Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Ordinary Jesus

You would not have known him, most likely, if you had passed him on the street. He would have been just another face in the crowd. Especially if you had met him before his ministry really began to take off. One testimony to this fact is that from 12 to roughly 30, we know nothing of what Jesus was up to. Nothing at all.

Isaiah said it would be like that. As he peered down the corridor of time with the eyes of the Spirit, he saw the Messiah. This is how he described his coming King:

He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him (Isaiah 53:2).

Isaiah thought that there was nothing particularly attractive about Jesus. He looked to Isaiah to be stunningly normal. No shekinah glory beaming from his face, and no halo encircling his head. He was an ordinary Jewish guy, an ordinary man.

Another shocking example of Jesus' apparent normalcy was his reception at Nazareth. Upon his arrival the people exclaimed, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?" (John 6:42). Think on that for a moment. Nazareth was probably a small, rural town where everyone knew everyone else. They'd seen Jesus grow up, they knew where he lived, they knew his parents and what his father did for a living. Whatever they had observed in his young life must have been rather unimpressive. After all, they certainly hadn't expected that he would be the Messiah of Israel, and frankly, they thought he was probably out of his mind for saying so.

There are two points that I want to make from the ordinary life of Jesus. The first is that when you silence his word, you take away much of what demonstrated how extraordinary he truly was. Jesus was ordinary to look at, but when he opened his mouth rivers of living water flowed out. This is why churches die today, I believe. They hold to an exalted Jesus, and they picture him as a sort of mystic, probably, with a halo over his head, but they will not heed his word, and because of this, they miss the marvel of who Jesus is. When pastors and teachers fail to proclaim the Word of God, we will wind up missing the human Jesus as well as the divine one.

How quick we run past the man to embrace the God, and thereby we miss much wonder. Yes, I trumpet and proclaim Jesus as God, and I love that truth with passion. But with equal fervor I must say, "Yes! Yes! And he is man! (With a little 'h',even!) He cried and bled and worked and walked and breathed and fell. He was splendidly and wonderfully ordinary. Yes, he holds the worlds together by his will, but behold him stumble on the way to calvary! I am excited, friends, that Jesus is God, but I am also excited that he is man.

Do you think that you would have recognized him just by looking? Could you have spotted him in a crowd? I think not. He was too ordinary. If you still think that you would have been able, then I propose a test. Go to your church nursery this Sunday and look at all those precious babies and see if you can pick out the next great pastor or evangelist or author or Christian. Then go to to where the toddlers are being taught and see if you find greatness there. Or observe the teenager who serves you fries with your burger or sacks your groceries. Can you see glory there? Or do you overlook them because they are ordinary and familiar? Do not underestimate the "ordinary" man, for from such stock God saved the world.

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).

1 comment:

Brian said...

Great stuff pastor. We were discussing the meager beginnings of our Lord, the man, in our life group this week. The world's wisdom would have us believe that Jesus needed to be flashy and flamboyant. God's wisdom gave us a savior that washed feet and ate with the scum of society. I am sure a way you could recognize Jesus, once he began his ministry, was by all of the people following him wanting to see a sign or a free meal. Jesus puts beauty in the ordinary.