Spectacles Vs Reality: Who Was The Real Jesus?

Spectacles Vs Reality: Who Was The Real Jesus?


Something that many people misunderstand about the mass media is that it is not there to report on what happens to most of us most of the time. It is there to report on what is extreme or different or shocking or novel. So any assumption about the real world that is based only on what you read in the newspaper or what you see on YouTube, or for that matter, what you see in an encyclopedia or history book is not likely to be an accurate reflection of reality. Even in times of disaster and war, often the average person in that area is still relatively unaffected. Virtually all such records center on the spectacles of life and not the reality. Take a closed-circuit TV camera, for an example. It sits there all day, day after day, and year after year, recording what really happens in that little corner of the real world. It may be there for 20 years and never once see a robber, a rapist, or a killer walk by on his or her way to or from a crime. It may never even see a loud argument between two people. The camera is recording the real world, but no one will ever hear about it and the footage may even go unwatched for all those years unless something spectacular happens within its view range. Now, that’s the difference between reality and the spectacles of life. This same phenomena occurs when people read the Bible. The Apostle John states, at the end of his account of the life and teachings of Jesus that the world itself probably would not contain everything that could be said about everything that Jesus did. And one of the reasons for that is simply that much of it would be too boring. While many events and teachings in the life of Christ are mentioned two, three, and four times most of what he said and did from day to day is totally unknown. We know virtually nothing about what happened during the first 30 years of Jesus’ life apart from his birth and that one trip to the temple when he was 12 years old. Even for the three and a half years that Jesus ministered publicly there are surprisingly few stories featured in the four Gospels. Three and a half years is more than 1,250 days yet everything that we read in the four Gospels could be summed up in events that occurred on roughly of 100 of those days. The Holy Spirit brought to the remembrance of the four evangelists certain special events. What we have in the four Gospels are the highlights and if we look more closely at them, we can see that there are some things even in what is reported that we overlook. Why? Because it’s still not spectacular enough for us to take notice. None of the Gospel writers reported about a day when Jesus and his disciples decided to sleep in, after a busy night the day before or a time when Jesus went over the budget with Judas or a time when they had to go pick up a secondhand robe that had been offered to Thaddeus by one of his relatives. It says nothing about Jesus going into a synagogue somewhere to study some of the Old Testament writings. I’m going to try to illustrate what I’ve just said with these squares. Each square represents one day of Jesus’ life during those three and a half years when he ministered publicly. Out of all those days, we hear about things that happened on 100 of them (represented by the colored-in squares) That’s not much more than two days every month. Can you see how what we have in the Bible are really just the highlights of Jesus’ life and teachings? It’s very possible that what he did most days may have been rather humdrum by comparison since the four Gospel writers tend to double up and triple up on the same events and the same teachings once it stood out as pretty spectacular. Can you see that? Obviously, what we do know includes some really incredible teachings as well as some really incredible actions. So I’m not trying to take away from that, but I want us to get a feel for how it may have been to be one of his first disciples even when he was right there in front of them in the flesh walking on the water, cursing fig trees, or even raising Lazarus from the dead. It would have been so easy to think, “Well Jesus, you raised Lazarus yesterday. What are you gonna do today?” And if he said, “Oh, I think today we’ll just help this old lady tidy up her house a bit” it wouldn’t take many days like that before you might start feeling a little jaded. Maybe you’d even start thinking that the miracle with Lazarus was just a lucky fluke. Now, all of what I’m saying here is just an introduction to a Bible study on the 4th chapter of Luke’s Gospel. In the first few verses of that chapter, Jesus is led into the wilderness where he fasts for 40 days and he is tempted by the devil. It’s about the first mention we have of Jesus after his childhood and it happens when he’s about thirty years old. I’ve covered the temptation of Christ in another video, but today I want to look at the rest of the chapter kind of a summary of what may have covered a full month after his fast finished. It starts with verse 14. “Jesus returned in the power of the spirit into Galilee “and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.” Apparently a lot of people heard about Jesus over those first few weeks after his temptation in the wilderness. Now, the final temptation, remember, had been to do a miracle to get the attention of the people and Jesus had rejected that. Nevertheless, the public saw something that Luke called the power of the Spirit in Jesus, and this alone was enough to make them take notice and talk about this strange man. Now, we just naturally assume that the power of the Spirit means he did miracles. Such assumptions are almost universal. We picture him more or less walking into the marketplace finding everyone too busy to listen, so he says something like, “Hey! Everyone listen