This past year, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, we were singing a hymn in worship and I noticed that the first verse was about angels announcing the birth of Christ. The very next verse was how Christ came to earth to die so could live forever. I thought, “This captures the whole of the Gospel…” if you are a Christmas and Easter kind of Christian. What happened to the Life of Jesus? Why do we not sing about it? Then we sang two more that did that same pivot.
WHAT RHYMES WITH FISHES?
It got me to thinking, why do we not sing hymns about the life Jesus lived? Maybe it is because loaves and fishes are hard words to rhyme with or maybe we have just lost something important. Could we really be that shallow, that we can only see the Jesus story for what benefit we get out of it? Have we flattened the life of Jesus into a cute story about lowing cattle and wise men following a star and then move right to the implications of Jesus death for our salvation?
A WITNESS TO THE TRUTH
I believe that Jesus’ life, was far more instructive than either His birth, or His death. In his life he showed us how to love, and how to live. My favorite of Jesus’ parables are the ones that take the most effort to figure out. They teach us much about the new way of life Jesus came to announce. Even Jewish scholars who don’t believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah, think he was a remarkable person and teacher. In John’s Gospel, Jesus tells Pontius Pilate that, “He came to bear witness to the truth.” Bearing a good witness is best done by a life will lived.
One of the great things about Jesus that we might miss is how he taught through questions rather than just offering answers. Religious leaders were always trying to trap him in impossible situations. He somehow always found the right question to silence them and reveal their hidden motives. Did he realize that we need to figure out how to think rather than what to think? Jesus’ questions often did that. I learned from one of my mentors, that the Latin word for education is “educere.” It means to draw out or to lead out. Jesus was a master teacher in the many ways he posed good questions which drew out learning like drawing water from a well. What would sermons be like if we were more about questions than answers?
THE DUDE WAS ON TO SOMETHING
Another significant and unusual thing about Jesus’ life is that he lived a life of simplicity. There is no record of him owning a home or a donkey or so much as a bank account. Sometimes when I go into my garage, which is so full of stuff that I can’t even park my car, I think, “the dude was on to something.” I own so much stuff that I sometimes wonder if it really owns me. What would it be like to live a life were you depended upon the kindness of strangers just for survival? I guess it would radically put you in touch with God not to mention your neighbors.
READY FOR THE KINGDOM
Another amazing thing about Jesus is how he had compassion on people that everyone else had given up on. The best thinking of the day was that if you were blind or crippled or had been divorced and set aside it was because of some sin either you or your parents committed. Instead Jesus saw you as someone who was ready for the kingdom of God. He always seemed to know what people needed. His love knew no bounds. Weather you were a tax collector, a Samaritan, had mental illness or just an outcast, You were loved and included in his movement. His parables and stories turned the social order upside down. He even stood up to the powerful and confounded the scholars in their thinking. He washed peoples feet and even touched lepers all in all, showing us how to love. When we pass over the life and lessons of Jesus we miss the real point and thus the real benefit of knowing Him.