Summary: Jesus was controversial - and if you are having a comfortable Christian life - are you really worshipping the Jesus of the New Testament?
Gentle Jesus meek and mild
You have to be kidding!!
Story: At the very start of his ministry in Florence, Savonarola the Italian political reformer (1452-1498) noticed an elderly woman who used to come and pray regularly before that statue of the Virgin Mary.
One day, Savonarola took an elderly priest aside , who had been serving in the cathedral for many years, and said,
"Look how devoted this woman is. She comes every day to offer prayers to the blessed Mother of Jesus. What a marvellous act of faith."
But the elderly priest replied,
"Do not be deceived by what you see. Many years ago when the sculptor needed a model to pose for this statue of the blessed Mother, he hired a beautiful young woman to sit for him. This devout worshiper you see here everyday is that young woman. She is worshiping who she used to be."
And in the same way, I think the Jesus we think we are worshipping in the 21st Century is not the true Jesus that we find in Holy Scripture.
My liberal colleagues focus on his love for mankind – forgetting that he called us to repent of our sins and follow him wholeheartedly.
We focus on the two Great Commandments –
i) to love God and
ii) to love our neighbour
and find that so comforting
- yet we forget that Jesus was very controversial in his day.
If many of us had lived in his time, we too might have joined the crowds in baying for his crucifixion.
Why because as hukan beings we too are married to preserving tradition rather than serving the living God.
Darrel Brock in the NIV Application Commentary on Luke summed modern thinking up about Jesus by saying this
“He came as the ultimate peacemaker, who sought peace at any cost. He never challenged anyone other than to call for love and tolerance. As a teacher of wisdom and a teller of parables, Jesus did not force people into hard choices; or if he did, it had nothing to do with his own person only with the need for Israel to reform ethically.”
But this is not the Jesus of Scripture
Scot McKnight said this about the modern view of Jesus – expressed in the Jesus Seminar:
“such a Jesus would never have been crucified, would never have drawn the fire he did, would never have commanded the following he did, and would never have created a movement that still shakes the world”
Jesus’ teachings were in their day revolutionary, because he exposed a corrupt society.
What is interesting is that he started with the Church of his day and not the Roman oppressors.
Jesus ministry was prophesied from his birth as being controversial
Before Jesus was even born, his mother Mary realised that
And you will recall on the day of His Dedication to God in the Temple that the old prophet Simeon held Jesus in his arms and said:
Lord, now lettest thou Thy servant depart in peace; according to Thy word
For mine eyes have seen: Thy salvation
Which Thou hast prepared:
before the face of all people
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles: and to be the glory of Thy people Israel
Then he had looked at Mary and said,
“This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:34-35)
Luke’s account of Jesus’ ministry begins in his hometown synagogue in Nazareth.
There Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah that day, and the congregation was so incensed by what he said that they drove him out of town and tried to throw him over a cliff. (Luke 4:16-30)
Hardly the “Gentle Jesus meek and mild” of Charles Wesley’s hymn.
As Jesus said in our morning lesson:
49"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!
So if you find church comfortable, perhaps it is becasue we are no longer worshipping the true Jesus.
For the true Jesus will stir us up out of complacency.
He gave his Church one Commission and that was to “make disciples”
He didn’t say bring people to believe in God
Rather make them disciples that follow him 24/7
When we get that far we will then realize that seeing people come to a saving faith far outweighs the discomfort of change.
When we become true disciples – we will pray more and more for the kingdom of God to come in this land – and less for our own comforts
I find that Jesus stirs me up about the time I give to prayer and Bible Study. I find Jesus stirs me up about my commitment as his disciple. He stirs me up in relationships.