Ten Reasons I Love Weird Jesus

Ten Reasons I Love Weird Jesus January 18, 2019
Sometimes all I really want to do as a pastor is tell people how much I love Jesus. But because people have heard folks exclaim their love for Jesus quite often, it may be less than clear what I mean.
So, this Sunday in worship, I plan to use the sermon to simply share why I unabashedly love Jesus. We’re going to be working from Matthew 11, one of the more enigmatic passages in the gospels. So allow me, if you would, to offer some examples of what I love about Jesus, as a kind of foretaste, and hopefully an invitation to love Jesus the way I love Jesus.

So, first there’s the whole thing where Jesus never simply answers a question with, “Yes.”

Whether this is a survival tactic under a violent empire, or a discipleship strategy to force all hearers to think more deeply, it remains true, Jesus seems to avoid simple answers like “yes” or “no.” Pilate: “Are you the Messiah?” Jesus: “You say that I am.” Jesus is especially avoidant of answering questions regarding his Messiah-ship. So in Matthew 11, when John sends messengers to ask if Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus replies: “Go tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, etc.”

Related to this, Jesus is as political as heck, but not in the way anyone anticipated.

It’s like everyone nominated him to run for governor of Arkansas for a major party, and then instead of getting out stumping and winning votes, he spends a day volunteering at the children’s hospital, another day sleeping with the homeless on the street, and a third day up on Petit Jean preaching to a rag tag crowd of farmers. He’s an epic failure at traditional political strategizing, all the while conducting the most powerful movement building the world has ever seen.

He’s fully human and fully God, which also means he comes across as not-quite-human and not-quite-God.

Matthew 11:18: “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”” John was on many levels more holy than Jesus. In fact quite a few people in history have seemed better Christians than Jesus: St. Francis, Mother Teresa, Ghandi. So Jesus really wasn’t as great a man as some others. On the other hand, he’s the Son of God. But he doesn’t “do God” like you’d expect. He completely frustrates almost all the ways we tend to think about God by antithesis: he’s not impassible, almighty, immortal, omniscient, and so on.

He’s got the best mom.

His mom is like social justice warrior extraordinaire. From the time he was born, she’d been singing these amazing politically subversive songs (what we sometimes call the Magnificat). During his public ministry, she was always organizing, always present, bringing the movement forward.
The Almighty has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty. 

He said the oddest things.

Sometimes they were straight up paradoxes, or at the very least dialectical. Like the Sermon on the Mount. He told parables, which are pretty much the best short-short story collection ever assembled. And if you start to list the things he said that Christians tend to overlook, things get pretty wacky. As just one example, Jesus taught that John the Baptist was Elijah come again (and who was going to come “again again”; 11:14). 

Did I mention he had the best friends?

We might mention Moses and Elijah, with whom he was tight. But then also Mary Magdalene, John the Baptist, the disciples (some better than others, as it were, but my favorite is Peter). And then he seemed to simply get out with people in social settings pretty much all the time. It’s like everywhere Jesus went was either to attend a party, or to assemble one. Hence, the water to wine in John 2. And again Matthew 11: the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’

He regularly stuck it to the powerful… like pretty much all the time.

But he could at the same time be really close friends with those in power who had themselves aligned with his movement. Think of Zachaeus. But he was always sensitive to the weak and lowly ones. Think children. Or the widow who gave all she had. Or the woman who washed his feet. And so on. 

We have four stories about him, which is way better than just having one.

Some other religions portray Jesus in alternative ways… for example, at least a couple of world religions claim Jesus didn’t die on the cross. But we have on good record from four witnesses that he did, and this his death, even more than his resurrection, is central to the good news. Jesus died. On a cross. In complete faithfulness to his mission.

He rose from the dead and was both recognizable and unrecognizable.

He ate fish but also passed through doors. At his death, bodies came out of tombs and walked around Jerusalem. Ever since, people have tried to make sense of this moment, his death and resurrection, and they’ve come up with all kinds of fascinating perspectives, from the idea that the resurrection is just a collective unconscious insight of the apostolic community, all the way over to cosmic notions of a world transfigured and ontologically changed by the events around him in that moment… signified by the fact that the curtain on the temple with a painting of creation was torn in two when he died. All I know is, that was a big enough moment that people decided to go back and figure out roughly when Jesus was born and then date history from that moment. 

I could go on and on, because I love this guy so much.

But in the end, one of the things I love most about him is that he coalesced a movement, a community of people who tries to be an outpost of the kingdom he cast a vision of, a continuing body of his presence in the world. The church is a lot of things, sometimes not that great of things, but in its best moments, it gives the world the continuing presence of this man, Jesus. That’s no small thing.

