|Jesus isn’t white. Nor is he American. Sorry to bust your bubble.|
Everyone has their own views of Jesus, and some of them are more well developed than others, but most of us are probably nowhere near what he really is. Reading the Gospels, you see Jesus as an enigma, a paradox wrapped in complete mystery. He’s gentle, yet powerful. Speaking truth, yet strangely talking in riddles and stories. A friend to children, and yet wildly disrespectful and confrontational to the religious leaders. A living example of pure holiness and virtue, and yet a friend to prostitutes, tax collectors, and other sinners. A wise and calm teacher, and yet he cleared the very temple he taught in with a homemade whip. An eternal savior, and yet a suffering servant. 100% God, and yet 100% man. When you add it all up, its a really strange equation with an even stranger solution: We are asked to trust him and yet we don’t understand him.
Everything Jesus did and taught was radical for its time, and it still is today. Turning the other cheek, if someone takes your coat then you also give him your tunic, bless those who persecute you, love those who hate you, the list goes on and on. Those are not things that you hear these days. Even if you think of his behavior in the culture of his day, it was highly controversial. The woman at the well was a woman with a loose reputation, and he was not only willing to speak with her, but to be seen with her in the middle of the day in the town gathering place. He called the religious elite a brood of vipers when the rest of the population treated them with fear and respect. If Jesus came back in this day and age, would we listen to him? Or would we just think of him as a cult leader, or the strange man on the street corner? Because that’s how the religious and political elite saw him: A strange man from a strange little town with strange and dangerous ideas.
Isaiah 53:2 says about the Messiah (Jesus) that there was “no beauty of majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” What exactly does this mean? I think it means what it says: Jesus wasn’t a handsome man. And when you think about it that makes a lot of sense. Because when you see the crowds he attracted, the people who followed him and hung on his every word, those who claimed to be willing to die for him, to the words he spoke and the miracles he performed, that people were willing to go to their deaths in testament to his truth, the fact that he was so plain and ordinary in our human eyes meant that everything about him was more miraculous and supernatural. He was, and is, God in the flesh, and there was no other way to explain it, and that’s what drew people to him. We all yearn to touch the divine and the infinite.
I’ve often tried to wrap my mind around the character of Jesus. Since Jesus is fully God, he exhibits all the characteristics of God. What did that look like here on earth? Was he funny? I bet he was hilarious. He obviously knew how to tell a good story. Was he loving? Of course. God IS love, so therefore every action he ever did was motivated by the purest love in this universe. Was he just? His sense of justice was more pure than any jury ever to exist. But, the strange thing about him being fully God, is that we don’t understand him. He willingly allowed himself to be tortured and put to death to save the very ones who curse his name every day. He allowed Judas to betray him, because he knew that in the end, the most loving thing that he could ever do was to let Judas make his own choice. He forgave Peter, even though he denied him and abandoned him in his darkest hour. He let his friend Lazarus die, just so he could raise him from the dead as a showing of his power and glory. He left the majesty of heaven to come to our dirty planet and die for us, just because he loves us and wants us to be near to him. Nothing Jesus did made a whole lot of sense, and yet the act of trusting him and giving him your life is the most sensible thing a person could ever do.
Jesus was a weird guy by our worldly standards, and I’m OK with that. Why? Because believing that a strange yet wonderful and infinite God was willing to come down here and die just to save a mess like me is something that is too beautiful to ignore. And if the world think’s I’m weird for believing, trusting, and loving a weird God who was willing to die to save me, then so be it. I’ll be weird right along with you Jesus.