Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Stressed Out Savior

Our lectionary texts for this week are Isaiah 5:1-7, Luke 12:49-56, and Hebrews 11:29-12:2.

Throughout my life, I've pictured Jesus as many things.

I've pictured Jesus as a baby in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, crying when the hay pokes him in the eye, inspiring wide-eyed looks in the eyes of new parents who don't know what to do with their tiny bundle of joy.

I've pictured Jesus as infinitely patient, his hands always willing to reach out and touch one in need of healing, enduring gracefully as crowds press in on him so forcefully he can barely move.

I've pictured Jesus as an abundant provider, breaking 5 loaves and 2 fish into a feast sufficient for thousands and offering bread and cup even to a friend he knew would betray him.

I've pictured Jesus as a wise storyteller, crosslegged on hillsides imparting deep truths peppered with images from everyday life.

I've pictured Jesus in physical agony, his breath slipping away as his figure slumps down on a cross.

But I must confess...I don't think I've ever pictured Jesus as stressed out.

Yet this is the Jesus we get in this week's Gospel text, where Jesus says, "I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed!"

A few chapters ago in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus set his face towards Jerusalem, knowing that the city where both his people and his adversaries lie is where he must go. He begins to walk the road steadily, resolutely--a road that can only lead to his death when he confronts the powers that be with his radical message. Yet along the way, we get little indication that Jesus is stressed out about this inevitable end to his earthly days. When I'm stressed out, I make time for no one and no thing beyond the "must dos" on the list most days. But along the journey, Jesus has taken time to tell stories to inquisitive minds about good Samaritans and persistent friends; he has spent time in the homes of friends, encouraging them to slow down and focus on the one thing needed; he has even given lovely speeches about considering the lillies of the field, and about not storing up frantically in barns but sharing freely with one another.

Yet here, the intensity of this mission Jesus is pursuing and the hard truth of where he is headed seem at last to be sinking in; and Jesus starts showing signs of stress. The disciples he has worked so hard to prepare to take up his mantle of leadership are just ambling along the road behind him like they're out for a summer stroll. Jesus came to set things on fire, but barely a smoldering ember can be seen among a people who seem to still be asleep to Jesus' message. Jesus' fan club is tagging along after him but totally missing the gravity of what he is about, the importance of his mission and the important role they will be called to take up in carrying it on beyond his imminent departure.

Jesus is stressed out; and Jesus has every right to be. Here he is, about to give his life for these people...about to lay down all that he is...but will it make a difference at all? Will anyone be ready to step up to the plate and continue this passionate pursuit of the Kingdom of God?

For any of us who have ever wondered if what we're doing matters at looks like Jesus wondered, too.

How should we take this new view of our Savior? How should it impact and shape our lives? And if these are the things Jesus really worried about...doesn't it seem they should be things we worry about, too?

It's certainly food for thought on this hot summer evening. May the fires Jesus came to light be stoked in us even now.

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Hey there, folks,

There has been an issue with the recordings over the last 3 weeks that I can not resolve. The recorder seems to be skipping and only recording about 6 minutes of each sermon. I'll have a backup this week to test along with the normal method.

My apologies,