Radical, Revolutionary, Rebel, Jesus. Not words you’d think of as going together and yet part of the reason Jesus came was to overturn a broken world system that steals and kills and destroys. Jesus never sinned, never did anything wrong and yet many people wanted Him dead and strangely it wasn’t so much the people that church folks might call “sinners” that screamed for his death. It was the religious community that led the cry. This video explores that concept in greater detail.
Radical. Revolutionary. Rebel. They’re words that create an image in our minds aren’t they? But now let me say another word, Jesus. Most people can’t imagine using those words in the same sentence and yet to imagine Him as anything else is to miss a big part of who He is. We have done a great disservice to the world in the way we portray him. The Jesus we’ve painted seems wimpy up until he dies on the cross for our sins which we see as an act of humble surrender and it is to a point but it’s something much greater as well.
We evangelicals have spent so much time talking about the cross and the resurrection and they are amazingly important things, but how often do we talk about what made people want to kill Him? See Jesus didn’t just go with the status quo. He turned over the tables in the temple. He love the ones most people called unloveable and he called society’s elite on their garbage. His message of love was so radical that most of the religious leaders entrusted with preparing the way for his coming didn’t even recognize Him. As a matter of fact they were the ones screaming loudest for His death. The people wanted Him dead because His message made them look too deep into their own hearts.
Be careful how you think. Most of the time when we see Jesus really get in someone’s face in the scriptures it’s someone religious. Someone whose pride makes them feel like they’re better than everyone else.
One of the best stories of this is found in Matthew chapter 9. Jesus has just called Matthew the tax collector to be one of His disciples. Now if Jesus had wanted to be popular with the religious establishment or cared about public opinion at all this is a move He would not have made. Tax collectors were hated by pretty much everyone, they were seen as turncoats and con men because they would rip the people off. Matthew has to see this as redemption and a fresh start and he’s so excited that he throws a party so all his friends can meet Jesus. The problem is when you’re an outcast like Matthew the only people who will hang out with you are other outcasts. Well it’s not a problem for Jesus and He goes to the party. These are the people He came to save. But about the time Jesus is knee deep in meeting these people where they are, the religious folks show up and start to judge. They basically ask Jesus‘ disciples why does your teacher eat and spend time with the scum of the earth. The implication of their question is really clear. If this guy was worth anything he’d leave these people and hang with respectable people, you know people like us. Well Jesus hears them and here’s what He said. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ He’s not telling them they are good. He’s telling them that their religious act are not going to save them and that if they had the Father’s heart they would be helping him not mocking Him.
Jesus didn’t come so we would be more religious. Jesus’ call was to radical love and humility and service, to Loving God first and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. Following Him is not always safe and it’s not always popular. It’s not just the path to heaven when you die, but also a call to an amazing adventure to this life. Jesus is not just the silent lamb led to the slaughter. He’s the lion of the tribe of Judah and as CS Lewis wrote, “He’s not a tame lion but He is good.” What do you want to be? I want to be a radical just like Jesus. His sacrifice may have been an act of submission to the Father, but never forget it was the victory blow in the ultimate battle, the battle where evil did it’s worst and radical love still won.