Jesus was baptized by a non-denominational preacher. “What does that say about him? What- our guys weren’t “good enough” to baptize him?”
He attended a wedding…and brought extra people with him. Who does this guy think he is? And then made more wine! Doesn’t he know that wine is the devil’s juice? Did he WANT them to get drunk? This guy isn’t fit for leadership.
He never attended our seminaries. He’s not ordained by anyone we know- doesn’t even have ordination papers. Yet he claims to be a Pastor? We believe it would be best to avoid his so-called “ministry.”
I heard he’s not even 501c3 certified. He’s paying taxes! Does he know what that might do to us if it catches on?
Jesus walks into a bakery and begins to preach. “If someone compels you to bake a cake for a gay wedding, bake two for the price of one!”
“But we don’t want to be approving of their sin” said one of the bakers.
“They didn’t ask for your approval. Nor do they need it. Just as the Romans, who were cruel oppressors, didn’t ask for approval for their rape, their torture and their conquering wars when they compelled Jews to walk a mile carrying their gear. Yet I told them to walk 2 miles. It’s not about approval. It’s about going the extra mile to serve.”
Jesus went to Samaria. The home of half-breeds who’d added Greek gods to the Jewish religion. The good religious folk were aghast that he’d go to such a place. Apparently, he doesn’t care about his reputation!
He spoke with a sinful, adulterous slut at the well. All by himself. He refused to avoid the appearance of evil. Instead, he told her about Messiah and didn’t spend time condemning her. He simply asked questions that revealed her sin and said, “You’re right. You’ve had plenty of husbands. And now you’re shacking up with someone else’s husband.” If he knows this…why is he hanging out with her?
And she went and told the village about him as though he were some kind of Messianic Savior. The whole village came out to meet him. And most of them decided to trust him as Savior. But just because someone makes a faith profession, it doesn’t justify talking to sinful women. Everyone knows that.
Jesus heads to a synagogue. He reads the scripture. And he’s not even dressed up. How dare he enter the “house of God” without dressing up? The religious leaders took issue with it. They said, “When people dress casual, they become casual in their worship of God.”
Jesus smiled at their tortured, legalistic logic. Nowhere in the scriptures could such teaching be found. “Y’know,” Jesus said, “Moses was told to take his sandals off when he was in the Presence of my Father. He became even more casual. Because…get this, Pharisees!…it’s not about the dress style. It’s about the heart. And if the heart isn’t right, you’re not dressed for worship. Regardless of what kind of fabric you have on your body.”
The religious leaders took offense. And to show that the loved God more than he did, they took up stones to kill him. But he walked right through the crowd and left them behind.
It was the Sabbath. And Jesus’s disciples cut the yard. And that really torqued the good religious folk. His answer? “Haven’t you read about David? He and his guys ate bread from the altar. And God didn’t strike them down. Because man was not made for the Sabbath. The Sabbath was made for man. And all your legalistic rules can’t change the fact that sometimes yardwork needs to be done.”
A Roman Centurion came to Jesus. He’d heard that Jesus could heal. And his servant lay dying. He begged Jesus to heal. And Jesus, knowing just how evil the Romans were. How many false gods they worshiped. How often they conquered and tortured and raped. Jesus just up and healed the servant. And even commended the man’s faith. Without confronting the man with his sin. What a missed opportunity! Several preachers penned an open letter to Jesus, asking him to step down from his ministry. Jesus couldn’t be reached at the time…he was busy at a party given by a tax collector and full of assorted sinners.
So the religious leaders decided he must demon-possessed.
Later, as he sat, he beheld a huge crowd standing, waiting for him to teach. So he did. He said, “You guys who are persecuted…you’re blessed with great reward…in heaven. You guys who are poor in spirit…you’re blessed with the Kingdom…of Heaven! You guys who thirst and hunger for righteousness…you’re blessed with being satisfied by my Father in heaven.” And on and on he went.
Blessing people without promising to change their circumstances. Without telling them how to have their best life today. A preacher in a stadium was upset and decided to redefine Christ’s words so that they sounded more like promises of “next level faith” than they actually were. Since this preacher only knew out-of-context verses, he’d never actually thought about the “stricter judgment” teachers have on them. But the day of reckoning was coming. And that big ole smile would soon give way to a cry of hopeless desperation. But it would be too late then. (“And all your money won’t another minute buy”- Kansas, Dust in the Wind)
They killed Jesus. Because he didn’t fit what they’d been teaching. And he challenged their authority. And the Romans might think of Jesus’ following as an uprising. And come lay waste to the city. So…they put an end to it.
But they wanted to be godly in how they killed him. So they beat him a bit. Put him through some illegal trials. And turned him over to the Romans to be scourged and crucified on a tree. Once it was done, they prayed to God that He’d restore Israel and limit the damage done by Jesus.
On the first day of the week, there was no small commotion. Jesus’ tomb was empty. The stone covered it was rolled away. The Roman guards had some dumb story about falling asleep. It didn’t cost their lives. Which meant it had to be made up.
Jesus appeared to hundreds over the next 40 days. After Pentecost, His followers began to preach in his Name. The same religious people threatened, jailed and beat his followers. But nothing could stop this revolution. It continues today. In spite of the religious folk. In.Spite.Of.Religious.Folk. Because you can’t stop a message coming from people empowered by Christ’s Spirit to live it real and speak it true.
The only choice we who claim to follow Jesus have is this: do we fit Jesus into our box when He becomes uncomfortable? Or do we go all out to follow Jesus- even when it costs our reputation and our standing among the good religious folk?