Meeting Jesus for the First Time

by Mary Hall

As I read Matthew a few weeks ago, I paused to think about this line, “And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.” (Mt 28:17).  I could not imagine how anyone of these 11 disciples could possibly have been through all they had been through that year and doubt that Jesus was the Son of God.  I realized the  people who lived during the time Jesus lived in the flesh were unique in history.  They were the only eye witnesses of a man whose life impacted all of mankind.

No one has ever read the personal eye-witness accounts of Jesus’ life without already knowing that Jesus was the Son of God.  The writers of the gospels make it clear from the beginning of their testamonies that this is so.  People only read these books because they have heard that Jesus is God.  We already know the punch line.  Only the people that lived in the day He lived in the flesh were clueless about who this man really was.  I  had never considered him in this context.  I always read these accounts knowing who he was.  In my mind’s eye, I see one of the many pictures of men with long hair and beard, long white robe and sandaled feet.  I already know where he came from and where he would go.

I wanted to see how some could doubt so I had to change my perspective of him.   Somewhere in the Bible it says that the Son of God would not be anything special.  He was one who would normally blend into the crowd.  He wasn’t known for being the life of the party.  He probably did not tell a lot of jokes and he never tried to impress anyone. You would know who he was but you wouldn’t really take much notice of him.  Everyone acknowledged that he was a good guy but he wasn’t anything special.  I  wanted to visualize a really plain Joe instead of the Jesus persona from the 1976 movie, JESUS OF NAZARETH so I decided to choose someone who  I don’t know personally but I see around.  Someone who blends in the crowd like a Walmart checker or the guy who installs dishwashers or delivers  packages.Someone who I recognize but don’t have a relationship with other than to talk about the weather.   Then I read the gospel of John with my new image in my head and I got the change in perspective I was looking for.

Jesus lived most of his life, it is presumed, in a small town called Nazareth.  He was probably a carpenter since his father was.    If you broke anything or needed a new something, you would go to his shop.  I imagine he had a pleasant attitude and he always focused on his costumers.  He could tell how you were feeling and he would say things to encourage you.  His words might stick with you for a while.  You would think he was very nice but maybe just a little too nice. Maybe people were a little uncomfortable around him because he would always want to talk about the right thing to do or think.  He didn’t get into gossip or course jesting.

When he was 30, he went to see the preacher everyone was talking about.  John was actually his cousin.  After Jesus was baptised by his cousin, he went into the desert for forty days.  Suddenly he was missing from the carpentry shop.  That would be a curious thing.  I would imagine in a small town that would be something people would talk about.  They would all come up with their own ideas about why he was away.

Suddenly, he comes back home after being gone for over a month.  He goes to the neighborhood synagogue on the Sabbath and stands up to read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  That was fine enough.  Everyone reads Isaiah from time to time.  But then he says, “Today, the Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”    Just imagine the Walmart checker saying that!  It is understandable that the people who heard it intended to stone him.  What presumption and arrogance! astonishing!  I could well imagine the town folk wanted to stone him.. You just don’t say things like that.

Then he started hanging around the wrong crowd.  He ate with thieves and whores.  Imagine a guy whose supposed to be a  ” good Christian” going to the bars with people who dress seductively with tattoos and piercings and drinking with them.  These days some in the church think they are doing just what He did but they are mistaken if they think they can dress sensually, watch violent, sensual movies and otherwise be of the world.  Jesus ate with sinners but He never sinned.  He always upheld the law.

This guy tore away the facade of hypocrites that wanted appear to follow the word of God.  They talked the talk but their minds were full of lust, pride and self-centeredness.    He went to the temple during a festival where everyone in Israel was present in Jerusalem and went in to smash up their money making adventures.  Imagine the UPS guy showing up at your church bookstore and breaking the Christ mugs and  the Jesus jewelry.  Jesus, many times confronted the Pharisees in public and called them out on their sin and hypocrisy.  What if the janitor would come in during a church service and stand up while everyone is in their love fest they call worship, with loud violent music and gyrating in provocative ways in very sexually suggestive clothing, and remind everyone that God is a holy god and He will not tolerate this Baal worship.  This Jesus was nuts.  He did not care whom He offended or where He did it.

He was a plain Joe.  He did not go around preaching about himself.  He did not consider that it was a thing to be attained to be like God.  His message was to repent of your sin and follow God.  He has no concern about who is running the government (render to Ceasar that which is Ceasar’s)  Nor is he concerned about how we make money (You can not serve God and mammon).  The greatest commandment, He told us, is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.”  And the second is like it, “Love your neighbor as yourself”  These can be practiced whether you have a college degree or have not graduated high school.  You can be poor or rich.  You can live in a democracy or communism.

Many of us need to change our paradigm.  If we continue to fashion Jesus in our own image, we will miss Him at His second coming just as the pharasees did when He first came.  Jesus will come as a plain Joe from all outward appearances.  He will be the receptionist at the dentists, or the guy who shelves books at the library, with fire in his belly and power in his words.

You can read Mary’s blog by clicking here: More Than Meets the Eye

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