time – focus on Israel and not the Gentiles (cf. Matt. 10:5). Non-Jews were not to be forever ignored, but rather Israel was the primary, initial target of Jesus for He was their promised Messiah who would unfortunately be rejected.
Next, His initial silence is likely due to her “Son of David” remark, which was a Jewish Messianic title. When she, a Gentile, came to Him on Jewish ground/terms, He was silent, but that silence would not last for long…
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