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Sunday, 20 August 2017

10 Things You Really Don’t Know About Christ


In spring of 1872, noted photographer Eadweard Muybridge devised a method of fast-motion photography that allowed him to see a horse running in slow motion. In doing that, he effectively invented the motion picture industry. One hundred and fifty years later, Muybridge’s moving-picture efforts inspired a curious experiment for me: What happens, I wondered, if I linger among the images of Jesus in the gospel accounts? What unexpected lessons will I find if I risk viewing God in Slow Motion? I decided to find out.

Unexpected Lesson: Humility = Glory. Jesus, in his birth, thumbed his nose at all human expectations of greatness. In that first breath, He redefined what glory is and means. He constructed a brand-new equation that only makes sense if God is truly God: Humility = Glory. Christ chose humility underfoot – arriving as a helpless, reliably incontinent infant – as the most resplendent setting for the opening act of his grand redemptive work. In that moment, God’s reputation in human eyes meant nothing. His saving purpose was all that mattered, and the result has been greater glory than humanity could have ever imagined. 

Unexpected Lesson: God loves a mystery. If you don’t believe God loves a mystery, just read his book. In chapter one of Genesis you’ll find an eternal, self-existent, all-powerful being – Someone in need of absolutely nothing. And yet, He created. He spoke and everything that exists was formed, from the awe-inspiring, mammoth sun to the mitochondria that inhabit your very cells. Why would God do that? He had no need. He wasn’t looking for a hobby – and He certainly could foresee the heartache and sinfulness that would run rampant in his creation over time. So why create at all? It’s a mystery.

Unexpected Lesson: Sometimes, we don’t listen to His voice … thinking we do. How? Because the sick need a doctor, and – often really – we refuse to admit we’re sick. I hear Christ calling and I say to myself, He’s talking to someone else. After all, it’s the sick that need a doctor, and surely I’m not sick, am I? It’s a mistake of vision – and the reason we Christians are so often un-Christlike in the way we live, the way we love, and the way we represent our master to the culture in which He’s placed us.

Unexpected Lesson: Jesus is one scary dude. In case you didn’t notice it last time you read “Jesus Calms the Storm” in your Bible, you should know something the disciples obviously recognized: Jesus is (in the best sense possible) one scary dude. After Christ stilled the deadly storm, the Bible says of his disciples: “They were terrified…” That used to confuse me, but as more and more gray hair appears in my beard, I’m beginning to understand. It is both terrifying and exhilarating to serve our mighty God. How awesome is that?

Unexpected Lesson: Christ’s compassion is bigger than my vision. Our job is not to define God’s compassion in miracles or specific blessings. Our job is to trust fully in the complete working of his compassion – to trust Jesus with the keys to our lives even when his vision for us appears to be radically different from our expectations of Him. The Woman with an Issue of Blood desperately wanted healing. But she desperately needed: Restoration. Acceptance. Affection. Belonging. And Jesus refused to let her leave until her heart got all it needed – even though it scared her nearly to death.

Unexpected Lesson: Sometimes God Refuses a Miracle! Did you notice that in all the fuss of Matthew 11:1–6? John the Baptist’s disciples asked Jesus if He was indeed the hoped-for Messiah. Jesus responded with miraculous, incontrovertible evidence: Miracles abound, dripping freely from Christ almost like sweat on a workman’s brow! And yet there is no miracle for John. No miraculous prison break. No relief. Nothing…but faith. A literal reminder that hardship will invade our world, that miracles may or may not come. But in every circumstance Jesus will always be Christ. That truth is enough to create faith to withstand anything.

Unexpected Lesson: It is no sin to feel sad. When her brother died, Martha fell weeping at Jesus’ feet. She actually blamed Him for the death! Yet, Jesus never scolded her for this. Instead, He reached into her grief with a promise of comfort. Why didn’t Jesus rebuke her for lack of faith? Tell her to stop blubbering and start living? I’d guess it’s because God’s not threatened by honest emotion; because it was no sin for Martha to feel sad at the loss of her brother – even when that sadness was multiplied by a perception that God had let her down.

Unexpected Lesson: Greatness is the DNA of Service. Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. There have been great men and women throughout history. There have been great deeds as well. But only One was able to take the ultimate insult of his time (washing feet!) and turn it into an image of everlasting greatness. Only Jesus could do that – embody greatness of service – because only Jesus is truly great. As for you and me, then, we must learn: One is not great because he serves; one serves because He is great.

Unexpected Lesson: The Cross means we are not safe. The enemies of God are not happy about the freedom Christ created for you. Like wicked slave masters, they want to see you returned to helplessness under the influence of sin. Spiritual and physical forces alike will seek to treat you like they treated Jesus, to mock you, to condemn you, to discourage and abuse you. This is simply the way of life, especially for a Christian. But you must also know that, because of the love that Jesus displayed on cross, you will never be helpless in the face of hardship. Not ever again.

Unexpected Lesson: Joy waits in wounded hands. You might think that upon seeing a deity returned to life, the devoted would be trembling in awe, or hushed to silence, or scared out of their wits – any number of sober, serious responses. But the disciples were overjoyed. Seeing Jesus alive again was both a miracle of resurrection and a happy family reunion. And why shouldn’t it be? Great joy is the fruit of great love, and Jesus’ return from the dead delivered them both. Amen

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