Dan's message yesterday was not as straightforward as it was meditative. And, for those of you who know me, that is my favorite kind. Unfortunately, I found my mind going down so many rabbit holes, well, Dan's text was lost on me. (Please forgive me!) But what I heard was this:
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Matt 16:15
Jesus is not such an easy character to wrap your head around. That moment when you think he is ok, he throws you a curve ball. Fence straddling is just not an option with him.
As a Baptist kid, well, I suppose Jesus was always a part of things, especially the end of prayer. This is the picture of my Baptist Jesus. I guess because he wanted in your heart.
But that Jesus is also on a lot of funeral cards. Not cool. What does he know about living if he is always knocking on dead people's doors?
Worse than that, tho, is the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Know why?
This is the Catholic Jesus that makes you want to go to confession. Look at those eyes. He saw what you did. And it hurts his heart. At least that is what I think. It was confusing as a Baptist Catholic kid. I was both and I was neither. Catholicism was just added on to my religious pedigree in junior high. Probably a trick of God's.
Or maybe humanity's.
I expected Jesus to love kids, to talk to the animals, to wait patiently on the doorstep, to put a guilt trip on me. And you know what? That Jesus wasn't very effective. At all.
He didn't save me from the things that left scars on my heart. He didn't deliver me from my pain. He didn't heal. He didn't rescue. He didn't even call for help. He stared wide eyed and silent from the pictures. He was an accomplice in my suffering. And I was done with whiny men who cry helplessly. If that was the best I could expect from Jesus, well, you could keep him.
God, the Father, however, is stealthy. He snuck up on me & claimed me. His strength and beauty subdued me. And then someone asked me about Jesus. I admit, I do not "get" the Trinity. It is a strange concept that twists my brain up. I was good with God the Father. Why mess it up? Again, Jesus has that way about him.
When I started to read my Bible, not just assume I knew or had heard everything before, a switch flipped. Jesus wasn't this pathetic doormat of a guy. He didn't need me. It wasn't about me. It was always about God. The whole of Scripture began to point to Jesus. My life journey was leading me to him, but I had to consider-Who did I really think he was?
I knew that I couldn't have a whimpy God. I would wither if I had a whimpy husband, and (sorry dear) God is an even more important person in my life. But, one of the things that I did hear during Dan's message is that all of our images of Jesus are individually inadequate. I have found that to be true. We cannot have the loving Jesus without the righteous Jesus. If we do, we just have buddy Jesus. And, I would rather be friendless than have to hang out with buddy Jesus.
Just when I get comfortable with letting this God-man Jesus back into my life, on his terms, he hits me with something new. I suppose I never read Revelation as a child, but this is the image of Jesus that has caught my breath for the last couple years:
He is a little on the scary side. Not tame at all. Not whimpy. This is one bad dude. Even his dearest friend was terrified. But, this is a Jesus who is able to kick some butt. Just hope the kind Jesus shows up when I am around.
Isn't that one of the glorious things about God, tho? He is not containable. He seems to reveal himself differently at different times and yet is the same. He is a paradox and the answer. He is the mystery and the unveiling. And, I am just fine with that. This is a Jesus who is able. This is the Jesus who did save me.