The Son of Man will suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed…. The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of evil men and killed…. The Son of Man will be handed over and betrayed….
This is the teaching of Jesus, and it is a hard teaching for sure!
It is the itinerary of God, outlining his goals for his own mission, ministry, and most specific purpose.
It is also absolutely unacceptable! Just ask St. Peter.
There is no way Jesus means what he says here! He CAN”T mean it!!! Surely not. Not this.
Some of my critics think there is a lack of joy – of the fruit of the Spirit in general – in my blogging. Some critics think all the confrontation, controversy, and arguing is somehow unfit for service to Jesus. Most of my critics just avoid me and the blog as much as possible. They close their ears and turn away.
If you look closely at this blog you will find that the vast majority of the concerns expressed here are boiled down to one point: OPEN THE DOOR. That is not really complicated.
I address a number of smokescreens the church of Lubbock throws up to hide this simple concern behind, and that is where most of the complexity is on this blog. But if the church were to simply open the door, bring in the poor, and provide shelter on cold winter nights, my blog would be out of business. I would hope – HOPE – that we could celebrate Jesus among us once we are all sheltered inside with a party (like the Bible talks about in so many places), but I wasn’t confronting, arguing, and all that back when we simply took the poor in for the night (even without a party). No. All this confrontation stuff happened when church leadership very purposely kicked out the poor and kicked me out too for insisting this decision was wrong.
I hope my critics can see that IF we opened that door (and especially if we threw the party for Jesus as well), that it would make my joy complete! I would not be endlessly arguing and confronting. I wasn’t doing that back before my church purposely changed policies that began excluding the poor.
Yes, there are other issues. SOME of them are even important, but most are not. I really don’t care if Deacon Wilson’s wife wants the blue drapes but Bishop Johnson’s wife wants the burgundy instead. I only care that they get along as they work it out. Point being, I don’t have a dog in every fight that comes along. But I have personally joined “the least of these” in the cold of night camping just outside that locked church-house door, and I have witnessed two of them die from our lack of care – death by freezing! How cruel is that? So, the color of the drapes might well upset a lot of folks, but that is not the kind of thing I am riled up about.
BUT, look again at the quotes from Jesus at the top of this post.
You see I have this mistaken idea that sensible, Jesus-loving, Christian leaders can, and will be, persuaded by respectful debate. But it turns out, I am wrong about that. (Yes, I went to meetings and traded emails, text massages, and phone calls with these leaders for a LONG time before it came to all this). And when they weren’t moved by the love of Christ and simple reasoning, I confronted them with prophetic acts. And they still make NO compromise (which is good, because there is no room for that here, really) and they do not repent. But I keep operating like maybe, maybe eventually the right words at the right time will finally connect and make a positive change.
But, look again at the quotes from Jesus at the top of this post.
Jesus has no such expectations for his prophetic mission.
The fact is… somebody has to die.
You don’t want to hear that; I don’t want to hear that. But Jesus is saying that.
Where is the joy in it? Where is the fruit of the Spirit in it? But isn’t it quite confrontational – prophetic???
The writer of the New Testament book we call Hebrews says that Jesus died for the joy SET BEFORE HIM. The JOY is set before him, you see. Look at that carefully. The man of sorrow has the joy set before him.
What joy is worth that?
I want to know.
Well, somebody has to die for us to get there.
I am sorry to say that two people freezing to death on the streets of Lubbock in the last three years isn’t enough dying. But the son of man will be handed over to evil men. And it isn’t the good arguing that is going to persuade them. For that matter, there is no evidence I am privy to that Caiaphas, Pilate, Herod, or any of their fellow leadership staff members ever were persuaded. I think their nonsense just got swallowed up by the glory of Jesus and we all pretty much forgot them.
Meanwhile, it was God’s will and Jesus’ singular mission to die and turn that inside out for any who would follow him.
Did that mean Jesus stopped confrontations, controversies, and arguments? Far from it. Those things increased all the more until he died. Those things played a role, a vital role. But they were never his goal or his point either. And they never persuaded the “religious leaders of his day” (as we are apt to call them), nor will they persuade the religious leaders of our day.
But maybe, maybe we will take up a cross and follow.
in a word: CRUCIFORM.