Ten Jesus Quotes—Among Many—Christians Could Do Without

What would Jesus do?—Well, that’s anybody’s guess

Let’s start on a positive note—before I move on to discuss very problematic Jesus quotes from the gospels. Of course, there are good Jesus quotes, and I like to combine Matthew 7:1-2 with John 8:7, which are, in fact, hard for conservative Christians especially to deal with:
“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For the judgment you give will be the judgment you get, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”
“Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
But evangelicals savor despising gay people, feminists, and those who campaign for women’s rights (such as access to abortion). So they have ways to work around these compassionate teachings of Jesus, not to judge, not to throw stones. Their severe Christianity demands strident opposition. So Jesus can take a hike—at least they turn their backs on these quotes of their lord and savior: they can’t mean what they seem to mean.
It's probable that mainstream Christians aren’t so sure. But then they have to deal with Jesus quotes that are even more troubling—to say the least. Since many of the devout neglect basic Bible reading/study, they aren’t aware of many of the problematic Jesus quotes, and their clergy commonly avoid mentioning these texts in their sermons. 
Let’s look at ten of them.
(1)  Matthew 10:34-36:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.”
The purpose of Jesus’ coming to earth was to damage/destroy families? The next few verses elaborate on this theme, adding the role his ego played:
(2)  Matthew 10:37-39:
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”
There is a parallel text to this in Luke’s gospel, the infamous 14:46: “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” If Luke knew about Matthew 10:37-39, he apparently felt it was not strong enough. Hence his use of the word hate. Hatred of family, and even life itself, was a requirement for being a disciple.
With these texts we run into a blunt fact about Christianity that most of the devout don’t want to think about, at least those outside an extreme fundamentalist mindset. The earliest Jesus believers were a breakaway Jewish sect, which is best described as a cult—as demonstrated so clearly by these texts from Matthew and Luke. Cults expected undivided loyalties, which meant that attachment to family had to be abandoned. One of the scariest chapters in the gospels is Mark 13. This is a stark introduction to cult delusion—and it’s presented as Jesus-script. 

Those in the cult would have the privilege of seeing the world disintegrate as their precious kingdom of god arrived.
(3)  Mark 13:7-8:
“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.” 
(4)  Mark 13:12-13:
“Sibling will betray sibling to death and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

(5) Mark 13:30-31: 
“Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
This generation will not pass away. So keep awake! In this Jesus-script, believers are to behave as servants whose master has gone on a journey:
(6)  Mark 13:35-37:
“…keep awake, for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening or at midnight or at cockcrow or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”  In chapter 14, Jesus promises those at his trial that they will see him seated by at god’s right hand, and then “coming with the clouds of heaven.” (v. 62)
It is still the expectation among many Christians that Jesus will keep his word. They watch the skies, they examine Bible texts to see if there are hidden clues about when Jesus will descend through the clouds. Repeatedly, dates have been announced, then excuses offered as to why Jesus failed to appear. But these folks can’t admit that their Bible got it wrong. The Jesus portrayed in Mark’s gospel expected god’s kingdom to be initiated very soon. Perhaps this author was influenced by the apostle Paul’s strong conviction that Jesus would not delay long. We can be sure that many modern Christians divert their eyes from these texts—they wish these Jesus quotes could be deleted—because they just don’t make sense. Unless one’s brain is still held captive by the cult mentality. Others can face the facts, as John Loftus has pointed out: “So if Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet, then he was a failed one, just like every other doomsday prophet in history—before and after him.” (p. 325, The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails)
Now let’s look at three remarkable Jesus quotes—remarkable for their severity and lack of compassion. 
In Matthew 10, Jesus sends his disciples out to preach in surrounding villages. How do we respond today to missionaries who knock on our doors? It might have been pretty much the same back then. Here’s what Jesus says to reassure his disciples.
(7)  Matthew 10:14-15:
“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.” 
In other words: those who don’t listen to your preaching will have their houses and villages burned down. And that day of judgment isn’t too far away.
Speaking of which, one of the most famous texts in the New Testament is Matthew 25, in which Jesus describes how his god will render judgment over “all the nations gathered before him.” People who have been compassionate will receive their reward: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…” (v. 34) But those who have failed at compassion (i.e., didn’t welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit people in prison), will face the consequences: 
(8)  Matthew 25:46:
“…these will go away into eternal punishment…” 
Many Christians today should probably tremble at this severity. Do they do all they can to welcome strangers (such as refugees crossing our borders), feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit people in prison? Failure of compassion seems to be the big sin here. Strange that Jesus neglected to mention, specifically, owning slaves, oppressing women, beating up on gay people. 
One of the texts that the devout adore the most is John 3:16, “God so loved the world that he gave his only son…”  How wonderful, God is Love. But please read all of John 3, carefully, critically. We also find these severe words of warning:
(9)  John 3:18 and John 3:34:
“…those who do not believe are condemned already because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life but must endure God’s wrath.”
This is more cult fanaticism: ours in the one true religion, and you will be wiped out by our god if you don’t believe exactly what we believe; if you don’t believe in the magical power of his son’s name. 
Just as Mark 13 is one of the scariest chapters in the gospels, so John’s gospel provides us with perhaps the most ghoulish text. The Jesus believers had adopted the dying-and-rising savior hero (worshipped by other ancient cults) as the model for their own hero. Sacred meals could be part of the ritual, and in John 6:53-57 we find full strength magical thinking, indeed magic potions:
(10)  John 6:53-57:
“…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day, for my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.”
With such superstition, the gospels sink to a new low. This is bad theology, bad religion. Who wants to believe that Jesus said any such thing? Please delete!
Relief is on the way, however! Although devout Christians probably won’t welcome it. Since the gospels were written decades after the death of Jesus, and since there is no contemporaneous documentation (diaries, letters, transcripts) by which to verify the words attributed to Jesus, we have no way of knowing what he said. I often refer to Jesus-script, because that’s what the gospel writers created. There is no such thing as an authentic Jesus quote. The author of John’s gospel ran wild with the idea, putting words in Jesus’ mouth that are not found in the other gospels. This is not the way to write history, but it is the common practice of theologians. 
We actually have no way of knowing what Jesus would do.
David Madison was a pastor in the Methodist Church for nine years, and has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University. He is the author of two books, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith, now being reissued in several volumes, the first of which is Guessing About God (2023) and Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (2021). The Spanish translation of this book is also now available. 
His YouTube channel is here. At the invitation of John Loftus, he has written for the Debunking Christianity Blog since 2016.
The Cure-for-Christianity Library©, now with more than 500 titles, is here. A brief video explanation of the Library is here