the Jesus i wanted.
i started off the new year in the book of matthew, and that’s where i’ve continued to read in my devotions. i’m reading about Jesus, and as you all know, no other person that ever walked the face of this earth compares to Him.
i think i had Him figured all wrong though, to a point. see, i always pictured Jesus as merciful and gracious, but having a secret agenda. i always thought of Him as loving and kind, but expecting something in return. i always believed him to be wonderful and perfect, but demanding and legalistic. and, in my mind, he was allowed to be all of those things if He so chose to be, because He is, after all, God.
but i was wrong about Him. not that that will come as a surprise to you.
remember that note i wrote a few months back titled “i don’t want my Jesus.” …? in that note i said the following:
“i don’t want my Jesus to be someone who spends all His time with the publicans and pharisees. i want my Jesus to be someone who’s willing to get down in the dirt to show a sinner how much He loves them. i want Him to be the one who steadies the prostitute as she rises to her feet just after washing His feet with her tears and hair. i want Him to be the man dying on the cross while still having enough compassion to forgive someone who’s done Him wrong.”
i didn’t know then that the Jesus i wanted was actually who Jesus really is. or maybe i did know it, but i wouldn’t allow myself to see it.
in my devotions i’ve been reading about all the miracles He performed. actually, the Bible only mentions a few of them specifically. but then i’ll read a blanket statement like “they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick” (Matt. 8:16), and i have to wonder: how many is “many”…? how many is “all”…? because if i heard that someone was in town that could heal people of whatever ailed them, i’d be breaking people out of nursing homes and kidnapping hospital patients, and making house calls to invalids to let them know there was hope for them.
i can’t imagine that “many” and “all” are other words for… say… like 15 or 20 people. i picture hundreds — if not thousands — of people lining up along the side of the road hoping Jesus will heal them and make them whole again.
and then there was the aspect of how Jesus dealt with the haughty and high-minded in the community. he was kind! the only time he ever used harsh words were when He dealt with the “religious rulers” and pharisees. you know, those people who were supposed to be good examples of what Christians should be, but instead they were failing. epicly. (i don’t think “epicly” is a real word…)
i’ve watched preachers and “mature christians” use harsh and crude language when talking to lost people, then justify it with “well, Jesus talked this way sinners, so we can to.”
news flash: Jesus did lots of things. that doesn’t mean you can do them too.
Jesus healed the sick. Jesus was fully God while fully man. Jesus forgave sins. Jesus brought people back to life. Jesus brought unbreakable hope to the hopeless. Jesus became the Lamb that was slain. Jesus was perfect.
so while Jesus did speak harshly at times to the pharisees, He never spoke harshly to those who were lost. how do you win someone over by treating them like dirt and speaking to them like they’re beneath you.
remember — speak the truth with love.
love is key. grace is pertinent. mercy is necessary. but love… love is what conquered sin in the first place. who are we to think it won’t still work today?