Jesus’ ministry was known as a ministry of many things. It was a ministry of healing (spiritual and physical), teaching and preaching, redemption, justification, reconciliation and suffering. But it was also a ministry of controversy. Why was Jesus’ ministry so controversial? While there are many reasons for such, the following will provide some insight into why it was so controversial.
It was controversial because the people did not accept the fact that He had come from the Father and thus they did not recognize His authority or give Him the honor He was due. It was controversial because the leaders of the day, both religious and secular, were threatened by Jesus and felt that if He was allowed to succeed they might lose their positions of prestige and authority. It was controversial because they had looked for a physical fulfillment of many of the OT prophecies that related to Christ and thus Jesus was not what they expected or wanted.
It was controversial because Jesus did things that were not in keeping with their traditions, such as washing of hands (Mark 7:2-5), ceremonial fasting (Matt. 9:14-15), and healing on the Sabbath (John 5:16). In the end it was controversial because Jesus made Himself out to be equal with God (John 5:17-18). Jesus at every turn did things that were not in keeping with the people’s expectations or traditions. Because of this His ministry was surrounded by controversy and turmoil, and because of this they sought to kill Him.
If I had to boil it down I would say that the following was the real reason why Jesus’ ministry was so surrounded by controversy: It is because of the fact that the people did not really honor God as they should have (John 5:22-23). If they would have truly given God the honor He deserved, they would have then honored the Son who came from the Father. Here is an important lesson! No one can honor God if they do not honor His Son.
One can think they are giving honor to God while in reality dishonoring Him. The Jews did such on many occasions and even Paul at one time thought he was honoring God by persecuting members of the church. Thus, we do not honor the Father or the Son unless we do so in the proper manner.
Jesus is worthy of our honor. All will one day give honor to the Son, the only question is whether or not we will do so by choice, or because we have no choice (Phil. 2:9-11). There are but two choices in this life of any real consequence in the end. That is whether we choose to give honor to the Son or whether we choose not to. Which will you choose?
Brian Mitchell (slightly adapted)
Jackson church of Christ