Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor
There are certain things that we are definitely told about the man named Jesus that have been reaffirmed throughout the ages. Jesus was born to a poor family in a not so popular town. Jesus was not white and born in the Middle East. Jesus was born into a Jewish family and grew up to be a Jewish Rabbi, well versed in Jewish teaching and Jewish culture. Jesus was born to a teenage unwed mom, under an oppressive government. And when Jesus grew up, he was killed with other criminals in a not so popular way. Oh yeah, and he accumulated some followers.
There are some other things that our story tells us that we think we know about this man. Jesus told parables and made people think in an upside down way. Jesus taught from tradition but continually reclaimed love and working with the poor. He ate with the wrong people and was homeless. Jesus was extremely close to God and in fact, later on, people would say that he was/is God.
Jesus had human moments too. He got angry and exhausted and still seemed to heal, love and care. Jesus did not ride onto the scene in warrior fashion or move up the political ladder, but he did speak out for the immigrant, homeless, and the underdogs. Later, he wouldn’t even be recognized by his own followers until breaking bread.
All of this is to figure out if Jesus would be a Christian in the US today. This is a tough question since this time and place is so different to where Jesus came from. Or is it? While God continually changes, the story still seems relevant today. We still bicker about who is greatest and Jesus somehow still reappears to put us in our place. Would we, his followers recognize him? Would he be Christian? I am not sure…he never was to begin with.
If Jesus were around (and as Christians we believe that he is around through the resurrection piece), he would still highlight the poor, the immigrant, the homeless, the hungry, the naked and the sick. I am convinced that he would still represent the underdog and wouldn’t ride in with power or wealth but representing love. So perhaps that were we need to be looking, those places where love reigns over power.
Our scriptures today remind us that Jesus (or the one who is to come) is still represented in our servanthood. While we might wonder where Jesus would appear, he blatantly tells us that it is in being a servant that Jesus continues ministry. This means that Jesus could be Christian or maybe not, and maybe it doesn’t matter as long as we treat each other with a servant’s heart in constant communication with God.
Quotes for the Week
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
“I want Jesus to come back and say ‘THATS NOT WHAT I MEANT'” -” ― Margaret Cho
“Christianity is at its best when it is peculiar, marginalized, suffering, and it is at its worst when it is popular, credible, triumphal, and powerful.” ― Shane Claiborne, Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals
“What year did Jesus think it was?” ― George Carlin
Isaiah 53:4-12 (NRSV)
Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent
so he did not open his mouth.
By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people.
They made his grave with the wicked
and his tomb with the rich,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
When you make his life an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
Out of his anguish he shall see light;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out himself to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
Mark 10:35-45 (Message)
James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came up to him. “Teacher, we have something we want you to do for us.” “What is it? I’ll see what I can do.”
“Arrange it,” they said, “so that we will be awarded the highest places of honor in your glory—one of us at your right, the other at your left.”
Jesus said, “You have no idea what you’re asking. Are you capable of drinking the cup I drink, of being baptized in the baptism I’m about to be plunged into?” “Sure,” they said. “Why not?”
Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you will drink the cup I drink, and be baptized in my baptism. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. There are other arrangements for that.”
When the other ten heard of this conversation, they lost their tempers with James and John. Jesus got them together to settle things down. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.”
Questions for the Week
Do you think Jesus would be Christian today?
Where would he surprise us and challenge us?