“The grace of God turns out to be uncomfortable and embarrassing. Jesus is socially disruptive; his radical grace disrupts social situations. And we don’t like the church to be disrupted. We regard marginalized people in the church as “a problem” to be “handled”.
Involvement with people, especially the marginalized, begins with a profound grasp of God’s grace. Often our instincts are to keep our distance. But the Son of God ate with them. He’s not embarrassed by them. He lets them kiss his feet. He’s the friend of riffraff, traitors, the un-respectable, drunks, druggies, prostitutes, the mentally ill, the broken, and the needy — people whose lives are a mess.
Ultimately, Jesus gave his life for them. Luke prefaces the story by telling us that Jesus’s enemies accuse him of being, “a glutton and a drunkard.” It’s an allusion to Deuteronomy 21:21, which describes how a rebellious, drunken son is to be stoned. Jesus, they are saying, is a rebellious son of Israel. “Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.” (Luke 7:35).In other words, we will see who proves to be the rebellious child. And it turns out not to be Jesus. Jesus will prove a faithful Son, indeed the faithful Son of Israel. Israel itself is a rebellious son of God.
But here is the crazy irony. Jesus does die the death of a rebellious son. Not stoned, but hung on the cross. The same passage in Deuteronomy that condemns a rebellious son declares that everyone who hangs on a tree is cursed (21:22-23). Jesus is not a rebellious son. I am. You are. But Jesus dies the death of a rebellious son. He dies my death. He dies the death of rebellious sinners.”
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