Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. Mark 6, verses 1-6.
Yesterday at work we were having a discussion about Jesus; yes you heard me right: at work. I was talking with a co-worker who had read “Zealot: the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.” I haven’t read the book; only synopses of it. It’s written by a Muslim author who (according to Wikipedia) “argues that Jesus was a political, rebellious and eschatological Jew whose proclamation of the coming kingdom of God was a call for regime change, for ending Roman hegemony over Israel and ending a corrupt and oppressive aristocratic priesthood.” It actually sounds like a set of good points, though the author misses the primary purpose of Jesus and His ministry. But the point made by the various synopses (and by my friend) was that, while Jesus was many things, one thing that He could definitely be called was “radical.”
“Radical” is also the title of a book by David Platt. In it, Platt argues for radically re-thinking the church’s approach to ministry because the founder of the church was a radical. Jesus lived radically, called on His followers to do things that, in first century Judea, were radical. Love your neighbor; take up your cross and follow Me; to gain your life you must lose it; hate evil and love God: these were radical ideas shared by God Immanuel who had instituted a confrontational, conventional-wisdom-on-its-head ministry to bring many sons to glory.
Glory: glory to God His Father was why Jesus left the land of the Gerasenes and went home. He went back to His hometown where (just like at Cheers) everybody knows your name. The people of Jesus had known Him when He was nobody, when He was only Mary and Joseph’s son, when He was a growing boy and an awkward teenager, when He attended the synagogue every week. This time, however, Jesus sat and listened to the town elders talk…and then He began to teach. He began to teach with radical words that they had never heard. He taught them in words and ways that left them amazed, hungering for more. They had heard about His exploits, the crowds, and the miracles, and now He was back home, teaching in their midst, teaching them about the glory of God the Father by opening their hearts to His wisdom and love.
Flash forward two millennia: what’s your experience with Jesus? Are you amazed by Him? Are you skeptical, questioning, maybe ignorant about Him? Are you threatened by the radical or comforted by the lover of your heart? Would you be one of the folks who sees Jesus as a radical and a political instigator? Or would you be someone who sees Him as the source of love, the fount of all life because God is the source of life and God is love and God gave us life to live and love Him in?
You know there’s no wrong answer. All of them are correct. Jesus was a zealot, and a radical, and a herald of glory, and all love. Those reasons and more were why He went home: to share with the people He knew best the message that eternity truly does matter most. Try talking about that at work today.
Lord, I am thankful You’re all You are, that You are in my life to share Your radical glorious love.
Read Mark 6, verses 1-6