Some people in life are extremely polarizing. They seem to bring out the best and worst in others. They may be fiercely despised by their enemies, while at the same time universally adored by their admirers. Politicians, athletes, and entertainers are often polarizing. But the most polarizing man who ever lived was a man in the Bible who “came preaching the gospel of God.” (Mark 1:14) He was the most loved man who ever lived. And the most hated. He was the Son of God. His name was Jesus.
The followers of Jesus loved him “unto death.” According to history, of his twelve original disciples, ten of them died violent, martyr's deaths out of devotion to him. One was a traitor (Judas), and one lived a long life of persecution (John). And in the two thousand years since his earthly ministry ended, thousands of his followers have been killed for their faith. And more are still yet to be killed (see Revelation 6:11).
While it might seem odd to hate someone who preached peace, Jesus told his followers not to be surprised when the world hated them. Since they were not “of the world” they could expect hatred from the world. (John 15:19) He also said that, since the world hated him the world would also hate his followers. And therein lies an interesting mystery. The man who was so beloved by his followers was also despised by his enemies. Devotion to Jesus sometimes breaks up families (Luke 12:53). Devotion to Jesus might bring persecution and death. Devotion to Jesus also leads to eternal life.
The enemies of Jesus hated him so badly they had him killed as an enemy of the state. The “governing authorities” of his day, both Roman and Jewish, signed his death warrant and had him publicly crucified. The Jewish leaders of the day brought forth lying witnesses who contradicted one another. But it didn't matter. They were bent on his destruction and eventually the Roman governor Pilate signed on to it. Jesus was polarizing. Jesus still is.
While Jesus is rightly called the “Prince of Peace” he also preached that salvation could only come through him (John 14:6). He didn't preach a liberal message of “all roads lead to Heaven.” To the contrary he taught that sinners must repent and submit to him in order to be saved. As the Son of God he knew the Father and he knew the way to the Father. And he alone was the way.
In an interesting twist, his killers were actually doing God's will. Jesus died to pay the price for the sins of his people, those who would trust in him. Though Satan no doubt roared with delight at Jesus's crucifixion, in truth Satan was defeated on that day. Proven unequivocally three days later, when Jesus rose from the dead. One day we will all stand before the Lord with Heaven and Hell hanging in the balance. And this polarizing preacher named Jesus will determine your eternal destiny. Trust in him and embrace the world's scorn. Or reject him and face the Lord's wrath. Ignoring him isn't an option. You will either love him or hate him. But indifference isn't possible with the most polarizing man who ever lived.