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Wild Kingdom

Click here to read Luke 23 on BibleGateway.com

When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. – Luke 23:8

Have you ever noticed how less enjoyable things are when you lose control?  A bonfire is a great thing, but if it starts the lawn on fire, it might cost you more than a burnt smore.  Driving down the country road at 70 mph with your friends is fun; driving down the country road at 70 mph with your friends and no brakes is troubling.  Drinking a glass of water is refreshing; being forced to drink a swimming pool because your older brother is “playing,” less refresh, more panicky.  We like our excitement, as long as we can end it whenever we want.

We often approach God the same way.  We like God the Creator, speaking the universe into existence ex nihilo. We try to avoid God the Flooder, ending the world ex watero. We like God the Righteous when he’s punishing our enemies; we are a little more pouty with God the Just when he disciplines us.  We sing songs about God in a manger, but there aren’t a lot of songs about God the sender of boils.

RINGMASTER HEROD

When King Herod heard that Jesus was coming for a visit, he was pretty excited.  A chance to see the man that was causing such a ruckus. Maybe he would create food out of thin air (or better yet, maybe some gold like that thing he did that time with the fish). Maybe turn some water into wine, or walk across the fortress swimming pool. Maybe he would do some fortune telling.  Something to while away the afternoon as Herod and his posse were chillin’ around the palace.

Herod’s approach is like a lot of us  – we love the idea of a powerful Jesus, as long as he’s on stage and healing/prophecy/miracling a good safe distance away.  We like seeing a bear in the circus, but not near our tents.  How many times have you heard someone say “If God did more miracles, more people would believe in Him.”  Isn’t that exactly what Herod was doing?  Do some miracles, and we’ll set you free.  Impress me, and I’ll believe that you are a king.  Dance for me Jesus, and I’ll be sure to try harder to not sin this week.

WILD KINGDOM

But that’s not the Jesus of the New Testament.  Are we really willing to follow that kind of Jesus? The one that tells a woman that she and her daughter are dogs (which he does)?  The one who repeatedly asks the disciples why they’re such idiots (even though they are)? The one that calls the king (yes, the same one who wants him to perform) a worthless pile of carbon?

Can we read through the Bible, see Jesus at his majestic, unstoppable, direct, and challenging best, and still choose to follow him?  Are we more comfortable with a standardized “modern” Jesus; who loves and never judges, who answers our requests but demands little faith; who meets us on Sunday between 10 and 12, and is gentlemanly enough to leave us alone the rest of the week?  We want Gentle Ben, and Jesus comes as a wild grizzly.  Powerful, unpredictable, and awesome.  In the immortal words of CS Lewis – He’s good, but certainly not safe.

Are you willing to step into the wild and meet that kind of Jesus?

 

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