Friday, April 9, 2010

Inasmuch. . . .

I have been thinking a bit lately about what Jesus’ living situation would be were He alive today. Would He be driving a Lexus? Would He have a nice house with a three-car garage, replete with a big plasma TV so He could watch 3ABN? What about His clothing? Would He wear the top-of-the-line name brands all the time?

We could never know for sure, I don’t think, but I believe the Gospels give us a little glimpse into Jesus’ world and indicate to us how He would probably live today. There are a few clues that we can glean.

First of all, let’s be clear on His financial situation: He didn’t have much. When He was asked on two separate occasions about paying taxes, both times He had to “borrow” money from elsewhere. Once He had to instruct Peter to go get a coin from a fish’s mouth (Matthew 17:27), and the other time He had to borrow a denarius from someone else so He could show His audience whose picture was on it (Matthew 22:19). So, make no mistake about it: Christ did not have a padded bank account. His 401k didn’t look too good.

How about food? Would He be eating out at all the fancy restaurants today—or any restaurant for that matter? Would His refrigerator always be stocked full? There are a few places that seem to indicate that Christ hardly ever even knew where His next meal was coming from when He was around. On one occasion, the Pharisees got mad at Him and His disciples because they were going through the grainfields on the Sabbath, plucking grain and eating it (Luke 6:1). And, though I don’t know for sure, I think it is pretty safe to say that it wasn’t His grainfield. They were—in our modern vernacular—“mooching” off others.

Then there is the time when Jesus fed the five thousand. He had to rely upon a little boy who had five loaves of bread and two small fish in order to feed, not only the five thousand, but also Himself and His disciples (John 6:9).

Yes, it seems like Jesus and His disciples lived without knowing where their next meal was coming from.

And then there were His living arrangements, which were, in a word, non-existent. When a scribe came up to Jesus and said that he wanted to follow Him, Jesus responded by saying, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20). Thus, He could often be found in the house of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (Luke 10:38) and, no doubt, many others.

So if Jesus were alive today, I couldn’t help but imagine Him being like that guy who just goes from house to house to house, staying with various people who are willing to put Him up.

What’s the point of all this? One, it helps us appreciate Christ’s great humility and condescension. He went from living “high off the hog” in heaven to becoming, not only a human being—which is humble enough—but one of the most humble human beings on the planet. And His life bears testimony to the fact that it was one of constant self-denial.

Two, it helps to inform my living when I understand how Christ lived. Do I really need the sports car, plasma TV, or big house? If Christ could change the world without these things, is it really necessary for me to have them? Or, how much more should I be able to accomplish with them if I do already have them?

Three, it gives me an appreciation for the fact that Christ placed Himself in situations where He relied upon others. He had confidence that others would help Him. He could have done it all Himself. He could have taken care of Himself. But, just like He asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water, He still places Himself in a position today where He “needs” our help.

And, lastly, and kind of related to this third point, how is it that we “help” Him today? He is pretty clear: clothe the naked, feed the hungry, “take in” the stranger (Matthew 25:43). For, as He says, “Inasmuch as you did it unto the least of these, My brethren, you have done it unto Me” (Matthew 25:40).

No, we don’t even need to imagine what Jesus would be like were He living today. We see Him right in front of our faces when we walk by the homeless man on the street; when another person walks into the foyer of our church, wearing “hole-y” pants; or when another comes to our church simply because she wants to go to potluck and have a good meal.

Indeed, “Inasmuch as you did it unto the least of these, My brethren, you have done it unto Me.”


David said...

Great post Shawn! It's always a challenge to take another glance at Jesus and his life.

Black Libertarian said...

This is a great post. Really challenges all of our conventions about Christianity, Adventism, and Church. Wonder if he would attend an SDA Church or be one of the people that stressed vegetarianism etc. Can't know for sure but from his own words it is at least questionable.