As is

1 John 2:1-6
One of the common refrains you might hear in Bible study has to do with why people rejected Jesus.

He taught with authority and displayed many miracles. Still, many people did not follow him. So much of his ministry illustrated he was God’s anointed one, the messiah. People expected the messiah to come, yes, but a certain kind of messiahship. People turned from Jesus, we often hear, because he didn’t fit their expectations.

The people of God wanted a military hero. They were waiting for someone to supplant Rome’s power. Of course, we can see that play out in several scenes from the ministry of Jesus. His own disciples couldn’t wrap their minds around the kind of king Jesus implied he was. Remember the day everyone waved palm branches as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey? Were they expecting him to make his way to Caesar’s throne?

I imagine some people did. Many, perhaps. But that wasn’t the only leading presumption about who Jesus should have been. There was no one thing everyone agreed Messiah would do or be.

That is true, even today. People still have different ideas about who Jesus is and how that impacts who we are.

There’s an image of Jesus you may have seen online. He is on a cross. You don’t see many scars or a lot of blood. There is a small crown of thorns and a towel wrapped around his midsection. That’s all fairly typical. What catches your attention is his physique. Jesus has great abs and twenty-four inch biceps. Instead of scars, you can see his veins. As he’s flexing, he’s broken the horizontal cross beam. That’s how strong he is.

He’s not in pain. You can tell by his gaze toward heaven. The nail in his foot doesn’t even seem to bother him.

Sure, Jesus could’ve been the Hulk Hogan of the ancient world. It’s more likely, though, a lot of us want to see him that way. For us, power and strength come in the form of such images. And there are many more like it. There was a whole movement based on such principles called “muscular Christianity.” While I’ll assume the idea came from a faithful desire, it sure sounds familiar. Like we’ll make Jesus look like whatever we need him to look like so we’re comfortable with him. In other words, as is, he doesn’t fit our expectation.

That makes John’s word all the more relevant to us. “Whoever says, ‘I abide in him,’ ought to walk just as he walked.” Not by how we wish he would’ve walked. Or with whom we wish he walked. Part of our discipleship is leaving our expectations at the cross. If not, we’re trying to get Jesus to do what we want. Jesus is either enough as is, or we’re creating him in our own image.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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