JUNE 22, 2016
Are you ever surprised by Jesus? What about irritated by him? Do you find yourself sometimes thinking that a Messiah, well, simply ought to be different? If not, then you’re not reading the Gospels.
Jesus hardly ever goes where one expects him to go, hangs out with the people one expects him to hang out with, and says what one expects him to say. Frankly, Jesus isn’t as religious as we think he should be.
Jesus has been frustrating my life ever since I met him. Some reasons why from the story of the rich young man in Mark 10…
Proper messiahs don’t love unlovely people. Jesus did.
“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him…” (Mark 10:21). This young man was arrogant, self-absorbed and selfish. He sounds a lot like me. And Jesus loved him. What’s up with that?
We’re called to love unlovely people. You already know that. Now let me give you the kicker: There is a correlation between love and need…If you’re lovable, you can’t be loved.
I recently spoke at the Seminole County Jail here in Orlando for a banquet. The chaplains wanted me to see what they did and gave me the tour. It was such a loving bunch of guys. They hugged me. And we did church. I didn’t really expect that because they’re in jail. But they’re not loved despite the fact they’re in jail. They’re loved because of it.
Proper messiahs don’t redeem unworthy causes. Jesus did.
“But Jesus said to them again, ‘Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.’ And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God’” (Mark 10:24-27).
Even the disciples were shocked at what Jesus said. The question is, “Who can be saved?” The answer is, “Nobody here.”
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a preacher…a mother…a father…a businessman or businesswoman…a teacher…a religious person…a church member…and the list goes on and on.
Frankly, when we get there, I suspect we’ll be shocked by who is in heaven with us. We’ll also be shocked that we’re there.
Jesus redeems impossible situations and saves people who don’t deserve it. You already knew that, but let me add to it. Redemption doesn’t take place until you know that it is impossible for you to be redeemed. If you’re depending on anything other than Jesus, you simply aren’t going to make it.
Proper messiahs don’t answer inappropriate questions. Jesus did.
“Peter began to say to him, ‘See, we have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life’” (Mark 10:28-30).
We all ask inappropriate questions, don’t we? Or at least we think them.
Peter was asking Jesus, “Hey, what’s in it for me? I left my fishing business for you!”
Peter had already heard that we’re called to take up our cross and follow Jesus. He had already heard Jesus teach on blessed are the poor and those who mourn. He had already heard about John the Baptist saying that Jesus must increase and we must decrease. And now Peter heard Jesus say that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into the kingdom.
Peter knew his question was inappropriate…and he asked it anyway. Peter was so weak, childlike and loved that he didn’t have to watch his tongue around Jesus. You don’t get Jesus’ attention in your life until you’re childlike enough to risk the inappropriate.
Proper messiahs don’t reverse standard procedures. Jesus did.
“But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Mark 10:31).
You’re going to rule…because you’re sinful, weak and unqualified. “For all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27).
This is just surmise…but it could be true.
The rich young man doesn’t have a name here. Did you ever think that this man is none other than Joseph of Arimathea?
Mark makes this rather intriguing comment: “Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus” (Mark 15:43). Then he writes, “And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb” (Mark 15:46).
I would have liked to have been there. I would smile and maybe even laugh. Joseph would probably look at me like I was crazy and barely holding in his anger, ask, “What are you smiling about? Jesus is dead…and I loved him too late.”
I don’t think I would have told Joseph the rest of the story. It would have spoiled it for him. I think I would have said, “I know it’s hard…but God has a big surprise for you!”
When you’re unlovable…
When you’ve messed it up…
When you don’t have anything to offer…
When you’re down…
When you feel worthless…
God has a big surprise for you too. And you’re it.