How often have we tried to define Jesus? It is simply impossible, because once we feel like we have Him pinned, He surprises us with aspects of His nature we previously overlooked.
What blows me away the most, daily, is His great love, both through His life as shown in the gospels as well as His daily presence in my own life.
His love, though, inexhaustible, gets fair treatment — many other aspects of Jesus get overlooked, and frankly confuse a lot of people. His behavior doesn’t match up to our preconceived definition of what God should be like. Check it out:
1) He deserves greatness, yet displays lowliness
As discussed in a previous blog, we have it backwards. While Jesus, claiming to be the Son of God, should’ve soaked up the status, He chose to put himself in humble circumstances. A donkey plodding into Jerusalem doesn’t really match up to a king’s big entrance; it almost looks like a joke. But Jesus decided to put Himself in a position to be relatable to common man, so they might find Him in reach for salvation.
2) He demonstrates human emotion — a lot of it
We picture Jesus as a static, opaque pacifist with the same expression on His face all the time. In fact, that’s exactly how artists have depicted Him:
Jesus expresses anger, deep grief, and other extreme emotions in Scripture. In fact, He’s angry more frequently than you might think — take a look at this link; the site is a little funky, but they have a nice list here. People who believe Jesus is one-dimensional have a poor familiarity with what the Bible says about Him. The man feels like no other, and even the most emotionally flighty person can relate to that.
3) He defies authorities
In these two chapters, Jesus is confronted by the local governing representatives several times, all attempting to thwart Him or trip Him up intellectually. They clearly underestimate who Jesus actually is, which clearly shocks them multiple times, but what might be more surprising is His willingness to make them look foolish at their own game. He goes on to really throw down in the subsequent chapter, insulting the religious leaders wholly in what’s known as the “seven whoas.” Excuse me: “woes.”
Notice, however, that He is NOT the instigator. He is never in attack mode; not until the religious leaders have exhausted their arguments does Jesus begin to construct His own rebuttal.
4) He is culturally familiar
I believe churches today have gone over the top with being “relevant”, blowing up their services with gimmicks and comforts and often removing the focus from Jesus altogether, whether or not they even realize it. In fact, we have created an entire church subculture, still completely irrelevant from everyday life.
One of the keys to Jesus’ effectiveness (apart from His divine knowledge and capabilities) has to do with His penchant to recognize cultural differences. Jesus was born a carpenter’s son, yet He seems familiar with numerous Jewish traditions and sects in His society. He is not ignorant, nor does He make broad assumptions about people. In the series of confrontations in ch. 22, He addresses each group according to their cultural backdrop.
Yet, in all this mayhem He experiences on His way to the cross, Jesus keeps His composure and maintains the mission. This is the aspect of Jesus that floors me the most; that, despite His experiences, His foreknowledge of what was to come, and the burden of sin He would take on (even my own), He kept it up. He finished with love. And this, my friend, should confound you the most: that the love of Jesus never, ever relents.