In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day..."
After reading the Scriptures today, I simply cannot overstate how flabbergasted I was at how my interpretation of Jesus has swung from one side of the pendulum to the other. I remember the feisty, fiery Jesus growing up with hellfire and brimstone, and sulfur and weeping and gnashing of teeth and flames and such. As I studied further I came to know the human, tender, relevant and--shall I say--gracious side of Jesus that spoke to the postmodern in me. I gravitated to verses that highlighted his love and mercy and grace, and conveniently side-stepped the verses that were--as they say--the "hard sayings of Jesus".
I can't enumerate the times that I felt like I needed to tone down Jesus' language today as I read Luke. I was frankly uncomfortable with his "matter-of-factness" as he told it like it was. He spoke as one who didn't care about popularity one bit. He was on a mission, and he had a message, and it was non-negotiable. The thing that is hardest to reconcile is that in the same paragraphs he seemed to communicate almost contradictory thoughts, like a mixed message or something. On the one hand he would be the Father who welcomed the son who squandered all his inheritance on prostitutes and decadence, but then--after being asked if there would "only a few people going to be saved"--he would be the owner of the house who had a narrow door and called anyone who did not enter it evildoers. The margin of error didn't seem to have the slack I'd made up in my head. I was tossed about in the reading today trying to get my feet on the seabed but to no avail. The undertow of undulations in the text today threw me around like a jellyfish in the tempestuous surf.
The verse I mentioned in the beginning tugged at my heart. It spoke of Jesus' certitude in who he was and why he came. When threatened by fears of man and asked to leave and "go somewhere else", he retorted with the snark of a offended UFC fighter. "Tell that fox that I'm gonna..." I love it! Just when you thought the gentle Jesus would roll over and play possum, he shows us that he's got some pluck in 'em! He doesn't get pushed around or intimidated. He isn't going to let people tell him where to go and what to do. He's following higher orders and leaves when he's good and ready to leave. I wonder what Pilot did when the messengers took back this response to him? He must have keeled over that someone would have the audacity to call him a "fox"!
His reason for not backing down wasn't a "muscle-flexing" macho-man contest. He wasn't fighting for his masculinity, he was fighting for his ministry. The mission drove him. Did you hear him, "I will reach my goal." He has is eyes set on the objective that no objection could shake. He knew who he was and why he was here.
I love when he said, "In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day..." Sometimes it's a simple as this line of logic. I need that on somedays. Strike that, I need that today. It's been a day of slogging through sludge. I feel like it just poured down "leave-this-place-and-go-somewhere-else" today...not in the sense of leaving Impact or Lowell, but just backing off on "putting my heart out there" and "fighting for the vision God's has planted in my heart for our church". I encountered some attack and I felt the levies almost give a couple times. It was great to read the galvanizing response of Jesus to critics. "I must keep going...today, tomorrow, and the next day." Yeah, I must.
I hope today you feel stirred by this random collection of responses to the story of Jesus. I'm thoroughly enjoying how Jesus is messing with my "categories".