You know, Jesus is quite a comfortable guy. He’s spoken words that echo through history, he was loving, and he spoke words of wisdom so undeniable that your average Joe can’t deny them as anything but. He’s a great teacher. He’s a great man. He’s a role model.
But you know what? While Jesus was laying in the cradle in Bethlehem, he was holding the universe together with the word of his power, making sure the sun still shone, and keeping Schrodinger’s cat alive inside its little box. He was love, but he was holy. He came to earth and became earth’s fulcrum, the thing that redefined history, and constantly places our definitions in stark relation to himself.
In that, Jesus isn’t comfortable at all. In fact, he’s a downright scary figure. Can you think of something that you define based on a natural instinct? Here comes Jesus into you little intellectual temple – and he starts kicking tables over! Your natural – or, more to the point – sinful attitudes are always in stark contrast to what he taught. Always.
The first century Jews certainly didn’t have a category for him. They’d already drawn the lines around their Messiah. The problem? Romans. Invaders. Occupiers. The solution? Revolution. War on the heathens, all led by the coming Messiah.
And then the tables are turned and suddenly the context of the story changes. The Jews find out that the problem is actually sin, and the solution is atonement and reconcilliation. And not only for them, the chosen, the special, but for the heathen invaders of their promised land? That promised land a picture of one to come? The sacrifices essentially worthless? Talk about a good smack upside the preconception!
You have to wonder if we’re starting to do the same thing. The problem? Emotional instability. Broken marriages. Bad investments. The solution? A Jesus who looks like Frued, or like a marriage councellor, or like a magic eight-ball for the Dow-Jones.
The problem is still sin. The solution is still atonement and reconcilliation. And faith with its attendant good works. It’s rather shocking when you actually come to imagine living that way – and imagining that Jesus isn’t a nice fellow out to meet your temporal needs. Maybe he’ll do that. Or maybe he’ll wreck your house, kill your family, wipe out your investments, give you cancer before you finally get somewhere. The upshot is, of course, that you’ll enter an eternity full of Romans and heathens, and also first century Jews still shaking their head, going, “Can you believe that Jesus guy?”