Finding Jesus where He ‘shouldn’t’ be

It is the subtlest of traps: to worship the path to God, instead of God. The Pharisees and Sadducees fell into this trap when Jesus showed them that God’s love for people and creation couldn’t be contained in their laws, their rituals, their money and their public statements: not even in their reading of Scripture.

The rich young ruler too – he could have been Jesus’ Rock ahead of St. Peter, but he believed true riches were the ones that people agree are worth the heartbeats and breaths – ours and others’ – that we spend earning them (we call it “money”). And he walked away grieving in his rich poverty.

Jesus came to tell them the Truth, so they could finally taste freedom. But, rather than to laugh at themselves for having been silly pretenders, forget their mistakes and be simply and joyfully healed of their spiritual blindness, the religious people murdered God. It was better for God to die, than to have to admit they were wrong about God.

Lord Jesus, I kill you every time my prideful actions, greed and hypocrisy hurt another living soul.

The disciples got it wrong too. One of them tried to put a price on Jesus. The other ones walled Jesus’ lifeless body up in a beautiful stone tomb in the middle of a beautiful garden. That way they knew where to find him when they wanted to visit him on Sunday. But when Mary Magdalene went to visit the tomb that first Easter, it was empty.

And when Jesus came to her, she mistook him for the gardener.

This shouldn’t surprise us.

After all, who else would you expect to see in a garden, but a gardener?

Just like, when we visit a prison, we expect to see only prisoners.

In a shelter, we expect to see only poor, homeless, dirty, substance-addicted people.

In the dementia unit, we expect to see only weak, elderly, confused people.

In a daycare, we expect to see only very young people with nothing to teach us.

When we are at home, we expect only to see our wife, our husband, our children.

When we look at someone we hate, we don’t expect to see a person at all.

It’s disconcerting when we find the eyes of a disguised Jesus Christ looking back at us through their eyes: in people and places where we think he “shouldn’t” be. But that’s Resurrection Life: God, and the Kingdom of Heaven breaking through the ordinary, redeeming all of creation from the inside-out.

Lord Jesus, how many times have I walled you off, locked the door, explained you away, or left you to die alone, rather than to allow my false self to die with you on the cross, so that you can bring me into your kingdom?

Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.

Lord Jesus, have mercy.

Jesus, mercy.

Jesus.

Shane Spangler8 Posts

Shane Spangler is a native of the Fairview area. He currently serves as pastor of the Fairview United Church of Christ, located at 311 South High Street in Fairview.

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