What if Jesus turns out to be someone we don’t like?
In Luke 4:14-30 we read about how Jesus, having just started his preaching ministry, returns to his hometown. Kinda like the singing competition TV shows. When they get near the final round, they send the remaining contestants home with a film crew to adoring crowds in their high schools, and the mayor gives them the key to the city. Jesus was the boy next door for 30 years. But in recent months he went away and has started a reputation for preaching and healing people in nearby towns.
In Nazareth, the townspeople have quite a reaction to their now famous son. Read the story here.
They had created a mold. Jesus was the carpenter’s son. That’s how they knew him.
On that day, Jesus broke the mold. No longer a carpenter, now he is the Messiah on a mission, and it was a mission that was a whole lot bigger than the town of Nazareth. He couldn’t be contained in the box they had created for him in their minds.
He wasn’t a magician who could just pull out his tricks for them, to entertain them.
He was something wholly other.
I wonder if we have created a box for Jesus.
Is it possible that we have a way of understanding Jesus, of following Jesus, that works very well for us, and is comfortable for us?
I wonder if we really knew him, would we see him break out of that box?
I wonder if that would anger us. Threaten us. Scare us.
Too often our box for Jesus is that Jesus is calm, and meek, and just wants to hug us all the time. 12 years ago Vintage Church created a series of four videos where they took an older Jesus movie and dubbed new vocal tracks. They were doing a four week series on Jesus and they made the videos as satire to reveal how our view of Jesus can be very different from what he actually was and from what he actually wants us to be. Check them out on YouTube. Have you put Jesus in a box?
One way to tell if you have put Jesus in a box of your own making, is to think about how you would react if Jesus visited your church. I think that if Jesus came and read Scripture to us, told us some Bible stories, we wouldn’t get up in anger to throw him off a cliff. I don’t think we do that at all.
I actually think we would be receptive to his teaching.
At least to his face. We would smile. We might nod our heads.
But inwardly we would be thinking “Ok, let’s finish this us, Jesus. I’m hungry and want to get to lunch.”
“That was a nice sermon Jesus, thanks. OK, cool, see you later. I need to get home for football…oh bummer…there’s no more football…what the heck am I going to do this afternoon?”
Do we really hear what Jesus said about his mission, about being his disciples?
Deitrich Bonhoeffer once said that when Jesus calls us to be his disciples, he bids us come and die.
While I don’t think we would try to throw Jesus off a cliff, I wonder if we would take him seriously. Follow him to death? Nope, not sure if I’m interested in that.
Philip Yancey has a fascinating book called The Jesus I Never Knew, and his basic premise is that when he opened up the Bible and started studying Jesus, he was shocked. He thought he knew Jesus. He had grown up in church all his life. Heard the stories of Jesus many times. But when he really started going deep, he met a Jesus that he had never known.
Just the like the people in Nazareth that day, I wonder if Jesus has become the boy next door for us.
But know this:Jesus’ mission is radical, it calls us to give our lives, and I’m convinced that it will probably ruffle our feathers, call us to more, be uncomfortable, and different from what we thought.
It means we’ll have to change.
It means we’ll experience a whole new life, his life, he called it abundant life. And that life will be far better than the American Dream.