Jesus. Not exactly a neutral name. I mean think about. Let’s take a quick quiz: How many people can say they had such influence, such force they divided the historical timeline? Cue the Jeopardy music . . . oh, but I should have posed the question in the form of an answer and then you would pose your answer in the form of a question and then Alec would say . . . oh, forget it, I never cared much for Jeopardy!
The answer is easy: Jesus.
Here is a man, hailing from Galilee, a carpenter by trade, who claimed to be God in fleshed. A man who claimed to be older than the most significant ancestor in the Jewish religion: Abraham. Not only did he claim to be older than good old Abe; but, he claimed to be greater than the prestigious patriarch.
Of course, Jesus didn’t stop there. Not only did he claim to be greater than Abraham, he claimed to be greater than life, death, this world, sin, worry, the past, present and future . . . yeah, pretty much any and everything: save the Father.
Another quiz: How many people can claim to have walked on water? (And no, Chris Angel doesn’t count!) If you said “one” . . . oh, sorry, incorrect, it was actually two (don’t forget Peter)! Now, if the question had been: How many people have walked on water without sinking? Right! Only one: Jesus!
Okay, you get the point. To say Jesus was pretty special would be . . . well, a classic example of an understatement.
So then, you may be wondering, what is the problem with Jesus?
Was it his extraordinary claims? No, try again.
Was it the “missing years” that the History Channel and others like to make so much of around Christmas and Easter? Nope.
Was it the hidden, hush-hush Gnostic gospels? Nah.
How about whether he was really married to Mary Magdalene and had a few kids and started some secret, exclusive society and . . . No, no Dan Brown that’s not it either.
Was it that we can’t really prove his historicity and that the New Testament wasn’t written for 5,000 years after he “supposedly” existed and . . . Yawn, no that silliness isn’t it either, but keep up the hallucinations and dribble; because, hey, we all need to laugh at something.
So, what is the problem with Jesus then?
Well, it’s quite simple. The problem with Jesus is us! What do I mean?
I mean we (i.e. his followers) often times water him down to the point he’s no longer walking on water, but drowning in it!
We feel we need to help him out. I mean, Jesus is so first century! We need to modernize him a bit. We need to explain what Jesus really meant when he said this or that.
I think we should all be reminded Jesus was fully capable of saying what he meant, without our help whatsoever.
Jesus was not some weak, soft-spoken, skittish guy. He spoke and taught with authority, with an authority those who were listening to him had never heard before.
He spoke truth, because he said it was the only thing that could set you free. He never said it wouldn’t hurt; but he did say it would liberate you.
I remember a friend of mine saying for years he didn’t read much of the New Testament because he was a bit scared of Paul and his writings. I thought, Paul? Paul? I didn’t read much of the NT because of Jesus and his teachings! Even when I was lost in my sin, I knew that whatever Jesus was said it was not common rhetoric; whatever he had taught, it was not the same worn-out ideas of his contemporaries; whatever insight he had, it was enough to reduce me to nothing. I knew then, if I were ever to accept him as the Christ, I would have to deal with him and his teachings. I also knew this would leave me irrevocably changed forever.
So I plead with us all, including (and especially myself), let us allow Jesus to speak for himself. Let’s allow Jesus to speak by the divine authority he rightly has. Let’s allow him to be counter-cultural.
He was (and still is) counter-cultural . . . and for us proud Americans, that includes our culture as well.
More importantly, he was, and is, counter-us. We need to get out of the way and let Jesus be Jesus. We need to allow his light to shine and instead of clutching our flimsy baskets, ready at any moment to cover his light; throw the baskets away and pick up the mirrors and reflect that light.
That is one thing he said after all . . . He claimed to be the light of the world. He also taught we (his followers) are the light of the world. Does this seem contradictory? Do you ask, how can both those be true? Or even, can both those things be true?
The distinction is this: Jesus is the source light and we are the reflective light. We are the mirrors that reflect his light into a world that is dark and lost and cast in shadows and the dread of pitch night. We are the light-bearers. We are the good-news carriers. We are the body of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
In short, we are his. He is our King. He is our Lord.
Instead of trying to help him out, make him more relevant, make him more palatable for people, what we need to do is simply obey. Step in line and live in faith. Walk the path of a disciple and learn from our Master.
The problem with Jesus is us . . . so, let us allow Jesus to speak on his own terms, by his own authority. Let us be silent and listen in meditation and then, simply and profoundly, obey and follow him.
This is the way of the disciple. There is no other.