up! “I’m gonna heal someone, and when I do, I want you to take notice, so that you’ll listen to what I have to say. “I’m not just another preacher, you see. I’m a miracle worker. I’m the Son of God. Just watch me! “Okay, lame man, stand up! Stand up and walk!” And then of course the people in the marketplace break into applause. They push forward to see more. Maybe he does two or three more miracles, and then he starts preaching…and boy, do they listen whether they understand what he’s saying or not. And why do they listen? Well, because he did miracles. But it doesn’t say that here, does it? And it doesn’t happen like that in the real world. People do not discover faith by witnessing a genuine miracle. Real faith is something deeper than that. Let’s read the next verse for a clue. Verse 15: “He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.” He taught something, and they were impressed! Must have been pretty good for his fame to have spread all over the region. Probably something radically different to what run-of-the-mill rabbis were saying. And then he goes to his hometown. In verse 16 we read, “He came to Nazareth where he had been brought up. “And as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up for to read.” “As his custom was”…so this was a regular thing for Jesus going to the synagogue on the Sabbath and reading from the scrolls that were kept there. Let’s read on from verse 17. “There was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Isaiah.” Notice that they chose which book they wanted him to read from. But it does seem like he was able to choose which part of the book he wanted to read. “When he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written “‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. “‘He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives “‘and recovering of sight to the blind. “‘To set at liberty them that are bruised. “‘To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.’ “And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister and he sat down. “and the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.” See, no sermon. He just read the book. Remember, his fame had spread all over the region. There was something about this man that moved people deeply, but now he was in his hometown amongst his relatives and old friends. They had heard that people everywhere were starting to think there was something special about Jesus but he wasn’t all that special to them. And here, I want to make a very important point. The point that this whole video is trying to teach. Real faith in the real world is not all fireworks and magic carpet rides. When you grow up next door to the Son of God, you don’t see him as a miracle worker. The real Jesus almost certainly messed his diapers when he was little. He probably fell down occasionally when he was learning to walk. Maybe he even misunderstood things occasionally when people were talking to him. Maybe he wasn’t all that good at soccer, or he had pimples. Now, if you’re one of those who insists that Jesus did not have to learn obedience to the things that he suffered as I’ve been suggesting here, and as the Bible teaches then it may be just as reasonable to argue that his neighbors hated him because he was so much of a know-it-all or because he showed no fear at all about what people thought. The main point I want to make is that a real, flesh and blood human Jesus was very likely just..well, ordinary. John, in one of his epistles, says, “Whoever denies that Jesus came in the flesh, is Antichrist.” We’re so used to declaring people heretics when they refuse to recognize the divinity of Christ but this passage gives us grounds for declaring them Antichrist if they deny his humanity as well. We need to get the whole picture, and the whole picture is more than just the spectacle as popular as a spectacle may be. Now, the passage says that every eye in the synagogue was fixed on Jesus the Jesus who had just read a passage from the Bible which appeared to be predicting a year when God was going to send his Messiah…his Anointed One. This Christ, according to the passage Jesus just read, was going to find his followers amongst the poor the heartbroken, prisoners and handicapped people. That description was contrary to the spectacle they had all been waiting for. They wanted a sensational, conquering, dominating leader who would tell the world that they were the chosen people destined to tell the rest of the world how to live. But Jesus was saying that their promised Messiah was going to identify more with the fringe dwellers the dropouts of society. And then what does he do? He turns to the crowd and he says, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” Now, that’s different. That would have caught their attention, if not their admiration. And it did. Luke says that they wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. I’m assuming by ‘gracious’, it means that he was not bombastic. He was humble. Just stating something that should have been clear to them all along. And it says that they ‘wondered’. Now, don’t confuse this word with the adjective ‘wonderful’, which means something’s very good. No, this is ‘wonder’ the verb, and it can be defined as feeling doubt. There was a lot of skepticism in that room. “I wonder…does he really think that he’s the Messiah?” They express it in verse 22. “Is not this Joseph’s son?” You see what I’m saying? These are people who have had more reality than they’ve had spectacle. Jesus knows that, but he doesn’t give in. He more or less reads their minds. They’re wanting a spectacle. Something to convince them that he really is the Messiah. And he responds by saying no. No, he’s not going to give them a spectacle. He gives two illustrations from the Old Testament instead. “While a great famine spread over the land, the prophet