I am fascinated by the person of Jesus. There is no other person in the history of the world that I would more like to have a beverage with. He’d probably have a few glasses of wine and I would enjoy a nice bourbon. Most likely, we’d be enjoying some hummus, pita, and a plate of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Honestly, I dream often about this.
In my imagination, he’s quick with a laugh, an ironic comment, and has a sly smile. In my mind’s eye he’s also one who moves beyond small talk to discussions of substantial things. He challenges you in all the best ways. There is little that escapes his attention. He is confident, but humble. Strong and bold, yet gentle.
Those are the images that I get from reading his story in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
These images draw me in and I want to know more.
I am pretty sure that I could read stuff on the “historical” Jesus on a never ending basis. Documentaries about Jesus are like catnip for me. I can’t turn away. Apparently, I have a never ending hunger for information about Jesus.
Perhaps it’s because there are so many theories. Maybe, it’s because the quest for a “historical” Jesus is somewhat elusive. Whatever it is, I have not found a person in history that piques my interest or curiosity more than Jesus of Nazareth.
I think one of the things that I appreciate about the story of Jesus is that it’s honest. Right from the jump, his family history is not that great. If you just hit the highlights, Abraham was a habitual liar and raped his slave at the request of his wife and got her pregnant. Rahab was a prostitute. Judah committed adultery with his daughter-in-law because he she was a prostitute and got her pregnant. King David was a rapist and a murderer. Jesus also had some good folks in his family like Ruth, Boaz, Hezekiah, and Josiah.
When I consider my family history particularly in relation to divorce and substance abuse, I used to feel shame. We often joke that our family tree is more of a family hedgerow due to divorce and remarriage. As I was moving toward marriage there was a very real sense of dread and worry that I would perpetuate that cycle. Amy and I decided that we would never use the “D” word or even joke about it.
As messed as my family history is, when I compare it to the likes of Jesus’ family history it pales in comparison. Jesus’ family was dysfunctional and yet he overcame that dysfunction. What is even more beautiful to me is that those who wrote his story down didn’t shy away from the ugly parts. They leaned into them and put them on display.
Jesus, came from a family that knew brokenness and pain. His family knew shame and dishonor. He could identify and empathize with those whose family stories were similar to his. People like me who aren’t necessarily proud of the way our family histories shook out can find, in Jesus, someone who says, “I get it.” He shows us that from that place we can redeem the family heritage and help to leverage and highlight the good and the beautiful aspects of that history, while not ignoring the hard stuff.
In the person Jesus, I can see my own story and its redemption.
There are many aspects of the Jesus story that are beautiful. But, this part of his humanity may be the most attractive and intriguing. It is in his humanity that we can see ourselves and know our own stories are never beyond redemption or reconciliation.