Nice Jewish Boy

Still talking about love!

God’s intention, at least part of the end game of God’s love perfected in us, is that we give it out. Like he does.

Nothing that I say on this blog should be contrued as “God’s love ends with me.” God loves me as much as he does anyone else; of that I am convinced. And he loves you as much as he does me; of that I am equally convinced! And he wants me to imitate him and love you too, whoever you are.

But, sometimes, that is the fullness of what we think perfected love is. And I think in that we are wrong. And that is what this journey, this chase for truth, is about. Normally, I would take this journey alone, and tell you about it afterward. But not this time. This time I’m asking you to go on it with me. I’m trusting you, I guess, to be open-minded and open-hearted and to love the truth enough–trust The Truth enough–to turn over stones, piece together puzzles, and look beyond the trees to see the forest.

Today, though, let’s just look at what Love looked like when he walked among us in shoes like ours.

I was intrigued to read in Luke’s account of Jesus’ early life that Jesus, before he was twelve, “grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). 

Jesus was a nice Jewish boy. Wise for one so young; unusually gracious and kind for a boy of his age.

After the age of twelve, after that day when he stayed behind in the temple to talk with the priests, when he should have been with the company heading back home after the Feast of the Passover, it says of Jesus that he “went down with them to Nazareth and was obedient to [his parents]…and increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:51-52).

The nice Jewish boy grew up. His wisdom in all situations, his kindness to all he met, his unfailing integrity, and perhaps even his work ethic gave him great favor with his community. They just loved him! And respected him. And would do pretty much anything for him.

Just a nice Jewish man!

And then came the baptism and the affirmation: “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased!”

And then came the temptation and the challenge: “If you really are who he said you are, do this!”

Jesus overcame the temptations, all of them. But he was never the same after he knew, after his Father confirmed, who he really was.

He still loved, but loved enough to tell them the truth: “See what the scripture says here? That’s me it’s talking about. I am here to do this.” I wonder if he thought they would embrace that truth, or did he know…?

But the nice Jewish man was suddenly crazy. Or so his community thought; and even his family thought. Even his mother who had kept all those things the angel said — and all those things she saw — in her heart and pondered them. Even she was concerned about him.

But he was still loving them, and still wise, in all the disturbing things he said and did. They just didn’t know it.

So what am I saying?

Perhaps just giving a challenge to never forget what love looked like in Jesus, when he came fully into his ministry. To remember what came from his heart then. To assess what we think his love looks like now.

That’s all.