Lent is the time when we prepare ourselves for the crucifixion and resurrection.
Lent is an intense time to reflect.
THE LIFE OF CHRIST: Words written a thousand times before, but never by one as uninformed as I. Jesus lived for roughly thirty years as a private person, a family member, a growing child, and as a carpenter like his father. He must have been a fun child to know because he was almost certainly polite, soft-spoken, and friendly. And one of the things I enjoy the most as I consider the personality of Christ, the child, is a quality I enjoy in some children today — intelligence. Being with smart children is so much fun. Watch the light come on in their eyes as they realize a new concept. Or even better, be amazed when the bright child reveals a new concept to us.
Christ was bright! (See the glow of brightness around his head.) When his mom and dad discovered while traveling that young Jesus was not with them, they searched, backtracking their journey, finally finding him teaching the elders in the temple.
But I want to write about THE PUBLIC LIFE OF CHRIST.
When is a child grown up — age 18? No way. Age 21 or 24? Maybe for a few, or for those thrust into grown-up situations. Jesus grew, developed, and matured for thirty years, then left his home and family behind, and began his mission quest — to spread to the World the promise of salvation. The remainder of his life was devoted single-mindedly to that mission. He knew then and had always known, that his life would end badly. A great irony is that his life would also end in the greatest glory of all time.
He knew that along the way would be tribulations. He was prepared for them because he knew they were coming. In fact, he could have written his complete and detailed autobiography before he ever left home. He threw himself into his mission with zeal, accepting all challenges, ever advancing, never wavering, straightforward, with single-mindedness of purpose. There was no Plan B for Jesus.
His first publicly performed miracle was the changing of water into wine at the wedding. His mother asked him to do it, and never obtained his agreement; she merely instructed the servants to do as he said. Jesus asked her why she was having him reveal himself so early in the game, but he already knew — game on. Again as he performed other miracles, he also asked why he was being expected to reveal himself before ‘his time.’ And as he performed miracles, he instructed those present not to tell of his deeds. These facts suggest that Jesus wanted to keep his mission secret.
But for all of his reluctance to perform, and all of his direction for silence, he knew already what was happening. Perhaps his motive was not to remain secret, but to emphasize that, in fact, he was not secret, was not going to remain secret, and each of these events was already scripted into the play. His apparent attempts at anonymity must have actually been the loudspeakers and billboards of 30 AD, his way of shouting, “Hey, here I am! Yep, it’s me! Come and see, come and hear; have I got a story for you! You need to know what’s going on!” * Telling the witnesses to a miracle to keep it quiet is completely unrealistic, and he never expected it to work. In fact, he knew and intended that the result would be the opposite. The request draws attention to the event, intensifies the clamor, broadcasts his presence and his power, and represents a threat to those with worldly power.
Scripture leads us to believe he was sometimes taken by surprise; e.g., “Why are you weeping?”, “Why are you afraid?”, and, “Woman, why are you asking? My time has not yet come.” These questions actually underscore the performance of the miracles, making them more memorable. Look for the questions; they are manifold in The Bible. To how many of these questions did Jesus not already know the answer?
In the process of saying “Here I am” he was also leading into the final act of the play, which, for the purpose of this account, ends with his death and resurrection.** He was flaunting himself, frustrating those in power, antagonizing them, angering them, and, most importantly, he was scaring the daylights out of them. Why would anyone in his right mind do that? Especially with such vigor, and especially if he knew what was to come? Could he actually have been taking great glee in his provocations, hiding his excitement behind the serious, solemn, serene face we always see?*** Is Jesus denied the delight of having fun? Could it be that Jesus intentionally misleads us for the furtherance of his purposes?
His implacable countenance would have further angered and frustrated his tormentors, driving them toward their final decisions. They must have thought how the impudent Jew deserved his fate, the terrible fate they were dictating. After he was taken away, their anger must have lingered, mixed with the frustration that they could not get the crowd to relent, and disappointed in the sometimes insurmountable difficulties that can come with their positions of authority.
Now think how they felt on Sunday morning, when they heard the tomb was empty.
* If he had behaved in outlandish ways, he would not have been taken seriously; he would have been labeled a lunatic. He would have been ignored. So he found a more creative way to place emphasis on the very actions for which he asks silence.
** Certainly the play does not end with Jesus’ death and resurrection, and, in fact, will end on the last day.
*** Imagine the range of feelings Jesus might have as he watches the future unfold, a future he already knows. Amusement, concern? Not fear, because fear comes from uncertainty. Of course, there was love –unconditional love, even for his persecutors.