Progressive Christian Channel
Was Jesus a Drama King?
An incident in Luke 10:17-24 contains surprising moments of joy. Jesus, managing the ever-growing impact of his popular ministry, appoints seventy of his followers to go ahead of him in pairs to every town to minister in his name, healing the sick, preaching his message of hope in the coming of God's reign.
These seventy followers return from their assignment "with joy," reporting amazing responses among the people as they healed and taught them. They are bursting with happy excitement over their spiritual successes. Jesus encourages them, and then explains that the source of their joy should not be in their authoritative empowerment to serve in exhilarating ways. They have nothing to do with that; it is the work of God within them. Their joy should arise wholly out of the reality that they belong to God, who gives them their healing mission and the power to fulfill it.
Then Jesus tells his disciples, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it." Their joy in fulfilling his ministry is unmatched in human history. Even the famous prophets and powerful kings yearned for this reality, but the disciples have seen it with their own eyes.
Jesus' joy is palpable, and even more intense and exuberant than that of his followers. They are happy and excited, but he is thrilled and exuberant. He can see his mission bearing fruit, because his followers have caught his vision. Jesus sees God at work among the people, he realizes his message is making headway, and he encourages his disciples to be happy because of their amazing experiences. They are finally fulfilling the will of God on this earth, satisfying a yearning that has existed among God's people for centuries. The time has come, and their joy is real. Although dark opposition looms, ultimately all will be well. Their joy will be made complete.
6) Jesus possessed an integrated spirit as a fully realized human being—and we can follow his model.
Was Jesus a drama king? In no way. Yes, Jesus' emotions were intense and honest. He let himself feel his feelings wholly and expressed them directly. While Jesus' emotional life may resemble a roaring mountain river, with clear water flowing in uninhibited torrents, we may feel our emotional lives resemble a stagnant, scum-covered pond, decaying, subdued, and murky.
So Jesus invites us to open ourselves to him and drink deeply of his life. "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, 'Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water'" (Jn. 7:37-38).
By accepting this invitation we fulfill the ancient Hebrew prayer, the Shema, which calls us to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might." Such a love has as its goal not emotional ecstasy nor spiritual detachment, but rather the experience and expression of a full range of healthy, passionate emotions, which are the natural overflow of our spiritual life.
Jesus offers the promise of a pure and whole emotional authenticity if we will seek it. And when we do, God can shatter the oppressive, hyper-controlled order that we have so carefully constructed to protect ourselves from the pain and difficulty of life. God forces us to choose whether to hold tight to a stifling, unfulfilling emotional life, or to let go in the liberation of genuine wholeness.
When we choose to live authentically, important implications arise for our relationships with others. Just as Jesus built relationships of love and trust, we too are called to do the same, enjoying the company of one another in a fellowship of love. In doing so we are better prepared and engaged to carry one another's problems and burdens, as well as all of life's troubles that threaten to overwhelm us.
Jesus desires that we thrive as individuals who in healthy, transparent ways are able to forgive and love. In order to help us become what we truly yearn to be, we will have to deal with a little chaos in our lives, but that can only help to crack apart our self-protective barriers and yield the blessing of a fulfilling, fruit-producing life as an authentic human being.
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).