Jesus Kept Raising The Bar

Imagine you are a first-century Jewish common person. From Galilee, the “hillbilly” of the country. You’re listening to a new guy preach. You’ve heard rabbis and self-proclaimed rabbis speak before.

But this guy is different. His name is Joshua, same as the guy who conquered the Holy Land. (In Greek, which they spoke but didn’t use except for trade, Jesus.)

His talks turned the power relationships upside down. He brought forward the poor and disenfranchised. He poked at the rich and powerful–Romans and especially Pharisees.

Then he reinterpreted the Law and raised the bar. He raised it so high that even those self-righteous Pharisees couldn’t make it.

John preached righteousness and repentance. But this Jesus dude–he took it to a whole different level.

There was no way anyone could make it except by God’s grace.

I guess that was the point.

No wonder those first-century listeners followed him. He also backed it up by healing those who came to him.

So how does all that impact our spiritual formation and disciplines today? Does it still seem so impossible? Or, have we heard the story so many times that we lose the wonder and mystery?

I’m going back and reading just Jesus’ words. Not the stories or interludes. What did he say?

Then I try to put on new eyes and see the text new. What would I think if I were sitting on that hillside on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee? Seeing this guy for the first time? Not knowing what would happen in just three years.

Could he topple governments? Put those snooty people who think they are so great in their place?

Certainly he was feeding the spiritual hunger that had grown so much at this time.

Messiah (in Greek, Christ; in English, anointed one of God)? What did that really mean?

He certainly gave us something to think about as we walked home afterwards.

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