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A fictional conversation from the first century A.D.

Stefanus: I wish you would change your mind, Gratian. You are going to be made fun of and marginalized.

Gratian: Any suffering or ostracism I may face will not compare with the glory that awaits me.

Stefanus: Glory? I fear you are losing your mental grasp of things. Have you not seen the splendor and glory of the Empire? Don’t you see how Roman principles are extending throughout all the earth?

Gratian: The Empire looks powerful, yes. But God’s kingdom will outlast it.

Stefanus: Surely, you jest!

Gratian: Jesus said so.

Stefanus: You continue to speak about this backwoods Jew who taught all sorts of strange things. I fear for what may happen to you when you refuse to pinch incense at the altar and reveal your dedication to the Empire’s gods.

Gratian: I will refuse.

Stefanus: But why? You know that the Empire is a tolerant, broad-minded place for people of good will who believe in all sorts of gods…

Gratian: As long as worshipping Caesar trumps them all…

Stefanus: Of course, but you still have the freedom to worship privately as you please –

Gratian: - as long as publicly, I bow the knee to Caesar.

Stefanus: What is the harm in recognizing the absolute authority of Caesar?

Gratian: I would be telling a lie. The emperor is under King Jesus.

Stefanus: Keep your voice down. Do you realize what you are saying?

Gratian: I will answer to King Jesus. So will you. And so will Caesar.

Stefanus: You dare challenge the ultimate authority of the Empire? Can’t you see the progress of history? Are you so blind… to ignore that history is moving in Caesar’s direction? Recent surveys show that people are not putting up with you and your silly ideas… your simpleminded way of life.

Gratian: I don’t follow Jesus because He is popular, but because He saved me.

Stefanus: Think logically for a moment about this Jesus of yours and what he taught.

  • He said he was the Savior, but anyone can see that Caesar is the one in whom we have security.
  • He said we should never divorce, but anyone can see it is in the best interest of men to be able to put away their wives.
  • He said we should care for the least of these, but anyone can see that poor fathers and mothers should be free to abandon their newborns to the trash heap.
  • He said we should love our enemies, but anyone can see that we should favor our friends and punish our opponents.
  • He said we should never commit adultery or even lust after another, but anyone can see that sexual openness is more natural for human happiness.
  • He said there are things that don’t belong to Caesar, but anyone can see that Caesar is in charge of everything.

Gratian: What are you saying then?

Stefanus: That Jesus is obviously on the wrong side of history. The world is moving forward and you are stuck in the past following the bizarre teachings of a Jewish leader. Recant your strange beliefs! Or at least stay quiet about them.

Gratian: I cannot, and I will not. I do not see history the same way you do.

Stefanus: Why not?

Gratian: No matter how confident you are that history is moving in an upward progression and that the Roman Empire will expand across the earth and lead all to eternal peace and harmony, you are wrong. The kingdom I belong to will outlast the Empire, despite the appearances.

Stefanus: How do you know this?

Gratian: Because my King came back from the dead. And the One who defeats death is the One who defines history.

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24 thoughts on “Jesus is On the Wrong Side of History”

  1. Ben Hein says:

    There is, as they say, nothing new under the sun.

  2. Mark Moore says:

    Trying to figure out why I read this with an English accent.

    1. AStev says:

      I know why *I* read it with an accent… because I just watched a Doctor Who trailer a few minutes earlier.

      The really odd thing is that I’m now reading my own comment with a British accent.

    2. Patrick says:

      Me too…!!!!! Haha.

    3. Joe Wisnieski says:

      My Gratian sounds a lot like Gandalf.

  3. Mark Nelson says:

    How much we can learn for the present.

  4. Mark B. says:

    Love the post! I’ve been reading and hearing quite a bit recently about being on the wrong side of history, especially concerning homosexuality. I don’t care what side of history I’m on as long as I’m on the same side as Jesus.

    1. Lori says:

      And yet, we shouldn’t assume that, if we’re on the wrong side, Jesus is on our side. History has shown that segregationists were on the wrong side of history, but they were sure Jesus was on their side, and history is littered with such cases.

      1. B. Warshaw says:

        Segregationists wanted to deny a people equal access to services for genetic reasons. The Bible does not make prohibitions against being African, or say that Africans will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.

        Truly Christian opponents of homosexual unions (and I make the distinction “truly Christian”, because there are plenty who operate based purely on fear or disgust) want to deny a people something out of love, the same way in which parents deny their children equal access to alcohol, or uninhibited access to candy or cake.

        Love, by necessity, must at times say “no”, because love seeks the best for its object. I cannot claim to love my homosexual neighbors and then pronounce my blessing on what the Bible says leads to destruction.

        Jesus says “if you know me, you walk the way I walk”. Jesus did not stone the woman caught in adultery, but neither did he tell her to go back to her faithless ways. He said “go and sin no more”. I don’t know a single Christian who is advocating that we annihilate the homosexuals in our midst. But we do pray and preach, in the hope that the power of the gospel will annihilate their sin.

      2. JohnM says:

        Lori you miss the point. We don’t want Jesus to be on our side in the first place, as that would be getting things backwards. And we’re more concerned about which side of eternity we’re on than which side of history, the latter being something that will come to an end in any case.

  5. Lori says:

    Pretty sure the scribes and pharisees who wanted the adulterous woman stoned were on the wrong side of history, and Jesus didn’t stand with them.

    1. Patrick says:

      No one in the church is calling for homosexuals to be stoned. That’s a grossly incorrect comparison and unfair and un-constructive hyperbole on your part. The church should call people to base their identity in Christ and His word and teachings. The current issue with homosexuality poses a genuine challenge for the church. The church will be under pressure to treat homosexuals as an identity group when according to scripture, they are not an identity group, they are a behavior group. I no more try to persuade people at church to treat any lust in my heart as an affirmed identity.

  6. Frank63 says:

    Lori, the question is how do we judge what is the “right side of history”? Our current culture, at least in the West, believes that society is always marching forward to progress, particularly in matters related to sexuality. Back at the beginning of the sexual revolution in the 1960s, those who raised alarms about the introduction of no fault divorce laws and the growing acceptance of premarital sexual activity were dismissed as prudes who were on the “wrong side of history”. Now a few decades later our society is littered with the rotten fruit of that revolution. Whether it’s skyrocketing rates of out of wedlock births, sexually transmitted diseases, broken families, fatherlessness and it’s effect on crime, those lying in graves from AIDS. I could go on and on with additional examples of the havoc that has been wreaked upon our society by our culture’s “progress” when it comes to sexual mores. Yet despite all this evidence, our culture still mocks traditional values. The 1950s are a constant butt of jokes even though in almost every measurable way society was much more stable back then. I will grant you the one exception of segregation. That is about the only issue where things are better now than they were 50 years ago. On almost every other front our culture is in decline.

    1. Crime rates have dropped significantly in the last few decades. For the most part cities are much safer now they were in the 50’s. Out of wedlock birth numbers are skewed mainly because women are waiting longer to get married, and many parents choose to live together without formalizing it with marriage vows. So it’s not the same thing as young women having babies and then being abandoned by the fathers. If anything, teen pregnancy was a much bigger problem in the 50’s.

      Also, back then domestic violence was a more accepted part of marriage. Women who spoke out about domestic abuse were shunned and scorned, especially if they divorced their husbands. So while I understand the concern over divorce rate, society is actually much better off now than it was back then.To use a current example, back in the 50’s people would have scorned Rihanna for even considering leaving Chris Brown. Now people scorn Chris Brown.

      1. Mel says:

        Yes the world is filled with love and harmony. That’s why Chris Brown doesn’t have a career any more. Oh wait he still does. So does Woody Allen. People cheered when OJ Simpson got away with murder. A woman filibustered a bill that would have required abortion clinics be inspected and regulated and protected a baby’s life after twenty weeks. Hollywood is cheering thru twitter. Tim Tebow is demonized for showing expressions of faith while players that like to have sex with other men are called heroes.
        When I was a kid a heroe was someone that saved lives at the risk of their own.

        But what can we expect? The people in charge are the ones that spit on soldiers drafted to war and called them “baby killers”. Ironic

  7. Michael Snow says:

    “Have you not seen the splendor and glory of the Empire?”
    How many American evangelicals have been under that same spell?
    Or those in Spurgeon’s day to whom he gave a clear answer:

  8. anaquaduck says:

    A good read…got me thinking, then writing


    “The wrong side of history” seems to be a faith statement when spoken in modern times in a language or accent of contradiction & self-confidence. “This is the 21st Century” on the other hand expects change & development along with the assumption that things are moving forward & improving…we don’t do it like that anymore. That can be a great thing when thinking of maturity in our lives & the Christian rejoices in this type of change. Turning away from God however only invites ruin & alienation of the heart & soul, something longer lasting than any political system… For all its modern appearance it’s going backwards, it’s a direction that has separated us from connectivity with God who enabled us to be creative & intelligent.

    The police tell us who’s on the wrong side of the road, a judge or jury decides who’s on the wrong side of the law, Jesus teaches us who’s on the wrong side of God & it’s got nothing to do with popularity or democracy. Looking back at the mistakes of others can be a sobering thing to consider & learn from, our own mistakes also. The rise & fall of pride & prejudice on this planet operates on many levels. For the time being this is how it is, claim, claim & counter claim. Amidst this, the people of God walk the path of faith & amidst the people, God the Spirit himself walks…Ave

  9. jojody says:

    Quite interesting. But my question is how come Jesus is on the wrong side. My parent thought me that God is always on the good side.

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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