Friday, February 27, 2009

Will we ever "Get It"?

"You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." - Jesus (John 13:7)

Lent Day Three: Will we ever understand?
Sometimes the crowds surrounding Jesus were dense; very often his closest friends were fairly dense too. Same word, entirely different meaning!

Most evenings, when Andrew and Naomi were growing up, we would pepper our family dinnertime conversation with "Questions." It was a great way to coax ideas and opinions and honesty out of the children. The practice worked so well that - quite often - I still go to dinner with friends or family armed with two or three new guaranteed conversation starters, just in case.

Jesus was well-known for doing the same thing with his friends. His most frequent and telling questions went like this.
  • "Do you not understand?"
  • "Have you not seen and heard?"
  • "Don't you get it?"
  • "Are you not a student of the law?"
  • The Gospel writers often include phrases like, "And he wondered at their lack of understanding..."
The Lord persisted. He rephrased, he told parables, he lived by example. But it was all so foreign, so radical and so personal. Christ's approach was markedly unusual in the harsh Middle Eastern world where life was often cheap and the last thing anyone expected of a deity was compassion.

They were, after all, looking for the kind of Messiah who would smash Rome into tiny pieces and then establish a tangible kingdom of RAW POWER. And yet here was Jesus, walking on water, calming the storm, caring for the child, touching the leper, speaking with - gasp! - women...

"The kingdom if God is like this ______," he would say, and startle them all with another grain of seed, a lost sheep, or a crippled man. And Jesus cared, passionately, for individuals. Not even one sparrow falls, he told anyone who would listen, without it mattering to God.

And so they entered Jerusalem, triumphant at last, with Jesus perched on a borrowed donkey, the sign of contrition and of peace. And then, rather than claim a temporal, earthly throne, he took his disciples aside for one last meal together, broke bread with them, and dropped the bombshell that he was going to die.

"Excuse me?" his friends must have said, "Would you run that by us again. We were just getting used to the servant stuff and then we really liked the whole triumphal entry thing. But now you say 'This is my body, broken for you? This is my blood - as often as you drink it'...?"

"So listen already," Jesus must have said. "I'm going to go over the highlights one more time..."

And this will be our study - during these next crucial weeks leading up to Easter. To go over the highlights one more time. We'll do it with Jesus, with all those original Jesus-followers, and with his last words - at the Last Supper.

PRAYER: Bless us, Great Creator. with hearts open to hear your radical and compelling message. Teach us through these forty days. and fill us with your Holy Spirit. Amen

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