The Meghan Trainor of Galilee

Someone told me recently that at his church they invite everyone to receive Communion, even […]

Someone told me recently that at his church they invite everyone to receive Communion, even if they are not Christians (which is a theological debate for another time). What got me was his reasoning. “Everybody’s welcome,” he said, “because Jesus never said no to anyone.” He said it like it’s a thing. Like something that we all agree on. The way people say, “Episode V, amirite?”

The only problem is Jesus said no all the time.

He’s the Meghan Trainor of Galillee: “My name is… no! My sign is… no! My number is… no!”

Allow me license to paraphrase as we recall the greatest hits of Jesus’ extensive catalog of negativity:

He told Nicodemus, “Salvation ain’t automatic—gotta be born again.” He told the young ruler, “Sure you can follow me…after you sell all your stuff!” He rebuked Peter angrily (“Get behind me, Satan!”) when he tried to dissuade Jesus from his cross-ward path. When the disciples told Jesus to send the hungry crowds home, he said, “No, you give them something to eat.”


The Pharisees sent Jesus a cease-and-desist about his Sabbath healings. NO.

Jesus’ family tried to get him to tone down the crazy end-of-the-world talk. NO.

His disciples tried to get him to rain hellfire on a town that rejected him. NO.

When the Syro-phoenician woman asked for her daughter’s healing, he said, “That’s a great idea…for me to poop on!” (OK, Jesus was a little kinder than Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, but not much.)

So why does my friend (and so many others) have this vision of Jesus as the world’s biggest doormat, Jesus “Never-say-no” Christ?

Well, he’s half right. Jesus was actually super (as the college kids say, drawing out the “oo” for emphasis) welcoming and loving to sufferers and sinners and all manner of unwashed masses. He spent time talking with the 7-times married outcast woman. He took time to bless children in a time when “children are better seen, not heard (or hugged)” was the dominant parenting philosophy. He touched lepers, had compassion on the crowds, and poured out his healing power on all kinds of hard cases.

To those folks, Jesus Christ was always and ever yes. Yes to grace, yes to God’s love, yes to “redemption and release.”


But he also said no a lot. And the reason he usually said no was because people were full of their egos. Their own attachments to control. They were guilty of that great sin: pride.

And Jesus stood as the great immovable steel-reinforced concrete wall as they drove their Mack truck of ego, self-improvement and bootstrapping towards him.

Jesus’ “no” was to bring people to the end of themselves. To hasten the depletion of their own reserves, their own self-salvation plans, their search for identity in anything other than God.

Jesus says no so that we can see that it is not us who come to God on our own terms. Rather, his no—the breakup, the termination, the bankruptcy, the DUI, the diagnosis—shatters us so that he can come to us on his. And he can knit us back together. Whole. Restored. Resurrected.

So, did Jesus never say no?

Nah to the ah.

Praise God.