Jesus Words 28 – God’s upside down economy

The problem with me is that I take Jesus for granted. I think I have somehow pigeon-holed Him and figured Him out. Instinctively, I make Him look, sound and believe like me. Surely Jesus would go to my church. I spend most of my time studying theology, but I miss the Man, Jesus. I miss His foibles, His mystery, His idiosyncrasies, His “otherness.”
When I look at Jesus, I see a Man who goes out of His way to perform miracles in secret only to turn around and heal the sick in front of the religious elite on the Sabbath, who flees from crowds who seek to make Him King and yet willingly walks into the arms of those who seek to kill Him, who makes God’s law MORE difficult to keep and then provides a way to keep it, who condemns adultery and exploiting the poor, yet rich men and adulterous women love His presence. I can’t figure Him out.
Then there are the uncomfortable parts of the Gospels I don’t like because I don’t understand them. Jesus’ miracles were blocked by people’s lack of faithHe doesn’t know the day or the hour of the Second Coming, He rarely makes claims about His DEITY to His disciples and yet openly admits it to a Samaritan woman and a Roman Prefect. He gets angry, He is passionate and easily moved to tears, He constantly seeks alone-time and yet He is often very lonely, He is “very God of very God” and yet asks God to change His mind if possible.
Another problem I have while reading the Gospels is that I know the FULL story while those in the story do not. I miss the wonder of the miracles, the joy and expectation of Jesus being the Messiah who would crush the Roman army and reinstate Israel, the anguish, terror, and gut-wrenching despair at His crucifixion. I know on Good Friday that He will rise on Easter Sunday. The disciples did not. I miss the emotions and lessons in the waiting, the unknown.
My goal in this series is to address the mystery of this Man. I want to feel the surprise, wonder, fear, expectation, impatience, worry, anxiety and doubt of His followers. Because I feel these emotions most days, and if I can read the Gospels and feel impatient, frustrated or sympathetic toward the disciples’ fear, anxiety, worry and doubt, then there is hope for me and you! There is something they don’t know that if they knew, they would not be so worried, fearful, or anxious. Join me as I study the God Man Jesus.

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But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. 

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.

This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
    my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
   and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel or cry aloud,
    nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;
    and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

Matthew 12: 14-15; Mark 3:7-12; Matthew 12:17-21

The villagers, poor, needy, weak, diseased, demon-possessed and “sinners” come from miles and miles to see, hear and be healed by Jesus. Idumea is over 100 miles from the Sea of Galilee. People were WALKING over 100 miles to see Jesus, and not just any people. The blind were coming to Him, and if they were lucky, they had guides. The lame were limping and crawling to Him, and if they were lucky, they were being carried or put on carts. The sick and dying were traveling for scores of miles. It must have looked like a procession of the dead and dying.

And when they finally arrive at the place where Jesus is, they converge upon Him. Just imagine (and some of you don’t have to) that you have HIV, cancer, polio, that you are blind, deaf, crippled…. Now, imagine there is a Man who can heal these diseases in SECONDS. No therapy, no treatments, no potions, medicine, herbs or anything. Just immediate healing. I would probably tackle Jesus in my desperation. That is what is happening here. Jesus is about to be stampeded by the these people, so He asks His disciples to get a boat and paddle Him out from shore a little so that He can teach and heal from the boat.

Imagine you are there, watching Jesus. This amazing man with incredible power is there in a boat teaching and healing. Everyone is helped, every disease is cured, ever demon is cast out, every withered hand is made whole, every crippled person gets up and walks…. Can you imagine? Miracles such as these cannot cease being miraculous.

Jesus’ power and command over nature made Him very popular with the Jewish people, and just as Jesus avoids an early arrest by the Pharisees, He avoids being designated as an earthly ruler and King by His followers. (After all, a Man who can raise the dead to life would have an invincible army, right?)  In fact, there are several occasions when the people attempt to make Him King, but Jesus withdraws from these men.

Jesus does not want earthly notoriety, power or an army. He orders demons to be quiet so that the people do not get power hungry or swept away by starting a revolution to overthrow the Romans. This is the same promise Satan gives to Jesus – if only He will bow down and worship Satan, Jesus will have earthly worship, earthly Kingdoms, earthly power. Jesus doesn’t buy it.

