Rethinking Jesus: Jesus cared more about bad people than good stuff

by Kyle
published February 28, 2015


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Something terrible happens when we tell a story over and over again.

Familiarity with people breeds contempt and familiarity with stories breeds blindness. How many times to we tell the Christmas story use words like "stable" and "manger," and fail - because of our own desensitization to the story - to realize that when the King of the Universe came to earth, he was born in a barn and slept a feeding trough?

Consider when Jesus called Simon Peter to follow him in Luke 5. Jesus told Peter to cast his net on the other side of the boat and he caught a lot of fish. Jesus told him he would catch men from now on, and "they left everything and followed Him (Luke 5:11)." If you spent any time in Sunday school as a child, you know the story, but can you remember the details?

In Luke 5:6, we're told that there were so many fish that "their nets began to break," and in verse 7, it seems there were so many fish that the weight of the fish nearly sunk two fishing boats. How much fishing can a fisherman do if his nets are broken? The text doesn't tell us how badly they were damaged. At the very least, Peter had several hours of work in front of him to repair them. If there were really enough fish to nearly sink two boats, though, it seems more likely that the nets were completely trashed and might need to be replaced.

Why would Jesus do something like that? Peter's livelihood has been imperiled and the tools of his trade have been ruined. Maybe Jesus cared more about Peter than he did about Peter's nets. Maybe helping Peter fulfill his purpose in life was more important to Jesus than the cost of a few dirty fishing nets.

Consider the story of the demon-possessed man in the Gerasenes in Mark 5. One of the creepiest lines in Scripture is recorded there. Movies love to quote it, too. When Jesus asked the demon his name, the demon said, "My name is Legion ... for we are many (Mark 5:9.)." A legion was a Roman military typically consisting of 3,000 to 6,000 soldiers. Can you imagine being so tormented? If we take the name literally, the man had thousands of evil spirits taking control of his body and causing him to run around naked, rip his skin open with sharp rocks and live in a cemetery. If you saw such a man, would you want to set him free? Jesus did.

You might remember the story. Jesus sent the spirits into a large herd of pigs, and they ran off a cliff into the sea to their deaths. Mark 5:13 says it was about 2,000 pigs. Consider the economic havoc that must have caused. Imagine a rancher losing 2,000 heads of cattle. Jesus was certainly smart enough to have considered it. After all, he was the one that taught that we should "calculate the cost (Luke 14:28)." As we look at Jesus' life carefully, a theme develops. Jesus cared more about bad people than good stuff. That's why he accepted the sinful woman's worship even when she was accused of "wasting" expensive perfume. That's why he said the widow who gave just a few cents gave more than the rich people who gave heaps of gold. That's why he said, "what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36)." This is an important theme for a few reasons. For one, God cares more about filling your heart more than he does about filling your bank account. Lots of things can fill your bank account, but only one person can fill your heart. American Christianity tends to focus a little too much on the stuff God can give rather than the life he gives.

Also, if Jesus struck men blind, broke their nets, killed their herds and upended the whole world just to reach people, call them to himself and set them free, imagine what he'll do to accomplish the same thing for you. He even died in the attempt.

And finally, as followers of Jesus, we should "have this attitude ... which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5)." But how often does the material cost get in the way of doing the right thing? How often is it too expensive or take too much time to treat people as the valuable humans God made them to be? The second-greatest commandment is to "love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37)." When Tim Kimmel spoke at the national prayer breakfast earlier this month, he defined love in a way I think Jesus would agree with "Love is an act of my will for another's good, no matter what the cost."

What do you think?

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