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  • Janet Graige

    So now I have a stump the pastor thought.. what would the Jesus church have looked like if he’d not been murdered, if he’d hung around instead of being hung on the cross? Would he have continued as the rebel Jewish weird stuff, a reformer of Jewish faith? Would he have started his own thing, like he’d already started his own thing? And my big thought is that they would have gotten to interfaith pretty quickly. I think about this lots. Because I think he would have gotten quickly to what some of us are doing now, faith communities (interfaith) for the common good, new sanctuary, prison reform, inclusion.

  • Ivan T. Errible

    Churches have delusions of relevance.

  • Ivan T. Errible

    How about getting rid of the churches’ tax breaks and housing allowances if you want to be really like jesus?

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    I wonder what percentage of parishioners in the Evangelical/Christian church of today, would still love Jesus so much if He had Black skin, or even Brown, Red, or Yellow skin? Or how about if He didn’t wear the parishioner-prescribed wardrobe? Or He never had a penny to His Name?

    When the answer to all these questions is 100% … then, and only then, would I ever reconsider returning to today’s “Harlot of Babylon” churches!

  • Patrick

    While I appreciate your unabashed love for Jesus, I have heard this from fellow Christians for so long that it tends to lose impact. And I’ve often thought and wondered why we overlook John 13:34-35 “But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you. If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples.” I think our Christian walk shines best when we love one another.

  • Ocelot Aardvark
  • jekylldoc

    Well, Jesus also had some rough things about him. But what I like is that the more I live according to his promises, the happier I am with life. Bad things still happen, but they are not “me”, and the things that make life meaningful go right on.

  • Chari McCauley

    How would folks feel if He and Father manage to save the first fallen son? Was he not, at one time a beloved Morning Star? The first Prodigal son?

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    It all goes back to free will and pride. I suppose if Lucifer were to suddenly abandon his pride and sincerely repent he would receive forgiveness. That goes for TЯ卐mp too … as well as his cultists.

    I don’t have all the answers, but it seems that Lucifer’s whole problem is (and has been) that he considered himself greater than
    God the Father and proceeded to cause chaos, discord, jealousy, malevolence and Treason in Heaven. Sound familiar?

    However, you are correct in naming Lucifer the “first fallen son” but he is NOT the First Son … that distinction belongs only to Christ. Who … “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the “Word was God. – John 1:1

    Lucifer managed to deceive one third of the Angels in Heaven to his treason … thus causing a war in Heaven. Lucifer and his followers were cast down to the Earth … where now, having only a short time left, are doing everything they can to destroy God’s Creation and cause Christ’s true believers to falter.

    Lucifer is a created being, an archangel … but he is NOT God. He was created as the Morning Star, and given honor, glory and privileges to fit his station in Heaven, but NOT the authority to usurp our Creator. That authority belongs to only God.

  • Chari McCauley

    You said yourself, Lucifer sees himself as a God, not just any god, The God. There is no unity in any of his plans. He also has plenty of little jealous helpers, at his disposal, because they ARE disposable to him.

    Therefore, according to 1 Corinthians 13, also Genesis 1: 26, and to include Their Son John 1:1; The Father is NOT The Jealous God, it is NOT within His own character. We have clues in Job’s story, where Father allowed His jealous sons to prove their point, but they had no hold on Job’s soul; that belongs to Father, He even owns the fate/souls of those jealous sons.

    Had Job recognized The Father, he would have recognized who was doing all the damage. Another thing that people miss, is that those sons, while being raised in Father’s home also had protective hedges around them, but WE, HUMANS are not good enough to have that kind of Father’s attention; Lucifer sees US as being like the ground he walks on.
    Remember the protection promised to Cain, and also Ishmael.

    The Father is NO Herod! We must, however, have enough knowledge of the enemy to be shrewd as snakes, while ensuring our own character remains as The Lord showed us.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Like my comment says: “I don’t have all the answers” …

    But thank you for bringing up the subject of Job. There are a few things I disagree about with God. One such disagreement is why did God do the Flood thing, killing hundreds of thousands of people, even children … but God Himself regretted doing the Flood … and promised us to NEVER again destroy all flesh on Earth with a Flood. – Genesis 8:21 and Genesis 9:11

    Another mystery, to me at least, is why God allowed Lucifer to cause Job such suffering. You have helped me understand, a portion of that mystery with your comment. So again, thank you.

    Of course, Job, like the rest of us, was a flawed human being, so it’s understandable why he couldn’t understand God’s reasons for allowing such a harsh trial. In any case, in the end, after voicing his own disagreements with God, Job was restored … but I’m sure Job painfully missed his lost children, who were also killed, by Satan, during his trial.

    So … have we even scratched the surface of the mystery as to whether or not Lucifer could be ‘saved’? I don’t think we are capable of understanding that until we meet Our Lord face to face; and all things are revealed. In the meantime, patience is a virtue. 🙂