Progressive Christian Channel
Was Jesus a Drama King?
So I wrote a book to explore this phenomenon, and I hope that as we meet Jesus again, as he weeps at the death of a beloved friend, or allows a heartbroken woman to lovingly massage his dirty feet with her oiled hair, or lashes out angrily at the hypocrisy of the religious leaders, or quakes in fear at his impending death, or speaks to a sorrowful thief on the cross next to him, we too can truly experience the emotion of the moment with Jesus. We can sense reality breaking through our carefully constructed self-protections as our souls come alive with passionate wonder.
So, to get you started on your own journey toward authenticity with God and others, here are just six ways that Jesus was emotionally real with those around him.
1) Jesus offered love in uninhibited, freely shared, actively expressed ways.
There are glimpses of this throughout the gospels. Take for example his relationship with the so-called "beloved disciple." During the final meal in the upper room (Jn. 13:21-26), a troubled Jesus announces that one of his disciples would betray him. A shockwave of surprise shoots through those gathered around the table. In the midst of this intense moment the writer notes, "One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, 'Lord, who is it?'" And Jesus indicates it is Judas.
In this moment heavy with concern and confusion, this beloved disciple leans closer to Jesus and lays his head on his rabbi's chest. The original language indicates much more strongly that this beloved one "was reclining . . . in the bosom of Jesus" (Jn. 13:23). There he rests in Jesus' easy embrace. It is a place of acceptance and safety, a place of supreme trust and unashamed devotion.
This vignette offers us a breathtaking reality: Jesus welcomes our affectionate devotion. In our mind, our heart, our innermost being, we too can rest against the bosom of our Lord and he will not push us away. Like the beloved disciple, we can experience a relationship of love and trust, now and forever.
This was the love Jesus lived with his disciples, as revealed within the pages and between the lines of the gospels: It was honest, clear, passionate, without shame or restraint. Jesus expressed a wide range of emotions with his followers—even anger—but love was the foundation of them all.
2) Jesus expressed anger in straightforward ways—in the service of God's justice.
We are surrounded by anger in our divisive society, and much of it is unhealthy, harmful, and counterproductive. But there's a category of anger that we must also recognize: righteous anger, the kind of anger Jesus displays. Righteous anger can give us courage to do what we might otherwise not be able to do, helping us to overcome the paralysis of fear. It can fuel outspokenness to rebuke evil or injustice, giving force to reproaches that otherwise we'd keep to ourselves or simply mumble in complaint. We can see this sort of anger today, for example, in the call for gun control in response to recent horrific shooting rampages.
In one incident recorded in all four gospels, Jesus puts his fury into action. Jesus comes to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, and what he finds in the temple makes his blood boil (Jn. 2:14-17). The religious establishment was profiting from the law of God, forcing the people to purchase "unblemished" sacrificial animals at grossly inflated rates, and compelling them to pay to exchange their money for "acceptable" coins. What God had established as a means to enter into the divine presence in worship had been corrupted into a tawdry moneymaking enterprise. When Jesus saw what was happening, he responded in whip-cracking fury with tables and coins flying, animals and temple leaders scrambling.
Peter Wallace is the host of "Day1" and author of The Passionate Jesus: What We Can Learn from Jesus about Love, Fear, Grief, Joy and Living Authentically (SkyLight Paths Publishing).