The wife of a rural pastor would seem to have little reason for smiling. She and her husband lost their oldest son when he was nine. They are poor and have no visible hope of ever moving out of poverty. The needs of their church and community demand their time, their energy, their resources.
Yet when she opened the door to her home, ushering in visitors, she laughed warmly, smiled authentically. She felt glad to receive guests. She quickly prepared a meal and set it before them, and asked nothing in return. When told "thank you," she smiled again, revealing a broken front tooth, another mark of a hard life.
Teacher. Rabbi. Messiah. King. Savior. Redeemer. Friend. Christ. Servant. Son. Prophet. Man. God. Rebel. Revolutionary. Priest. Intercessor.
The roles of Jesus. All true.
But what if I don't see them all? What if I believe in him, but only one part of him? Or in only three parts of him? What if I love Jesus the man? Will he accept that love? What if I follow Jesus the rabbi? Does that following meet his command to "Learn of me"? What if I believe in the teacher? Is that faith sufficient?
People try to escape Jesus for as long as they can. We can ignore him, and we do. We develop systems financially, socially, physically and especially pseudo-spiritually to get away from needing or heeding him. Loving us, he’s jealous; but loving us, he doesn’t force us to reciprocate.
A few things to keep in mind: 1) we don’t understand what Jesus is doing, 2) but we think we do; 3) he knows what he’s doing, and 4) he’ll accomplish his father’s purposes despite us.
Let’s start with history. In the desert, the Hebrews couldn’t see the promised land, but God did. He got them there, even though they thought he’d lost his mind.
It looks so obvious in retrospect. He sent us pictures all along. The pictures showed us what he looked like. That way we might recognize him when we met him.
He said, “Let there be light.” Jesus said, “I am the light.”
I heard this in a class once. Researchers showed a battery of images to individuals who had one eye covered. The covering of a certain eye interacts with the memory. If the individual knew a word for an object flashed before his eyes, he could remember it. If he didn’t have a word for the object, he didn’t remember it.