How to Be Unpopular


If you’re looking for a quick path to becoming the least popular person in the room, turn to everyone around you and criticize their culture. Challenge their ideas of reality. Force them to think about long-held beliefs in a new and revolutionary way. Ask them to upend their sense of right and wrong. Tell them that they have a limited worldview. Do this, and maybe you’ll have a sense of how Jesus felt standing among the most religious Jews of his day. 

  • How did you respond the last time someone made statements that made you uncomfortable?


19 “Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


1. How would crucifying Jesus prove his allegations in verse 19?

2. How did the crowd explain Jesus’ remarks (vs. 20)?

3. In verse 21, Jesus was referring to his healing a man on the Sabbath, and how the crowd was astonished that he would do such a thing. Why were they angry with him (vss. 22-23)?

4. How did Jesus instruct the crowd on proper judgment (vs. 24)? Why is this enigmatic, and how can we interpret what he means?


Like the Jews in this passage, our response to criticism is often to label others as out of touch, or insane, or unenlightened. We don’t like our worldview to be challenged. The truth is that we need to be open to changing our way of life, or realizing that perhaps we have missed the mark. Reading this, we wonder how this crowd could be so blind about Sabbath technicalities. But we do the same things. We obsess over church culture and church events at the expense of the gospel. We obsess over comfort and wealth at the expense of the gospel. We obsess over a false shell of busyness at the expense of the gospel. What is it that you obsess over at the expense of the gospel?

  • Pray for God to reveal some ways you may need to adjust your worldview to be more aligned with the gospel and his purposes.