Elijah only helped one widow. “The rest were left to starve.” Second illustration: “There were many lepers in Israel when Elijah’s replacement, Elisha chose to heal one: a foreigner, while the others stayed lepers. We don’t like to hear that, do we? You know, we want everybody to get healed (and especially ourselves). So you won’t hear many sermons about what Jesus just said in those two verses. We’re all drawn down to the end of the chapter to verse 40 where it says “When the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto Him; and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them.” Okay, so that’s one evening in our one month account of the life and teachings of Jesus. But it’s the one evening they’ll all focus on and assume happens every day. The world has been flooded with preachers over the past hundred years all telling us that verse 40 is the only verse in the whole chapter. Everyone is going to be healed! In fact, you don’t even need to listen to Jesus now…his teachings don’t matter. All you need is enough faith to claim a miracle, and it’ll happen. Listen to them: “Your body has been redeemed.” Some went so far as to teach said if you believe hard enough, you’ll never die and they had proof texts for all of it. The problem is that they were wrong. We don’t all get healed, do we? That’s more like what Jesus said to his friends and neighbors in Nazareth in this present adulterous and sinful generation. Only one gets healed; the rest die. In fact it the Nazarenes very nearly preempted the sacrificial death of Jesus right there on that day dragging him out to the edge of town, where they were going to throw him over the cliff. But somehow, he managed to distract them long enough to run forward and escape. Now, we love the stories about multitudes listening quietly at the feet of Jesus but much of his life was spent actually hiding from some of these same people. Right at the end of the second chapter of John’s Gospel John gives a very common human account of what happened when Jesus did some miracles in Jerusalem. He says that many people believed in Jesus when they saw the miracles that he did. Well, that seems to be saying just the opposite of what I’ve been saying, doesn’t it? But read on, in verses 24 and 25, he says “But Jesus did not commit himself to them, because he knew people everywhere “and he did not need anyone to tell him about people, for he knew what was in them.” Do you see what I’m saying? Do you see what John was saying? And most important: do you understand what Jesus was saying? Sure, he lets us see and hear about the odd spectacle but it’s not really what it came for; he came to teach us. Jesus left Nazareth fleeing for his life, and he came to Capernaum where it says, in verse 31 “He taught them on the Sabbath days.” No miracles there either, but people were slightly more receptive. It goes on to say, in verse 32, that they were astonished at his doctrine. ‘Doctrine’ means teaching. They were astonished at his teaching. And it says, “For his word was with power.” And believe me his word continues to have power today, if anyone will just stop and listen. All those people who so hate this YouTube channel are reacting to what? To me? No, they’re not reacting to me. They’re reacting to the power in the teachings of Jesus, for his teachings have power. It’s our primary purpose for existing to make known the teachings of Jesus and to make it clear that what you have been listening to in churches around the world for all your life has not been the teachings of Jesus. Churches everywhere lack power. They’re every bit as dead as the self-righteous Pharisees were in Jesus’ day and it’s all because they have rejected the Cornerstone. They have shut Jesus out of their mausoleums. They neither teach obedience to Jesus nor tolerate anyone else teaching obedience to Jesus. Listen to them. I can hear them now, as Jesus heard them then. They’re crying out with a loud voice. “Let us alone! What have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?” And then, to reassure themselves that they really are the gatekeepers of the Kingdom of Heaven, they say with the same devils who spoke in the synagogue when Jesus was here on earth “Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Lord”, and make all their empty theological statements about Jesus at the same time that they drive him out of their synagogues…amazing, isn’t it? And with Jesus, I’m here to say the same thing. I’m here to tell the heretical, lying spirits who fight against Jesus and all that he taught “Just shut up and go back to Hell where you belong!” This is what people remembered when they saw Jesus and I pray by God’s grace it may be what they remember from this channel. As the chapter finishes, Jesus is rebuking more spectacle seekers with their great theological claims about Jesus being the Son of God. He can see through all their empty praise to what lies at the heart of their opposition. And then Jesus leaves. He says, “I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also, for this is the reason why I was sent.” Do you hear that? Sure, he came to die for our sins but he also came to teach us about the kingdom of God this wonderful new world where God pays the bills if you just work for him. And the story ends with Jesus preaching in the synagogues of Galilee. Oh, if only we could get a few churches that let him do that today! But sadly, this is a far more adulterous and sinful generation than Jesus ever had to deal with. They will not stop until they have hunted us down and driven us out of their towns but he promised that there will always be other towns to which we can flee and we can take his message of the kingdom of heaven out on the streets as we prepare for the return of our King. Amen? And amen!

Dereck Turner

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