The Evangelical World is famous for that distorting practice of “cutting and pasting” bible verses to prove a doctrine or make an argument. The original evangelists of the christian faith did not choose this path when presenting Jesus Christ. Instead, they chose the path of narrative. They presented the life of a person in free-flowing narrative. To the original Gospel writers this was the “person” and the “life” that changed human history.
And the life of this person cut acros the grain of convention at every turn. Just the other day I was reading through the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew. The life of Jesus is the radical entrance of God’s Kingdom into a world that is moving in the opposite direction (hence, the initial Gospel command to “repent” or “change direction” for the kingdom of God has come near).
God’s King should have been born to the aristocratic/ruling class. Who shapes society like the rich and powerful? Who can decree change like the King or Governor? Alas, but who can crush or oppress like a king or governor? Who can marginalize and abuse the lives of common people like the rich and ruling class? James makes this very point in his epistle. So, God’s King is born to poor working class parents. He comes into the world as most people do- in poverty and obscurity.
God’s King should have been born in a royal palace with official messengers spreading the News to all of the communities under the jurisdiction of the king. Instead, God’s King is born in a barn or cave, and not in luxury. Shepherds, not diplomats, are called to witness his birth. Astrologers, not theologians, are the ones who recognize the magnitude of this obscure birth. And the King himself will be the one who goes into the towns and villagers to declare his kingdom and touch those who are his brothers and sisters.
Jesus should have studied under a Rabbi and mastered the realm of ideas. Instead he took up the tools of a carpenter and worked with his hands. He did not build empty philosophies. He built and repaired that which could be used in a practical way by his neighbors and family. What a precursor to the ministry of a man whose message would be so practical and beneficial to those who would receive him and his craft.
A smart politician would do his best to build a bulwark of support from the rich, influential, and powerful. Jesus brought a message that cut to the heart of what it means to have power, and did not seek to lessen the blow of his words. In his sermon on the mount he blesses those the world (even the religious world of his time) considered cursed. And he curses those that the world considers blessed.
He is the people’s king. The savior of the world. The initiator of God’s Kingdom on earth. The one who sets all things right.