Monday, November 12, 2018

Who is This Jesus?

Who is this Jesus? It's a fascinating question to ask any disciple, for the answers that you will get will all be slightly different based on our own human experience. In fact, if you think you know quite a bit about Jesus, the next question to ask yourself might be what you don't know about Him, what you can't see as clearly because it runs counter to your own spirit. 

Right off the bat, you probably raise an objection. No! What I know about Jesus is based on who He is, not on who I am. What I know about Him comes straight from the Scriptures, so it must be wholly and objectively true! I can say who Jesus is because the Bible tells me who He is. 

And yet...

Let's just start with a simple question, then. Was Jesus an introvert or an extrovert? 

This is an interesting question to ask in a group because you will immediately find that persons fall into one of two camps (clearly, since there are two possible answers). Extroverts will note the tremendous amount of time that Jesus spent with others, followed by the crowds, surrounded by twelve men (at least), healing and teaching and preaching and feeding, and they will say that clearly, Jesus was an extrovert. Just look at the way that He loved the people and spent all of His time with them! 

Inevitably, however, if you give it enough time (really, give it enough time because introverts tend to be slow to speak in a group), someone will pipe up and say, "But wait a minute." It will be an introvert, and he will present a case for Jesus being just the same as him - introverted. After all, look at how often Jesus tried to get away from the people. Look at all the time He spent on the mountain, by Himself, praying to the Lord. Look at how many times He tried to retreat, sent His disciples on ahead of Him, sat by the side of the road to take rest. Jesus was clearly an introvert, he concludes. 

How can you miss that?

The interesting thing is that the same persons who will argue passionately for Jesus being either introverted or extroverted have often missed much of the other argument in their own reading of the Scriptures. That is, the introvert is prone to believe that the majority of Jesus's time was spent retreating, and the extrovert is likely to have sensed that most of His time was with the people. 

The introvert will have noticed that He spent at least some of His time with the crowds, primarily because it creates for the introverted Jesus a need to get away, something that is not lost on someone who recharges best in his or her own solitude. The extrovert, however, will likely not have noticed how often Jesus retreats to pray. He doesn't need to. An extrovert is recharged by being with people, so having crowds around Him all the time is sufficient for the extroverted Jesus to maintain His energy and spirit. 

It's a fascinating experiment, really, but it points to this truth: when it comes to reading about God in the flesh, most of us are prone to reading more intently and more intensely those things about Him that connect most deeply with our own flesh. That is, we are predisposed, it seems, to see ourselves in Jesus. 

That's not to say that this is a good thing or a bad thing, in and of itself. We can, of course, take it too far and believe that Jesus is exactly like us in every possible way and thus limit His humanity to only our experience of it. But for most of us, it's not so devastating. The point of bringing this to light is to say that most of us have a blind spot when it comes to Jesus. There are things about Him we just don't see as clearly as others.

And we ought to keep that in mind. 

We ought to keep that in mind because this is where the mystery lies. This is the key to the whole thing. There are things about Jesus, and things about God, that are beyond our ability to simply comprehend them. It's why we have to keep reading, have to keep praying, have to keep digging into what we know, in order to find what we do not see right away. We have to keep our minds open and read with new eyes as often as we can, figuring out what it is that we're likely to miss and then being deliberate about not missing it. 

There's probably more to Jesus than you ever knew. Does that surprise you? Does it bother you? Maybe it doesn't. Maybe the Jesus you have, the Jesus you know, the Jesus you love is enough for you. The truth is that in general, He is. For most of us. 

But what if He was more? 

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