Imagine with me that Jesus shows up in the flesh in your community. I live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA, and I’m writing this in April 2023. What would it be like if Jesus lived here? I’m not talking about his second coming. I’m talking about a fictional scenario. A thought project. Just as Jesus was born into Palestine in the first century Roman Empire about 2000 years ago, imagine what it would be like if Jesus would be born into your community.
To continue this thought project, let’s try to keep the details as similar to the real story of Jesus’ life as told in the Gospels. He was raised in anonymity, just a regular child in a tiny town, growing up to support his family in their family business. He had brothers and sisters, and he learned to be a craftsman just like his adopted father. At some point between his twelfth and thirtieth year, his father passed away. Being the oldest son, Jesus became the proprietor of the business, having the primary responsibility for making sure his mother is cared for. Perhaps, people reason, this is why he makes it to his 30th birthday without marrying.
Right around that time, in his 30th year, Jesus’ life takes a dramatic turn. He becomes a traveling preacher, making a big name for himself by supposedly doing miraculous healings. If he showed up in our era doing miracles, I have no doubt he would have followers. I suspect he would be well received by many people in Lancaster County. Miracles have a way of attracting supporters.
But would he have any detractors in our community? In this fictional scenario, let me tell you about Lancaster County as it is in our day, very religious. Lots of churches. Lots of people who say they believe in God and are part of those churches. How might those religious people feel about this upstart traveling preacher who supposedly does miracles?
If Jesus showed up in Lancaster County, would the religious people immediately believe in him? Would they go out to hear him preach? Would they change anything about their lives to make room to learn from him and follow his ways?
My guess is that most of us believe we would embrace Jesus, worship him, follow and support him, if he showed up in our communities. I mean, it’s Jesus! Of course we would celebrate him.
Or would we? Is it possible that Jesus might actually make us uncomfortable or upset? I ask this question because of what we’re going to study in the Gospel of John this coming week on the blog. Take a look at John 10:22-42 ahead of time. It’s one of those stories in which Jesus makes people really angry. Religious people. People who believe in God. People like us. They are the ones who have a very bad opinion about Jesus, and they get extremely upset. Why? What does Jesus do to make the religious people so mad?
Join us on the blog next week, and we’ll talk about it further. We’ll learn how this story about Jesus has important implications for Christians in our day and age. See you then!
Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash