Sorry for the bit of a lag this week. As you are aware, this week is spring break for our school district, and I managed to get away for a few days. Now we are back and ready to roll.
We are fully immersed in our Sacrilege study through the life of Jesus. On the front end, we know that Jesus came to us in a sacrilegious manner, through an unwed teenage virgin…that’s right a virgin. The scandal that accompanied her pregnancy was not what was expected for the Messiah’s entrance into the world.
As if that weren’t enough, Jesus begins his ministry in a very unorthodox way as well. A good, God-fearing Jew of that day, would have expected something big…a gala…some pomp & circumstance. They expected a red carpet, but got a “scruffy bohemian prophet” named John the Baptist. Hardly, the triumphant entry for which they were waiting.
There are a few things that stood out to me as I worked through Chapter 23 in The Story last week. I’ll just bullet them for you, and let you either add some or discard, but think about them.
- Jesus was baptized. This is a very interesting move for the Savior of the World. In religious circles of our day, baptism means different things. For some tribes, baptism is more than a symbol and in some miraculous way, the baptism actually washes away sin, literally. For other tribes, baptism is a symbolic ritual and identification for a life changed by the grace of God, accepting his death, burial and resurrection as the only means to real life, both now and forever. Other tribes fall somewhere in between. It seems a bit sacrilegious to me that the Messiah would feel the need to identify with us in this manner – he knew no sin, but was baptized anyway.
- Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. Jesus prepares himself for ministry by spending 40 days/nights out alone in the wilderness. With no food or drink, he is tempted to succumb to three very religious things. First, he is tempted with power (turn the stones to bread). Second, he is tempted with prosperity (throw yourself down and God will protect you). Third, he is tempted with fame (kingdoms of the world and their splendor). Any one of the three have been the downfall of many a pastor, as well as those who are seeking to live a life following Jesus’ path. The sacrilegious path of Jesus was not paved with power, prosperity or fame (the way we think of it).
- Jesus picks out his apprentices. If you are a religious leader, developing a religious team, you go out and find the best of the best to help you get to where you are going. You’d go to the synagogue’s and recruit some of the up-and-coming rabbis. Sacrilegiously, Jesus finds his most unlikely apprentices in the most unlikely places.
- Jesus turns water into wine. That’s right…wine.
- Jesus values women. It’s clear that the religious elite of his day did not value women. He steps out of that box and speaks directly with value.
- Jesus placed ultimate priority on our heart worship. Religion places too high of a value on the “where of worship.” That’s right, religion pits one tribe against another and seeks to prove why their tribe is right. Jesus cut against this trend and removed labels like male/female, Jew/Gentile, slave/free, man/woman. The “who” trumps the “where.”
- Jesus was more concerned for the irreligious than with the religious. “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”