Saturday, October 19, 2013

is this God human?

The central question of Jesus’ temptation in the desert is not “Is this person God?” but rather “Is this God human?”.

With every test, the devil tempts Jesus to do something divine. “Turn those stones to bread. Throw yourself down; the angels will catch you. Be the King you are meant to be.”

The Christ could have done all those things and he would have been justified in doing so. But that is not why he came. He came to bring the kingdom of God near.  That is the radical departure of the ministry of Jesus. In Christ, God would no longer be inapproachable; rather, all people would have access to him through his shared humanity.  

This notion is borne out in the verses that immediately follow the record of Jesus’ temptation. The following verse should both console and convict us at one and the same time: “When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee.” The account of the temptation leaves off at verse 11 and the narrative picks up with a picture of “a withdrawing Christ.”

He had passed the test. Come what may, this Messiah would be fully human—God with us.

He ministered in the withdrawn places, the land of Zebulun, Naphtali, Galilee. These places were by no means the center of any kind of “civilization”—including small Israel’s.

He ministered to those on the margins. This section of Scripture narrates that the recipients of this kingdom-come-near were the sick, the possessed and the paralyzed. Those holding structural power at this time considered these folks cursed. It was a way to explain why they were afflicted. “Surely they deserve it.” And the powerful were considered the blessed, sacred, holy, set-apart. There must be no “mixing” the sacred with the profane, the clean with the unclean.

But this new ministry is more Jesus-the-Messiah than the-Messiah-Jesus. He leads from a common humanity. He comes among the merely human.

So, no: he will not turn that stone into bread. No: he will not perform some miraculous jumping stunt. No: he will not be the kind of king we want.

He will lay down his divine rights so he may pick up our wounded humanity. He can be our companion today. Look for him because he is near.

No comments: