RELATIONAL JESUS

Men sent by the Pharisees to capture Jesus reported back to their bosses that they were unable to catch him. Scripture records that “no one laid a hand on him” (John 7:44). The Pharisees, not surprisingly, were a bit miffed about this, and asked the temple police officers why they had not brought Jesus back.

“No one ever spoke like this man!” was their reply (John 7:46).

Many people would agree with Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz, Searching for God Knows What) and Rob Bell (Velvet Elvis, Sex God) that the primary reason Jesus came to earth was to enable men to have a relationship with him, that Jesus was the preeminent example of how to relate to people. Thus they would reduce the total of who Jesus is and what he did (Christology) to his being “relational Jesus.”

Yet the temple lackeys failed to arrest Jesus not because he “related” to them, but because of what he said! Men who came to Jesus initially as his enemies, as those who would deliver him over to one who would kill him, left completely different men. And they were different not because Jesus “related” to them, but because of what he taught. His words were what kept these men from capturing him.

Lest we think that Jesus’ words were designed to “relate,” like the pseudo-psychiatric babble coming from the lips of Oprah or Dr Phil, here is some of what Jesus said: “if anyone wants to do God’s will, he will know about my teaching” (7:17); “Hasn’t Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law!” (7:19); “do not judge according to external appearance, but judge with proper judgment” (7:24); “you will look for me but will not find me, and where I am you cannot come” (7:34).

Jesus at times did speak words of comfort and encouragement. Yet he also spoke words of truth, words that challenged the assumptions of the religious leaders that their acceptance by God depended on their inherent worth, that exposed improper notions about the goodness of men, that revealed truth about God’s holy character, Jesus’ mission, and the Holy Spirit’s future work.

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