Tuesday, July 29, 2014

People Person

Since we're on the subject, can we talk about the revolutionary nature of Jesus for a minute? 

People were expecting a Messiah, just not exactly this Messiah. Even Peter, as I mentioned a few months ago, was looking for something completely different. They were looking for a revolutionary. A guy who could come in and take charge. A leader who would change the landscape. A warrior who would conquer the enemy. He must be a political Messiah, they reasoned; a political Messiah must do these things. A political Messiah must conquer.

But I think they were also expecting a political Messiah for another reason - they were thinking communally. In the Old Testament, the entire idea of God was almost always communal. God did things for the good of His people. He worked through His people. He chose, and favored, His people. Israel was a community of God more than David was ever a "man of God." The people saw Him as God's chosen leader, but he was chosen only for the sake of the people. Thus, God was always working for His people. 

When they started looking for the promised Messiah, of course their natural inclination was that this must be a man for the people. This was a guy who was coming for the nation of Israel. They were looking for the Lamb that was coming for the sake of the people.

And if you want a guy whose entire thought is the people as a whole, he must be a politician. Politicians are always thinking about society as a whole. Politicians are working for the system. They are creating rules and regulations and programs and policies to make the culture work, not necessarily for the sake of any one man. They are leaders not of persons, but of people. They create the system in which you can work, in which you know the rules and can aspire to your heart's desire. They create the culture in which you can succeed and be the man you want to be.

That's what Israel was looking for when they started looking for the Messiah. They wanted a Christ who would create the system in which they were free to work, who would overthrow the broken political rule of the day and institute a new society so that they could be the men they wanted to be. To each man his own in a perfected, holy system.

Jesus, as we know, was not that Messiah. He was not that Christ, and had He come in that fashion, He could not have been a Christ at all. 

The revolutionary nature of Jesus is not that He came for the people, but that He came for the person. He came for the individual. He set about creating a new culture not in the camp, but in the condition of the human heart. So that in your own sacred space, you can be the man you want to be. Regardless of the world you live in.

Jesus spent all His time speaking to the man, and not necessarily to the men. He didn't create a way for His people to live; He cleared the way for each person to live, speaking directly to the hearts of those who came to Him. We see Him making powerful, poignant statements without broadening them to the wider context. To an adulterous woman, He says, "Go, and sin no more" without making a sermon out of it. Without telling the rest of the people not to sin. To a bleeding woman, He declares, "Your faith has made you well," then continues on His way without instituting a new law of faith. We see it in the publican, to whom He says, "Today, I will eat at your house." He doesn't say it, but this is the ministry of Jesus - that it doesn't matter who you are; if you open your house, your heart, to Him, He will come into your presence and eat with you.

The ministry of Jesus was never for the people. It was always person-to-person. He wasn't making some powerful statement; He was making a sacred space.

Oddly enough, He was everything they were looking for - a revolutionary. A guy who came in and took charge. A leader who changed the landscape. A warrior who conquered the enemy. A Messiah who created the system in which they could work, who formed the culture in which each man could be who he wanted to be. 

They just always expected He would do this work for them and not in them. But such is Jesus. 

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