Mick’s Memo-Countercultural Jesus

Jesus of Nazareth was not easy to anticipate.  He was a keeper (fulfiller) of the Law of Moses having full mastery of the OT contents.  But he confronted traditions of the religious rulers that He deemed as contradictory to the Law.  He came to embody divinity and fulfill the role of the Messiah; yet he owned almost nothing, never built any structures and never wrote a book.  He was rightfully the ultimate authority; but He redefined the role of leader as the chief servant of all.  He embraced children as legitimate learners in a culture that marginalized them. He was sent primarily to the Jewish people but performed miracles for and marveled at the faith of gentiles who crossed His path. 

His followers, anything but influential, became His successors. They were often confused and confusing. Who could believe Him when He told them that after He left them, they would do greater things than Him?  Yet they did!  As we have observed in the past 2 weeks in Acts; they were empowered by the Holy Spirit to communicate to all people and to restore mobility to a beggar.  They saw thousands respond to their message, spoken in public even after being arrested.  They stood their ground before the Sanhedrin, the religious body that had engineered Jesus’ crucifixion.  They simply obeyed Him.  They told of Jesus’ authentication as Messiah by the miracles God had performed through Him, His arrest and death at the hands of His own people, and His resurrection in an immortal body, all of which was in line with prophecy.  The embryonic church took off as Jesus predicted—like mustard seed and like yeast. 

The secret ingredient was and is grace.  Grace is at its most effective when it is under pressure.  The resurrection proved that He was sovereign over the sting of death, liberating His followers from fear to take on whatever they faced.  Followers of Jesus now, as then, live in light of the defeat of death because of grace.  We can know our destiny is settled and we can help others have that same assurance by faith in Jesus.  That’s why the church exploded 2000 years ago.  What are we fearing that holds us back from seeing such influence today?

Looking forward to seeing you Sunday as we contrast Stephen and Saul,

Mick

PS  I sincerely appreciate your prayers, cards and notes and encouragement in the last 2 weeks.  I’m praising God for good doctoring, medications and the Lord’s divine healing.  Thanks also to Eric Young for preaching last week and for our great staff for covering all the bases!

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