One of the criticisms that the world has of the church is that these Christians do not seem to know their Jesus very well. To be fair, the world's idea of Him is fairly off, too, but the criticism is well-deserved. And it's because we are not particularly good at remembering.
Most of us have heard the stories of Jesus. We know the miracles, the healing of the sick, the casting out of demons, the restoration of the lame. We know how critically He spoke to the Pharisees and how tenderly to the sinners. We know the twelve men that He chose and traveled with, the betrayer with whom He broke bread. Yet, we have also been told that the very most important thing about Jesus was His death and resurrection.
This has been hammered into us from the very beginning. Jesus died on the Cross and was raised for our sins. For your sins. If you know nothing else about Jesus, know that He died for you. (You don't have to even know that He loves you enough to die for you, just that He did, in fact, die for you.)
Because of this kind of teaching, we develop this kind of laser-focus dominance on the Cross and the tomb. (Although, to be honest, for most of us, it's the Cross and not the tomb.) When asked, then, to 'remember' Jesus, to call something to mind about Him, it's this - a bloody Savior on a splintering Cross, crying out for our wounded souls.
Which is great. And important. But...and I'm going to say this even though it's not 'popular' doctrine...that's not all there is to Jesus.
The Cross isn't everything that Jesus is for us. Neither is the tomb. There is so much more to the story of Jesus, so much written into the Gospels that we just...throw out with the bathwater. It's just back-story, we think. It's just setting us up for what's really important - the Cross. The Bible only tells us these things about Jesus, we conclude, so that we understand how radical it was for Him to die on the Cross the way that He did. We believe that the entire story of Jesus leads us to this point.
So, naturally, every time we 'remember' Jesus and are asked to pick a scene from His life, this is the one we pick. We've been told it is the very most important thing.
No wonder the world isn't convinced that we know Him.
What I'm trying to say is that there is so much more to Jesus than just this moment. There is more that we ought to be remembering when we remember Him. In fact, not even every moment, every sacrament, that He Himself instituted was meant to draw us into His death. Rather, Jesus Himself, from the very beginning of His ministry, told us plainly that His aim was to draw us into His life.
And, well, how many times when you 'remember' Jesus do you remember first something He did while He was living and not while He was dying?
This is a problem. It's one we need to pay more attention to. To be continued....
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