Jesus as…

Today, we’ll take a look at three more “pictures” that Moltmann points out regarding Jesus and the Gospels.  Again, we’ll look at what Jesus meant by “kingdom” in Matthew 6:10.

1.  Perhaps you picture Jesus primarily as a healer.

Later in the New Testament, Paul describes those who need God as being “sinners”.  However, in the Gospels, Jesus deals with the “sick”.  Mark 1:32 reads, That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons.  Moltmann argues, Jesus heals, giving a preview of what God has in mind for the future.   The healings were not just realized in the physical sense.  The bigger healing took place in people’s spirit.  This is the kingdom in the flesh.

The tendency for those of us far removed (at least by time) from Jesus is to begin to see the healing accounts in the Gospels as fairy tales.  People who live with chronic pain or disease would surely love for Jesus to show up in the physical, say a few words or touch them, and heal their bodies.  But what if that doesn’t happen?  And isn’t the bigger issue more than physical healing?  In other words, the purpose that Jesus healed was not just for the physical.  The bigger issue was ushering in the kingdom of God in the spiritual.

Let me give an example.  A young boy is brought to the disciples of Jesus.  He needs healing but Jesus is being transfigured before Peter, James, and John.  Upon their return, the four see a commotion and inquire as to what it’s about.  The disciples were unable to heal the boy.  Hear what Jesus had to say.  O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you?  How long am I to bear with you?  Bring him to me.  Mark 9:19 (ESV)  The account ends with Jesus healing the boy and the father pleading for increased faith.  Jesus encourages his followers to be people of prayer.

While reading that account, often I’m reminded of John 15:1-5.  I won’t take space to record it here with the exception of …apart from me (Jesus) you can do nothing.  In summary, Jesus healed for a much greater issue than a physical aspect.  And faith has a tremendous role in healing.  The kingdom of God is found in the restoration of Jesus.

2.  Option #2 today is picturing Jesus primarily as a friend.

Jesus spoke against injustice.  He lobbied for those at the proverbial bottom of society.  He said Himself, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven Matt 5:3 (ESV)  He ate with sinners and tax collectors, while being chastised by the religious.  When one has been cast out of society, the last thing he expects is love and acceptance.  And yet that is exactly what Jesus provided.  Moltmann summarizes this way:  “When Jesus receives sinners and eats with them, for the good people he is either a sinner himself, or a revolutionary who is disrupting society’s system of values.  But by ‘justifying’ sinners he saves the good and the just too, because he liberates them from their self-righteousness.”  Maybe this is your picture of Jesus.  Or maybe you’d go with choice #3.

3.   Jesus is pictured as being specifically for those who can’t help themselves.

This picture of Jesus shows him interacting throughout the Gospels with the poor and children – those who can’t help themselves.  They must rely on society for their basic needs.  In the Ancient Near East, the poor would have nothing.  Old widows would find it hard to survive in a society built upon judging one another based on usefulness.  A widow has had her children.  Children are not yet able to work and make a living.  Therefore, this class of people are degraded, abused, and unloved.

Then Jesus shows up!  Jesus offers hope, love, and restoration.  “The poor are no longer the suffering objects of oppression and humiliation.  They are their own determining subjects, with the dignity of God’s first children.”   When people get their dignity back, great things can happen.  They no longer believe what society has said in the past.  But they know who they are, based upon what Jesus says.  Maybe you resonate with the poor and those unable.   Is this your primary picture of Jesus?

Can you relate to any of these?  Maybe your picture of Jesus changes as you face different challenges in life.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on what Moltmann has to say.  And more importantly, how do you perceive Jesus today?


4 Responses to “Jesus as…”

  1. Larry L. Says:

    Brother, I love this! I believe that Jesus is all-of-the above.. Since I have begun my new life with Christ, I look for Him to show up everywhere. When I have done all I can, I believe that Jesus suppplies the rest. As a new believer, I realize that Jesus is always there in all situations, and all I have to do is let Him in. I used to thik all of the good in my life came from my own hard work, now I know that jesus has been there all-along. Without His hand being stretch-out to me, nothing I can do will prevail.

    • You’re right Larry! Jesus IS all of the above. It’s just we identify with Him in different ways at different times in our lives. The danger is to just identify one way and forget the others.

      It’s good to allow God to have the authority He deserves…right? 🙂

  2. I was praying this morning and as I as “talking” – I started “thinking” … I thought: I sit here and I ask God to watch over my children, to protect us, to show me, to lead me, to heal, to give this person that, and a situation this…and I think… why do I ask God these things in prayer? I shrink God to my thinking; to be human like me.

    God, in all his infinite power.. I just cannot understand.. Except in my human thoughts – because that is all I know. God came in the flesh; he made himself, his miracles, his love for us.. Touchable. Jesus.

    And this Jesus…. He is not all about what he is going to do for me… but through me. If my life is truly clay, then Jesus can live in me and shape me into the form that He can use to “show up” … to show up in all the things that I pray about.

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