In a normal economy, Jesus would have spent more time with the powerful, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Roman leaders, King Herod or the Roman Emperor. The rich hang out the with rich, and the powerful hang out the with powerful, right? In today’s world, I would recommend Jesus start taking donations, get personal security guards, a bullet-proof SUV, and a house with a fence and security cameras.

bible-verse-2-corinthians-my-grace-is-sufficient-for-you-for-my-power-is-made-perfect-in-weakness1_1_-1000x469

But this is God’s economy – He chooses the weak to shame the strong, the sick to shame the healthy, the broken to shame the whole, the small to humble the powerful, and foolish to humble the wise. Popularity changes most people, but not Jesus. Power corrupts most people, but not Jesus. He remains poor. He doesn’t have a home. He walks from city to city, sleeping wherever He can.  Who is this Man who is so utterly different that you and I? He has the power to raise people from the dead, to create something from nothing, and He spends His time in the rural countryside healing poor people. Amazing. Jesus shows grace, mercy, love and kindness toward the “least of these.” These actions, this behavior, fulfills the prophecy from Isaiah, which says:

“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
    my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
    and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.

bruised_reed

Jesus is God’s servant. Jesus is chosen by God, beloved by God. Jesus pleases God and God delights in Jesus. John Piper says, “When God beholds the Son, he sees that which by nature brings forth his most passionate enjoyment…. Jesus is God’s greatest delight because Jesus is God.”

He is full of the Holy Spirit and brings justice to the Gentiles. The GENTILES! Finally, there is hope for you and me! God is reaching out to the world, not just His chosen people, with a message of grace and forgiveness. This is odd, because most of Jesus’ ministry up to this point had been within Israel, but the Gospels will continue to show us that Jesus doesn’t care who you are or where you are from (Samaritan woman, Roman Governor, Syrian). He came to save sinners, just like you and me.

He will not quarrel or cry aloud,
    nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;
    and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

oil_lamp

This speaks to Jesus’ humility. The Kingdom of Christ is not of this world. Instead, the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, like a leaven in a lump of doughThe Kingdom is like a seed, like a light under a basket. In other words, it is a servant kingdom with a humble King. It is a kingdom made up of poor, weak, broken, needy people. It is a kingdom where the King dies for His people.

If you have a vase of tulips, and one of the tulip stems is bent, it looks funny, right? The flower is a little damaged and it makes the whole vase look bad. Most people would throw that flower away. Just purge the weak to strengthen the herd. Evolution’s idea of survival of the fittest. Not Jesus. He uses the weak, the broken, the needy to display His glory!

So if you feel broken, worthless, sapped of energy and vitality, take hope. Jesus doesn’t give up on you. He doesn’t throw you away or snuff you out. He tenderly waits, nurses you back to health, loves you into wholeness. He is, after all, the Great Physician. In fact, He shines through you the brightest! He uses the humble, not the proud, the poor, not the rich, the fool, not the wise. Jesus’ economy is an upside down economy. How does He do this? This verse below is a prophetic one, foretelling how Jesus accomplishes these great things.

He will not quarrel or cry aloud,
    nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;
    and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

This is strange, because doesn’t Jesus cry aloud to teach, doesn’t He quarrel with the Pharisees and money changers, doesn’t He preach and teach throughout every street in Jerusalem? The disciples at this precise moment in Jesus’ ministry would not have applied this prophecy to Jesus. Jesus was causing trouble, rejecting the Pharisaic authority, crying aloud in the streets, bringing justice to the poor and judgement on the rich, privileged and religious. The disciples did not see the cross looming in the distance.

But there was a day when Jesus did not quarrel or cry aloud, no one heard Him petitioning in the streets for Justice. There was a day, the Bible tell us in Isaiah 53, when Jesus was led to the Cross like a lamb to the slaughter, when He didn’t open His mouth. When asked to defend Himself from crucifixion, Matthew 27:14 says that Jesus “gave him [Pilot] no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.” There was a day when Jesus went to the Cross for you and me, for my sin, for your sin. He died on that cross as an innocent man, but bearing our sin and shame and guilt.

And then three days later He rose again from the dead. Forty days later He ascended into heaven and is right now seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. Jesus took our sin and shame and guilt to the cross and killed it there. Jesus rose victorious over sin and death. Death is powerful; it kills. Jesus is stronger; He rose. Through Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension, Jesus can transform us from a weak, broken, needy, lost people into His people. Give yourself to Him, ask Him into your heart and life, and He will save you. ‘For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'”

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