We'd been going through the Gospels, and I'd like to keep at that (taking some detours in subject matter here and there, as comes up). The last posts were here.
Our scriptures for this post are here.
If we aren't always wondering about who Jesus is and what He thinks of different people in this world, and what that means in our own lives, we should. The apostle John gives us some good insights here, for as is often the case, Jesus interacts in the Gospels with a lot of different kinds of people in a very short time.
In these scriptures, for example, we see Jesus interacting with:
- People who make their living from religion
- Religious leaders
- People who don't want others to know they're interested in Jesus
- "Good Religious People"
- Human scum
Well, first of all we see Him at a party, celebrating with people in His social circle. What does that tell us about the idea that Christians are supposed to be dour and stiff all the time.
We also see Him interacting with His mother, asking questions (as He often did others, as well) that test our insight and willingness to go along with His greater wisdom. What does this tell us about how Jesus teaches us and how He expects us to learn?
We see Him interacting with servants - the underdogs of the Jewish world - and in ways that are more than respectful. In fact, these servant underdogs are the only one's of the household who get to see and know exactly what Jesus did, in His miracle of turning the water they brought Him into wine for the guests. This is just as we saw when Jesus was born, and God announced His birth to filthy shepherds and pagans - but not to the "Good Religious People" and their "clergy". What does this say about God's expectations of what different kinds of people will go along with or be pleased about, or how God orders things, in this world?
We see Jesus discovering people making a living God didn't sanction from His temple system (in fact, the only approved way for anyone to make a living in God's religion was to be born in the Levite tribe of Israel, those who worked as priests in the Jewish temple proscribed by the Mosaic Law). We see Jesus getting angry at them and chasing them and their doo-dads out - not because they were ripping people off and such (as some claim), but because they'd figured out how to make people's reverence and want for God into a money-maker.What does that say about our Christian-consumer culture and our books, tapes, "love offerings", and "tithes" that so many have figured out how to sell, and so many of us want so much to buy?
Then He met some religious leaders from the temple, angry that He'd upset their profit-machine. He didn't speak plainly to them. He didn't just explain what they were doing wrong, did He? In fact, He gave them a prophecy, a riddle - something that no one could figure out yet (not even His disciples until after it had happened).When it would later come true, the disciples would remember what He said, understand it, and have an even stronger faith because of it. Do you think the religious leaders later remembered what He'd said? If so, do you think it caused them to believe?
Later another religious leader came secretly to Jesus - in those days, of course, no one visited anyone at night unless they were trying to hide their visit. Nicodemus wanted God's truth, and he sensed it in Jesus - but he wasn't willing to risk losing his religious position and community standing to get it. Jesus still interacted with him, taught him, but He also pointed out ignorant of God's real truth Nicodemus was, despite all his religious expertise. Since God isn't impressed by all the religious scholarship human beings can come up with, and has to teach the "experts" as much as or more than us, why are we so impressed by them? Why do we allow our lives to fall into their spiritual ignorance?
Finally, we see Jesus doing something completely immoral and totally confusing (according to the cultural standards of that time and place): He not only speaks to a woman, He speaks to her when alone with her, and He speaks to her as someone with brains, and He treats her with the same dignity and respect He treats everyone with even those she's "obviously" a "slut" and even though she's from a despised minority. What does it say about Jesus that He didn't give a hoot about the lines human prejudices draw all over the place, defining this person as "ok with God and us" and that person as "not ok with God and us"? What does that say about Jesus in your life?
What does all this say about Jesus Christ - and therefore, about God?
- Does Jesus care more about the theoretical and scholarship we come up with, or with how our day-to-day lives are going?
- Does this show Jesus running around eager to condemn people, or does it show Him hoping to teach and grow us closer to God's truth?
- If we get more involved in our "godly" religious practices and positions than with God Himself right in front of us, are we more or less likely to get plain, easy answers from God? Are we even likely to see God when He's right in front of us?
- If you're Gay, or female, or part of some other grouping that others despise, does that affect how God sees you, or what God expects of you?
This article written by Lynne at No Junk. Just Jesus. You can contact Lynne at NoJunkJustJesus@gmail.com.