5 things you might not know about Jesus
What you don't know about the life of Christ may surprise you.
Jesus is the most famous person who has ever lived. More lyrics have been penned about him; more pictures drawn of him than anyone throughout history. Put simply, Jesus' influence makes Justin Bieber and Oprah Winfrey look like nobodies. H.G. Wells, himself not a believer, once said, 'this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very centre of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure of all time.'
Given his fame, I'm guessing you've heard of Jesus. Yet, there still remains so much misunderstanding around who exactly Jesus was. Here's 5 things you might not know about Jesus:
1. Jesus wasn't always meek and mild
It's common to be presented with a Jesus who has light cascading locks of hair, dressed in a bleached white garment, holding a spotless little lamb, looking like he's just starred in a moisturiser commercial.
In actual fact, Jesus was hardly 'meek and mild' as pop culture would suggest. To be sure, for all those who feel the weight of their sin, and the depravity of their independence, Jesus offers grace, mercy, forgiveness and comfort. Yet, in his zeal for the glory of God, Jesus did a few outrageous things. Here's a selection:
- He made a whip, overturned tables and drove away those profiteering in the temple (Jn 2:13-22).
- He called the religious leaders of the day 'children of hell', 'blind guides' and a 'brood of vipers' (Matt. 23).
- He called his own disciple the worst name possible, saying to Peter, 'get behind me, Satan!' (Matt. 16:23).
Jesus was not just Mr. Nice Guy, but rather a determined, assured, driven leader of strength and humility. He showed his strength in many ways:
- He held fast to the truth.
- He stood up to the hypocritical Pharisees, and stood for those in society who couldn't stand themselves.
- He remained courageous and faithful to his mission, even in the face of mocking and brutal persecution.
- He endured crucifixion, took our death and defeated death by rising in victory.
2. Jesus hung around the red light district
These days, you're most likely to find a picture of Jesus in church - in a stained-glass window, on a felt mural or a patchwork quilt. When he was here on earth, you were more likely to find Jesus hanging around those who the world sees as most avoidable.
- Jesus shared the truth of the gospel with prostitutes (Matt. 21:31).
- He received gifts from 'sinful' women (Lk. 7:37).
- He had dinner with fraudulent, lying tax men (Lk. 19:1-10).
- He chatted and shared a drink with a promiscuous woman (John 4).
- He defended a woman caught in adultery (John 8).
Jesus came to 'seek and save the lost', so it was to the lost that he went.
By no means did Jesus approve of the conduct of those he mingled with. Rather, Jesus was present with them in order to call them to a better way - to himself. Jesus came to 'proclaim liberty to captives', even those captive to their own sin. It was his mission that compelled him to disregard common social practice and hang with those of low social status. Jesus was about the glory of God, so he declared the gospel to those most ready to receive it - the broken, the downcast and those flailing under the weight of sin.
3. Jesus is demanding
I recently had lunch with a good mate of mine. In the course of our catch up, I asked him how his relationship with his new girlfriend was panning out. He replied, 'It's great! She's easy going, and not high maintenance at all!' The high value we place on easiness and our own comfortable ideals often leads us to think the same of Jesus. We can subconsciously think 'Jesus loves me, why wouldn't he want to use his superpowers so my life unfolds in the exact way I want?'
Unfortunately for life's ease, but fortunately for our joy, Jesus is high maintenance. He isn't into an 'on-again, off-again' type of relationship, no, rather, Jesus wants all of you. More than a weekly brunch date on Sunday morning, Jesus demands in Luke 9:23, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me'. This is a call for our whole lives to be offered to Jesus because he is better than life. A life lived for Jesus cannot be compartmentalised, Jesus wants your whole life.
4. Jesus isn't dead
There are many things that separate Jesus from other famous historical figures. One is that he isn't just a historical figure, but a present figure. Jesus is alive today. Certainly, Jesus no longer inhabits a human body on earth, but we can be sure he lives today because when clothed in his human body, he rose from the dead (Luke 24:6).
Unlike many historical figures, the tomb of Jesus isn't venerated and visited by his followers year on year. This is because his tomb has been rendered insignificant. Jesus spent two nights in that tomb and walked out of it one Sunday morning two thousand years ago. In doing so, Jesus triumphed over death, over sin that leads to death, and over Satan who will one day be destroyed. Jesus is no longer dead, having conquered death with his death, a death in our place for our sin. Jesus now sits at the right hand of God the Father (Mark 16:19) praying for his people (Rom. 8:34).
5. Jesus will judge you
'Judge not, that you not be judged' (Matt. 7:1) is one of today's most quoted sayings of Jesus. Unfortunately it's one of the most misused as well. While the first sentence is popular, what follows from the quote is often overlooked - that each of us is hypocritical and in great need of self-assessment. We should constantly be on the lookout for sin within ourselves. that we might be conformed to the law of God, and the character of Christ.
When wielding this quote, we most often use it as a 'get out of jail free' card for recent wrongs we've done. It's a shield we put up for protection from questions about our morality. Yet, while busily protecting ourselves from the opinions of people, we fail to remember that there is a true, just Judge in heaven.
While people cannot determine our eternal destiny, Someone will. We will all stand before God one day, and the message of Jesus is that if judgement is going to go well, we need to believe in him.
Jesus is the only way for the 'logs' and 'specks' of judgement in our own eyes to be paid for. Jesus has made it possible for sinners like you and I to be reconciled with God. Jesus will judge us, and it will be on whether we believe he is who he says he is. That is not something I want to misunderstand.