“Let us give Jesus a more urban and contemporary look.”
The story of Jesus does not make an Arnold Schwarzenegger kind of movie. At the end of this film, the great protagonist is not standing victorious. He is hanging dead on a cross.
Okay, so He resurrected after three days. But how many people knew about it? Did I hear you say five hundred? Just five hundred? How can that be satisfactory? That is why the Jews were able to pay the guards at the tomb to say that His disciples came to steal His body.
Would it not have been more appropriate for Jesus to have paid a visit to Pilate on His resurrection and said: “Remember me?” The man might just have died of a heart attack.
How about having Him knock on the door of the high priest or visit some of those disbelieving Pharisees and saying: “Check it out. Did you really think you could kill the Son of God?”
It would have been great to see them begging for mercy.
Lamb of God
But God’s ways are not our ways. John the Baptist says: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29). In the wisdom of God, it is only those as docile as the lamb who can overcome sin. It is only the meek, as opposed to the aggressive go-getter, who will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5).
The description of Jesus as a lamb is remarkable precisely because Jesus is God. How can God be a lamb? How could God have allowed himself to be slapped and kicked and abused and crucified without putting up any resistance? Would the temptation not have been too much to resist?
But can you imagine Jesus suddenly jumping down from the cross after saying: “Heavenly Father, just give me five minutes to show these ragamuffins who I am really?”
No! Not Jesus.
The devil was extremely provocative. He said: “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” (Matthew 4:4). But Jesus would have none of that.
The Pharisees came asking Him to show them a sign from heaven. Jesus refused to oblige. They wanted to know where He got the authority to do His miracles. Jesus refused to answer even that question.
You would not need to ask a big man of the world for his credentials. If you did not immediately recognise him, he would stand up to you and ask: “Don’t you know who I am?” And then he would proceed to tell you in no uncertain terms that he is “Professor this” or “General that.”
If he does not get the requisite respect from you, he might decide to show you his power. When the people of Samaria refused to allow Jesus to pass through their town on His way to Jerusalem, His disciples felt it was time to show them precisely who they were dealing with.
They asked Jesus: “Do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven to consume them, just as Elijah did?” (Luke 9:54). But Jesus rebuked them saying they did not know what kind of spirit was in them.
Jesus’ approach is often counterintuitive. He said He is the good pastor but by the time He finished one sermon, His whole congregation walked out. By the time He had finished another counseling session, the chief young ruler left the church.
What a shame! That man could have paid a lot of tithes.
When a woman poured the entire contents of very expensive perfume on Jesus, Judas concluded that Jesus not only condones the waste of money but that Jesus Himself is a waste of time. At that rate, he concluded, if he continued to follow Jesus, he might never get the money to build his own house.
Peter, in particular, had a problem with the idea of Jesus, the Saviour of the world, being killed by the wicked. “Be it far from You that You would have to die,” he protested. But this only earned him a sharp rebuke from Jesus.
Peter could not stand the idea of God washing his feet. When they came to arrest Jesus, Peter would not surrender without putting up a fight. He drew his sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest.
Again, Jesus rebuked him and preached to him the gospel of the lamb. He warned him that according to the dynamics of the kingdom of God, all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
The true believer is someone who has no confidence in the flesh. (Philippians 3:3). The word of God says by strength no man will prevail. (1 Samuel 2:9).
Paul points out that: the weapons of warfare for the believer are not physical but spiritual. Nevertheless, they are mighty because behind them is the power of God. (2 Corinthians 10:4).
Peter did not understand kingdom dynamics. He fought a lot of battles with his flesh and not his spirit. He boasted that even if all of Jesus’ disciples deserted him, he would remain faithful.
For this reason, God’s providence allowed Peter to be tempted above his ability. Therefore, he was the one disciple who denied Jesus three times on the trot.
When it was time to engage in spiritual warfare in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter slept. When the battle was over and they came to arrest Jesus, Peter came to fight. He failed to recognise that the real battle is in the spiritual at the point of prayer, for the arm of flesh will always fail. (Jeremiah 17:5).
Therefore, in the church today, the wisdom of man says: “Let’s re-package the whole gospel story. If we sell Coke in this kind of bottle, people will not buy it. Let’s look for a different and more attractive design.”
“Let us give Jesus a more urban and contemporary look. Let us make the gospel more palatable to the flesh. If we don’t embellish the message with the enticing words of man’s wisdom; the people will reject it again.”
Indeed, Jesus should have waited until now to manifest in the flesh. This is the glorious age of mass communications. This is the age of the cell phone, social media, and cable television; ensuring that Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection would have been broadcasted and televised.
But all this misses the vital principle. Jesus’ kingdom is spiritual; therefore, His victory is entirely spiritual. Jesus was defeated completely in the flesh, so that He may be totally and exclusively triumphant in the spirit. Although they killed His body, they could not kill His Spirit. Therefore, He rose from the dead.
Before His death, His enemies only had Him to contend with. After His crucifixion, they discovered to their cost that they now had many more people to contend with.
Samson killed more Philistines in his death than he did in his life. (Judges 16:30). Similarly, Jesus did more damage to the enemy by dying than by living. Because He agreed to die, the world is now full of believers. Because He agreed to lose: “Of the increase of His government and peace, there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9:7).