Jesus really knew how to “get the goat” of the religious and political authorities! Heal a man on Sunday – OMG! Touch a dead girl – horrifying, so unsanitary! Dine with prostitutes – sinful!
I don’t think Jesus set out to deliberately anger and antagonize the authorities. He was just going about modeling what it looks like to be a member of the kingdom of God. He was just doing the work of God. As he said in his inaugural sermon in the synagogue (Luke 4):
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me …he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor… proclaim release to the captives … recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free...
This is what it looks like when God’s kingdom comes near. Mark is breathless in the opening chapters of his gospel when he writes about Jesus’ presence: the kingdom of God has come near…” (Mark 1.14).
Those in power were consumed with staying in power. DON’T antagonize the power brokers – do anything you have to do to keep the Emperor happy. If you don’t it will likely cost you your position of influence. It will cost US our own place in society. Shut this man Jesus up before he blows it for us all.
Jesus family knew the risks he was taking by speaking publicly about the systemic wrongs of the Roman Empire. The Pax Romana may have meant peace, but at what cost? Military might brought against peaceful protestors. False imprisonment of dissenters. Enslavement of whole people groups. Tax policies that wrung the poor dry while enriching the powerful. But Jesus kept on keeping on doing the work of the kingdom of God.
When Jesus’ family heard what he was doing, they thought he was crazy and went to get him under control (Mark 3.21, CEV). One of my favorite commercials of the modern era is the one that launched Apple’s “Think Different” campaign:
Here’s to the Crazy Ones!
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you cannot do is ignore them.
But they are the ones who change the world!
In too many churches today, if a pastor preaches about feeding the poor, prison reform, health care for all, immigration reform, the elders of the church will tell her that she’s gone from preaching to meddling and that’s not what they signed up for. They just want to stay comfortable. Don’t even think of encroaching on their sense of place and power and influence. Those churches wouldn’t let Jesus in the front door.
We need Christians who are crazy for Jesus. Christians willing to rock the boat, upset the apple cart and force us to examine whether we are really doing the work of God’s kingdom.
Here’s to the crazy ones, those crazy for Jesus!