So here lately I’ve been running into the idea that not everyone recognizes who Jesus is. Even the people who claim to know him. Maybe especially them.
Just in the past week I’ve run up across the centurion whose servant was paralyzed and suffering. He went to Jesus and asked him to heal the servant. When Jesus offered to go to the man’s house, he said, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
And then there was the leper who came to Jesus after he finished preaching the Sermon on the Mount. The leper fell to his knees and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” (FYI–Although these stories are back-to-back in Matthew 8 I ran into them at different times in different contexts.)
Finally, there was John the Baptist who came to prepare the way for Jesus saying, “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.”
What do these three have in common? They all realized that Jesus was SO FAR above them, that they weren’t worthy to breathe the same air. They humbled themselves. They didn’t see Jesus as their friend or buddy. They didn’t think that Jesus owed them anything. But they knew that Jesus could give them everything.
I’ll confess I like friendly Jesus. You know, the guy with the soft, brown hair who likes to give hugs and make me feel better. My buddy. My friend.
But I don’t think that’s who Jesus is. Jesus is the guy who says, “I love you, but you can do so much better than this. Now try again. I’ll help you.” He’s the guy who holds me accountable, who knows I’ll never escape sin this side of heaven, but keeps pushing me to try. He’s the one who loves me not because of the good I do, but in spite of how pitiful my attempts at good are. He’s SO much better than I’ll ever be.
John, the leper, and the centurion knew that. They understood. And they weren’t the cool kids. I think they got it more than the disciples did. I want to understand who Jesus is the way they did. On my knees, eyes averted, unworthy. Because that’s what makes Jesus so amazing. I’m NOTHING next to him and he still wants to hang out with me. Every day, all the time. I can’t do ANYTHING to impress him and yet he’s willing to bless me for my pitiful efforts.
Not my buddy, not my friend. My LORD who I would do anything for because he’s already done everything for me. I’m still working on it. Maybe one day I’ll be as worthy as that leper.