Who is the real Jesus? If he walked the earth today would we be offended by him?
Let’s examine the real Jesus.
Let’s look at Matthew 11:2-11 and being offended at Jesus.
Matthew 11:2 John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, 3 “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
4 Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— 5 the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” 6 And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”
7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? 8 Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. 9 Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 10 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,
‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.’ 11 “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Are You the One (vs 3)
John the Baptist’s messengers asked Jesus, are you the ONE? Jesus was different than John expected. He did not live a Nazirite vow or ascetic lifestyle. Jesus ate and drank with sinners. He was a pacifist not a warrior. He turned the other cheek, healing and preaching good news to the poor. Blessed are those not offended by this Jesus.
John’s messengers asked, are you THE One, not one of the ones, but the one. There are many would-be Messiahs, selling salvation in real estate millions, salvation from old vacuum cleaners, salvation in jewelry, salvation in worldly politics, salvation in fashion, salvation in new gadgets and the vitamin Messiahs. There is only one real savior and his name is Jesus.
Are we are disappointed in Jesus? He did not encourage tongues, Sabbaths, prayers to Mary, or rosaries. He did not teach about popes or bishops, Christmas, specific liturgical demands, American or British nationalism, and a materialistic gospel. He condemned abusive, authoritarian religious leadership. He healed, preached to the poor about giving and self-sacrifice, and a kingdom not of this world.
John was an activist and revolutionary. Jesus was a healer and teacher. Was John frustrated that Jesus did not get into politics or fight? Jesus did not make John a disciple. John looked for a political Messiah. Are we disappointed with Jesus, the life of poverty, the hair, the dying on a cross or do we wait patiently for salvation?
Christmas was rescued from paganism. Christians converted pagan temples into churches. They converted winter observances into Christian ones. Christmas is again becoming a pagan festival, the pursuit of profit, the focus on gifts, parties, the stampedes for merchandise and the pressure to spend. There is still a voice of one crying in the wilderness. Let’s rescue Christmas all over again.
The Real Jesus (vs 5)
What do we see and hear of Jesus, a little baby in a manger, a long haired hippie, a tooth fairy who will grant our wishes, or someone who heals lives and preaches to the poor? Instead of an imaginary Jesus of our wishes, let us get to know the real Jesus and be grateful for who he really is.
Is our salvation found in politics, wealth, or the military? Will he wear simple clothes or expensive attire? Jesus was none of those things. The blind received sight, the lame walked, lepers were cleansed, the deaf heard, the dead were raised up, and the poor heard the good news. This is what the Messiah looks like. He is the one.
Do we create a fake Jesus, with things that neither Jesus nor his Apostles taught? Do we attach ourselves to traditions, human ideas and fads more than Jesus? Our ideas, politics, and traditions only divide us. They are built on a Jesus that we created because we are disappointed with simplicity of the real Jesus? The real Jesus unites us.
Taking God’s Kingdom by Violence (vs. 12)
John the Baptist’s death is an example of God’s kingdom suffering violence and violent people taking it by force. The Greek word translated as violent can also be translated as zeal or aggressive force and certainly ardent zeal is needed for Christians to enter God’s kingdom. Christianity is not the easy path. It is a spiritual battle against evil.
Do we know the real Jesus or have we created a fictitious Jesus? Are we expecting him to solve all our worldly problems now or do we look forward to that day when he will take over the governments of this world? Have we put our faith in the real Jesus?