I think the sayings of Jesus are the most terrifying and thought-provoking passages in the Bible. Some people say they are ‘inspirational’ and ‘uplifting,’ but I think that people who say things like that either have read them so many times they’re used to them, or they know them only by reputation and not by personal contemplation.
Just read the red letters with your eyes wide open, and you’ll see what I mean. Jesus says that I will have to account for every unkind word I ever said. He said that if I make the least of His followers stumble in their faith, it would be better for me to have a millstone tied around my neck and to be thrown into the sea. Jesus said that it isn’t the way I look to others, it’s the way I am inside that counts. Jesus said that I have to make Him the highest priority in my life; higher than career advancement, higher than my family. I have to be willing to surrender the roof over my head, if necessary. He said that if I deny Him, no matter what the circumstances are, He will deny me. I have to bet my entire life on this crucified Jewish rabbi, or I will lose my soul.
Jesus said that the way I forgive others is the way that He will forgive me. I can just see that—on the last day, I come before the judgment bar and Jesus says, as perhaps I might, “Of course, I forgive you, but there are some things a person just can’t forget!” and then He doesn’t speak to me anymore!
Of course, Jesus said many comforting things as well, but that isn’t what the question was about. But I think that anyone who comes away from the Gospels uplifted but not terrified, or empowered but not humbled, hasn’t really read them at all.
And so I constantly pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” And yet it is somehow not a negative thing to say.