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Why did Irreligious People and Skeptics Like Jesus?

Was it the miracles? The healings? The overcoming of the demonic? The teaching?

I think that there was something else before all of those things.

I think that irreligious people liked Jesus because Jesus liked them.

I use ‘like’ instead of ‘love’ very deliberately. It’s a lot more pc to ascribe love to Jesus, but we risk missing the point that he actually liked people, enjoyed them, was lit up by them.

Like when he met Nathaniel. (John 1:43-51) Interesting that Nathaniel was a skeptic, totally biased against anyone coming from Nazareth. When his friend, Phillip, invited him to come meet Jesus, mentioning that he was from Nazareth, Nathaniel said, “Are you kidding me?” Yet, Jesus lit up when Nathaniel approached and gave his own version of, “Are you kidding me?”

Jesus’ version was a positive declaration, “There’s nothing fake about this guy!”

Three lessons about liking people from this story.

1. Jesus saw beneath the surface. Many skeptics are frustrated believers. Don’t ever forget that. They want to believe, but much of the extra stuff that goes along with religion has made them cynical about the possibility.

2. Jesus was committed to like him before he met him. When he astounded Nathaniel with, “I saw you when you were alone under the fig tree,” which pretty much freaked out good old Nate, he was saying, “I’m already there with you, man.”

3. Jesus imagined much more for Nathaniel. He knew that this encounter was just the beginning of the adventure of heaven opening up to Nathaniel.

Nathaniel did not really fit into the irreligious category of “tax collectors and sinners”, but he came as a skeptic. And, Jesus liked him.

Lord, help us look deeper than the surface. Help us begin with a commitment. Help us imagine and pursue your best in the lives of others. Oh, yeah, Lord, help us to know that you like us, too.

Tomorrow: What keeps us from liking people in the way that Jesus did?


  1. This post is fresh breeze.  Wish I lived in Durham! Blessings on The Gathering Church.