I’ll admit that this title stopped me in my tracks. I almost didn’t read it; but I’m glad that I did. This is wonderful, thoughtful material. It reminds us once again of the Grace of God.
The doctrine of the incarnation reminds us that Jesus was both divine and human. His humanity endured enormous stress as he was repeatedly rejected by the very people he came to love. It hurt.
In fact, on the eve of his arrest we find Jesus so distressed over what is coming that he collapsed in an olive grove, weeping, under such duress that he perspired drops of blood.
It was heartbreaking for Jesus. The purpose of his trip to earth was to give grace to people, but so many people rejected, or were indifferent to, the good news he brought.
Because Jesus wasn’t the kind of savior people were expecting, he was rejected by most, and the few who accepted him were mainly from the other side of the tracks.
Jesus was considered edgy by the religious establishment. He was an antiestablishment heretic who ignored certain “sacred” Jewish practices. He did his own thing, often in blatant defiance of the most respected religious leaders.
Jesus wasn’t the kind of revolutionary one might have expected to make history. He didn’t manipulate the crowds or pull together coalitions, gathering as much power as possible. In fact, he ignored the systems of power that made the ancient world function.
Yet grace was ever present in his life and ministry, even in his relationships with his enemies. Jesus wasn’t so much angry at the religious establishment as he was heartbroken over their unbelief – so much so that he once broke down as he approached Jerusalem. Looking down over the city from a high hill, he said, “If you only knew…” (Luke 19:42 GNT).
Choosing to follow Jesus wasn’t a respectable, admirable thing to do. Following Jesus was truly radical. It would cost you – and it might cost you everything. It was like wearing a Red Sox cap in the middle of Yankee Stadium. It was a provocation.
And why did Jesus go through all of this? Why did he knowingly invite so much ridicule and shame, so much pain and embarrassment? Why was he willing to start life in a feeding trough, only so he could end it by being cursed at, flogged, stripped of his clothes, and nailed an executioner’s cross? Why did he leave the Father’s side and exit heaven to wander around this heartsick place?
He did all of this for one reason: you. That’s right – you.
He caught your eye through history’s window as he stared over the bannister of heaven, and he determined that he would care for you and give you a chance. He would make grace available and give you an opportunity to enjoy peace again.
And maybe you already know all of this. But I’m wondering if you really know it.
Like a lover catching the first glance of his beloved in a crowded train station after a long journey back home from a faraway land, Jesus caught your eye and then endured the cross so that you might be invited to dine again with God.
Into a culture where the gods seemed to look, and behave, like superhumans with perfect physiques and Herculean qualities – came Jesus. The one true God didn’t come adorned with Romanesque glory, and he didn’t arrive to celebration in a city like Rome or Athens, Alexandria or Jerusalem. He arrived in Bethlehem, and he came as an innocent child.
Jesus went through hell to show his kindness, to give us grace. He was on a mission to woo back God’s long, lost love.