Do you ever wonder, like this blogger, if Jesus would actually like you? Not whether some abstract principle of grace covers you. But the question, How would the radical Jesus of the bible deal with you?
I mean the Guy’s fierce. Totally uncompromising, pure. No double-standards, no tolerance for double-standards. He sees you to the bottom. He knows your heart. One sentence from His lips will expose you to the world.
More than this He’s walking the road to Golgotha and there’s only one way to follow – take up your cross and join Him. On the way, confess His name to the world, stand behind His words, own Him to His deadliest enemies. Love your would-be killers, pray for your persecutors. Got money? Give it away. Got possessions? Sell them. Let nothing hinder you. Don’t settle your affairs first, don’t even bury your father. Follow.
Now think. Who is surrounding Jesus, following along the Golgotha way? The religious keen-beans right? The professionally moral? No chance. Those guys are walking away conspiring to kill Him.
Who is flocking to Jesus? Sinners and tax collectors. They run to the Holy One of Israel – the One who could throw them body and soul into hell.
Try this as a test: Read the last ten verses of Luke 14. In it Jesus turns to the crowds and says:
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters- yes, even his own life- he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple… any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
Now read the first verse of Luke 15 (and remember that chapter divisions are not part of the original Scriptures):
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering round to hear him.
Huh?? Shouldn’t the ‘sinners’ be running for the hills? How can Jesus turn up the discipleship temperature to nuclear and at the same time have the most notoriously immoral people draw near??
Well perhaps these words from Jesus will help. They might just be my favourite:
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
Jesus is not the Health Police – enforcing wellness, punishing the sick! He’s the Doctor. The sick do not run from Him but to Him. It’s the ‘healthy’ who run away. The ‘righteous’ cannot bear His presence. Ostensibly they worry about Jesus’ reputation – eating with sinners. In reality it is their reputation at stake – eating with the Doctor. For to share His company is to admit to a deep spiritual sickness and to abandon the ‘healthy’ facade.
Yet for the sick, they have abandoned the healthy facade. And they’ve come to realise that their sickness does not prevent them from coming to Christ. Their sickness is why they come to Christ. And so they come and find in Jesus a Doctor for Whom no disease is beyond His healing power.
Jesus is the Doctor for sick sinners. And this understanding is at the heart of the question ‘How does the radical Jesus of the bible deal with me?’ Not as the Health Police but as the Doctor. He calls me to Himself in all my sin – in all my inability to follow.
So Christ’s radical call to discipleship goes out. If I’m seeing things clearly I know three things:
1) Jesus is right, that is the way.
2) I have no chance of treading that path. None. Zero. Squat.
3) Jesus is the Doctor – He and He only can take what is natural to me (desertion!) and turn it into discipleship.
In this way I answer Christ’s call. I draw nearer to the One who commands, not because I recognize in myself the strength to answer His call. But I recognize in Him the power to redeem my weakness. It’s not about seeing health in us. It’s all about seeing healing in the Doctor.
In the future (when I’ve got some time) I’ll look at Christ’s actual healings as demonstrations of just this dynamic.