4 of the Hardest Sayings of Jesus Explained

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

We know that Jesus said some pretty hard things to people and hard for them to understand, so what are 4 of Jesus’ hardest sayings and how do we explain them?

Eat My Flesh, Drink My Blood

We know that Jesus said some pretty hard things to people and hard for them to understand, so what are 4 of Jesus’ hardest sayings and how do we explain them? Can you imagine going up to someone who is not saved and telling them they must eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood or they have no life in them? I’m sure they wouldn’t understand because only by the Spirit can we understand the Bible (1 Cor 2:13; Rom 8:7; Psalm 119:105). When Jesus told the crowd, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (John 6:56), even His own disciples did not understand it. Eventually they would and only because God revealed it to them, but tragically, “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (John 6:60). Today, most cannot listen to Jesus’ words and not be offended by them and that’s why after Jesus said this, “many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him” (John 6:60). That’s why the main persecutors of the church accused Christians of being cannibals, but Jesus was speaking about the Lord’s Supper or Communion where He established a new and better covenant and where believers are commanded to partake of the broken body of Christ (the bread) and drink His blood (the juice).

“Take; this is my body … this is my blood of the covenant …”

The Dead Bury their Dead

There was a man who approached Jesus once about being His disciple and saying he would follow Him, but the problem was, he was not willing to forsake all and follow Christ. This is why the man told Jesus, “let me first go and bury my father” (Matt 8:21). How did Jesus respond to this? He said “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead” (Matt 8:22). We might think that this is a very harsh or cold statement by Jesus, however, this man’s father was not even dead yet. He wanted to wait until his father died to receive his father’s inheritance first…and then, and only them, would he follow Jesus. In telling the man to let the dead bury their dead, He was speaking figuratively in a sense because whoever is not saved is spiritually dead…dead in their sins (Eph 2:1; Col 2:13). Jesus is not calling us to a part-time Christianity. We must be all in and follow Him and not wait around for the things of the world.

You Must Be Perfect

One saying I’ve struggled with over the years is one you might have struggled with too. It was where Jesus said, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48). Knowing me, there’s not a chance at all of me ever being perfect…at least this die of heaven, so when Jesus said we must be perfect as God is perfect, they must have been astonished. Like you and I, they must have realized that no one was perfect or can be perfect. In fact, I’m infinitely far from perfect. How can we be perfect!!? The Apostle Paul says that it was “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). The righteousness of God is required to enter heaven, but the righteousness is provided by God through faith in Christ. What is means is that God sees us as having the same righteousness that Christ has if we trust in Him. Naturally, we’ll never be perfect in this life, but God renders unto us the perfection that is in Jesus Christ by His atoning for our sins and God imputing the righteousness of God toward us on His (Christ’s) behalf.

Bringing a Sword

In Matthew 10:34 Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword,” but I read where Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” (John 14:2a)? So did He bring us peace or a sword? The answer is, “Yes.” He’s brought both a sword and peace to our world. We are at peace with God because if Jesus Christ (Rom 5:1), but truth divides. It brings conflict. We know that Jesus wasn’t advocating a violent overthrow of society. Jesus explains this hard saying by commenting that, “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 a person’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Matt 10:35-36). The Word of God is described as a sword (Eph 6:17; Heb 4:12). Jesus’ saying proved to be true then…and it still proves true today. Many a family member has been spurned or rejected because of their faith in Jesus Christ, so one family member (a believer) is set against another family member (non-believer), and this division also includes co-workers, friends, neighbors and acquaintances. That’s why Jesus said He came to bring a sword.


Jesus spoke hard words to hard hearts but soft words to soft hearts, but preachers today who speak only soft words will produce hard hearts. We must hear the full counsel of God and His righteous wrath against sinners and call them to repentance and belief in the gospel as Jesus commanded (Mark 1:15). If you have not yet put your trust in Christ, then you are in real danger of hell fire. Every one of us is only one breath, one heartbeat or one accident away from eternity when we can no longer repent. This is why today is the best day to believe (2 Cor 6:2). Tomorrow may not even come for you, so if Jesus Christ came today, read what happens to you (Matt 7:21-23). This is reason enough to repent today and put your trust in the Savior. If you refuse, you will certainly face God’s judgment after death guaranteed (Heb 9:27,) or at the appearance of Jesus Christ (Rev 20:12-15), whatever happens to come first.

Here is some related reading for you: The Hard Sayings of Jesus

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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