Put away your childhood images of a pale-skin, weak-wrist Jesus. He is as scary as Hell.
Christopher Hitchens seems to get this. He seems to be appropriately appalled at the New Testament. This is clear just in the titles of chapters seven and eight in his book God is Not Great:
Chapter 7: Revelation – the Nightmare of the Old Testament
Chapter 8: The New Testament Exceeds the Evil of the Old One
Those who take the Bible seriously can find common ground with Christopher Hitchens (at least on this one point). The idea that there is a grumpy and mean God of the Old Testament as compared to a loving and mild God in the New Testament is ridiculous. The liberal notion of demonizing the God of the Old Testament and feminizing the God of the New Testament is false.
Jesus is as scary as Hell. While Hitchens puts his poor biblical scholarship on display by saying that Jesus invented Hell, he at least recognized that the Jesus of the Bible was not a laissez-fair peace keeper.
Jesus did not water down truth nor present a harmless picture of God. Instead, he insisted:
“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell….Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:28,32-34)
The Apostle Paul provides a powerful summary of Jesus’ role in the future of humanity:
“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31)
There are things more terrible than physical death.
Jesus told his followers not to fear men because they could only inflict mortal wounds.
He said we should fear the one who can kill both body and soul in Hell.
The Apostle Paul emphasized that one day every person will acknowledge this truth:
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)
One day God will judge the world through Jesus. One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, “Jesus is Lord.”
For those who have rejected Him, He will be as scary as Hell.
May our hearts be alive to the gospel, and may our lives be spent in earnest devotion of sharing the good news with the world.