Saturday, March 14, 2015

Jesus: What You Need Him To Be

Jesus: Savior, Brother, Redeemer, Friend…. Angry toward those who set themselves against God, yet gentle toward the broken. Steadfast as a Rock, loving as a Shepherd, powerful as a King, and humble as a Child. All of these, and more, embody the complexity and beauty of our Messiah.

Over and over in the Gospels Christ put who He is on display for His disciples to see. They started out seeing Him as their society did, wanting Him to be a Conquering King. He was someone who would give them what they wanted: freedom from the Romans and glory at His right hand during His reign. It wasn’t until later, when they felt abandoned by Him, that they began to understand.

He hadn't come to free them from the Romans. He came to free them from their sins. His kingdom wasn’t an earthly one where they would be showered with power and wealth, but a spiritual one whose rewards wouldn’t be seen in this life.

But did He openly contradict their misconceptions, beating them brutally with the truth? No. He quietly and lovingly taught them, knowing they wouldn’t understand until later. He knew they would act out of fear when He was dragged off and murdered, their dreams shattered. But until they did understand, they needed Him to be their Teacher, their Brother. They needed to see Him struggle and be Human.

Some needed Him to be Physician, some Rabbi. With some He was the harsh Headmaster, with others the thought-provoking Riddle Maker and Proverb Speaker. He was to each what they needed at the time. But He was always Himself. He was God Incarnate.

Jesus’ compassion was evident in the way He responded to those He came in contact with. Even as each person was different, so were the ways He interacted with them. One of the most obvious examples of this (in my opinion) is Mark 5.

We have three new human characters that arrive on the scene here: The man possessed with Legion, the woman with the 12 year flow of blood, and the man whose daughter “fell asleep”.

With the first we have a man who has been tortured physically, mentally, and spiritually by a “Legion” of demons. (A Roman legion had 6,826 men. If the name is supposed to be an exact number… that was one tormented man!)After Jesus cast them out, the man wanted to come with Him. I personally probably would have had pity on him and said, “Sure! Come along.” But it’s interesting that this is one person He wouldn’t let follow Him. Instead, He said, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” (Verse 19.) You see, this man spent the last who-knows-how-long being destroyed by these demons. His body was in tatters, his old life gone. There was nothing for him- no goals, no mission. He was empty. But Jesus looked Him in the eyes and filled him up. He gave him a life mission. If the man would have followed Jesus, how long would he have been able to cling to Jesus for support? There was only a short time left before His death. Jesus would not allow the man to become an occupational victim. And that was the truly loving thing to do.

On to the second character- the woman with the flow of blood. This poor woman had been bleeding for twelve years. She’d tried every doctor, every treatment, endured humiliations at their hands and much pain. By the time Jesus came along she was desperate. Assuming that she developed this condition fairly early in life, she could have been in her twenties or thirties and unmarried. Bleeding constantly would have excluded her from religious gatherings. Spending so long with this condition had probably made her eager to go unnoticed by most people. She probably could easily blend in with the crowd. So that’s what she did and somehow got close enough to just touch the edge of Jesus’ clothes. Instantly she was healed and instantly Jesus knew what had happened. Being God, I bet He knew exactly who had touched Him, but He decided to give her the choice to come forward. And she did, trembling, and admitted to everything. I can imagine Him smiling down at her as He said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.” (Verse 34.) Notice that He didn’t command her to tell everyone what happened and glorify God publicly. He left that decision up to her. But what He had done went way beyond physical healing. He gave her back public worship services and fellowship. He gave her the possibility of marriage. He gave her a future. For the first time in twelve years she felt beautiful and loved.

And lastly we have Jairus. His daughter, his little angel, his pride and joy, was dying. Even though he knew that he could be missing her last moments on this earth, he sought out her last hope- Jesus. Unfortunately, she died while he was on his way back with Jesus, bringing an apparent end to his quest. But Jesus simply told him, “Do not fear, only believe.” (Verse 36.) Then He allowed only three of His disciples to go the rest of the way with them. It is at that moment that Jesus put a plan into action. When they arrived and heard the professional, paid wailers making a racket He dismissed their “grief” by telling them that she is only sleeping (which was vastly amusing apparently). Then he went in with only the three disciples and the child’s parents, took her hand, and told her to wake up. And she did! So was she really not dead after all? No, I don’t think so. I bet she was very much dead. But because this family didn’t need any more excitement around them than they already had (I’m guessing), and He definitely didn’t need it known yet that He could raise the dead, He had lovingly given them something they could tell others- that she was merely sleeping. And, technically, she was since even in other passages of Scripture death is known as “sleep”.

Three people, three different responses, all made out of love and compassion for the receivers of His Gifts. He was who they needed Him to be. And He can be for you, too.

Maybe you’re lonely and in need of companionship.

He’ll be your Companion.

Maybe you are plagued by sin.

He’ll be your Savior and Forgiver.

Maybe you are feeling broken by this world.

He’ll be your Healer.

So if you are experiencing difficulty in your life today, don’t assume that Jesus is so lofty that He can’t respond to you how and when you need Him to. Instead, seek Him out. Cast yourself at His feet and cry out for love, healing, and understanding. He’s already waiting for you.

Think about it.

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