Luke 23.8 records Herod being very glad to see Jesus. Why? Because Herod wanted to see something spectacular, to see a sign and a wonder… in short, Herod wanted entertainment. I often wonder why I come to Jesus. Is it because i am captivated by the beauty, truth, and love of Yahweh made manifest in Jesus… or am I hoping to see some sign, some wonder… am I hoping to be entertained and pandered to by the Lord of Hosts?
The modern practice of Christianity has reduced a life of faith in the promises of Yahweh down to seven “truths” to achieve your greatest potential as a man/woman of God. Yesterday, I heard someone say on TV that “Your success is in God’s best interest because He has made you in his image, meaning that he has stamped His name on you. Therefore, God’s reputation is on the line in your success. By prospering you, God is being zealous for his name.”… or some [crap] like that. How is this any different than Herod? Are we looking for God to do something to make us happy in our own eyes?
But the other side of the coin is the abject despondency that threatens to over take us when we believe the lie that God’s will is the exact opposite of everything that we love and find joy in (John Piper has done a good job refuting this idea with his idea of “Christian Hedonism“).
So how do we approach Jesus? Dare we edge close to blasphemy and demand that he treat us like the princes and princesses we really are and give us every little mud pie that will satiate our fleshly desires for a time? Or, should we come Groveling and denying any and all happiness that “thy will be done”?
Truth is, neither extreme of the heart is drawing toward the actual person of Jesus. Often we reshape Christ into the kind of Lord we think we want. Personally, I think this is the cause for allot of really bad teaching and the loss of Hope. Our warped perceptions lead us to be dissatisfied with God, and often let down when things don’t go our way.
A similar situation faced the disciples of Jesus in the days after the crucifixion: a dead lord and no revolt against Rome. How was this the Messiah? Was it all a lie? Was it a sham? Where were the hosts of heaven and Jesus’ coming in Power? Wasn’t He the Son of God after all? And what about all the good He did: healing the sick, freeing the oppressed, proclaiming the message of the Kingdom! How could this dead man bring a kingdom?
Most of the Jews at that time were looking for a Messiah that would be a nationalist, one to over throw the political powers that be and raise up the nation of Israel in power again. But this was not why Jesus came the first time. He did not come to fufill His peoples expectations… He did not come to do what was right in their eyes… Jesus did not come to pander to the desires for entertainment, to rule as a tyrant of un-joy, or to do anything less than to fulfill everything that His Father had spoken.
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
We need to see how Jesus is the fulfillment of everything spoken in our Bibles. Without Jesus, the Bible would be a useless, fanciful set of stories and writings. Jesus began to expound the scriptures to these two disciples, and they began to hope.
So, how do we approach Jesus? How do I approach Jesus in a correct way, in a way that is not spoiled brat, deject slave or based upon some other misconception of our Savior?
Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
It is not some easy, seven steps to freedom. It is not a quick understanding of your purpose. It is not believing more and harder. No, it is the simple willingness to be refined by this Consuming Fire. Let the Spirit of God explain all things and remind us of the words of Jesus, see that He alone is who the scriptures point to as having zoe life to give, and be willing to act on the truth we are being taught (be a doer of the word!).
I know this can sound trite, and I am not trying to easily explain away the problem of a mis-conception of Jesus with a simple Sunday school answer of, “read your Bible and pray”. I know we all have pre-constructed notions of what the text says, and that shapes our interpretations and our understandings of who Jesus is. But the real Jesus has been raised up that He might draw all men unto Himself and instruct them in all truth. If we are serious about seeing Jesus correctly, then we need to be willing to let our expectations go. If we expect Him to entertain, we will be board. If we expect Him to rule our lives with an iron curtain and fist, we will miss the call of the good shepherd. If we expect Jesus to conform to our theological ideas and constructs just because they make since, we will never know what it is to receive the Word of God with meekness.
Jesus Christ alone should shape our understanding of Yahweh and a life of faith. Until we can admit that we do not see clearly and need to be corrected we will be like Herod, sending Jesus away because He did not suit our expectations.