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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Easter in Christmastime

Illustration by: Jacob Thomas

What examples can you think of in Jesus' life when his speech was gentile...? When it was cutting like a sword? Why the difference? When is it best to be gentle with people? To be strong and cutting? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1029). 

Following quotations from the Gospel, NIV translation.

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.” 

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying: 

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

It is clear that Jesus had kind words for the humble, spiritually innocent, and those who conceded they were vulnerable (with no record unblemished) and harsh words for those with hard self-righteous hearts even though possessing a clean legalistic rap sheet. It is certainly true that it is much more rewarding to work with humble individuals behind bars than prideful pillars of society sure of their own superiority. Jesus' modulated approach made sense because the humble and vulnerable are easily hurt and do not misconstrue kindness whereas the self-righteous ensconce themselves in a maddening shell and see kindness as a weakness and hurt those who live by it.

At Christmastime the gentle Jesus is greatly emphasized. It is well to remember at this time that Jesus did not get crucified for being a wishy-washy wimp. He regularly made people mad—very mad. No fury can match that of spurned self-righteousness exercising unchecked revenge.

We, it must be remembered, are to follow the example of Christ—not only in our gentleness, but in our strength and crazy courage—for it remains always crazy to poke a stick at coiled self-righteousness.

Some Christians panned the movie “Jesus Christ Superstar” and found it profoundly unbiblical. Not so me. It is worrisome to me that Christ can be so abstractly conceived as gentle and sweet as to make his crucifixion unthinkable. Anytime we find this to be the case, we can be assured it is a fictional characterization born of a Pharisaical heart within a steady state of wishful thinking.


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