The Chair and the Desk, 10/15/15

From the chair:

18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ ” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

-Luke 7:18-23

Luke writes up this story in an interesting way. The question is asked twice, in the same words, in quick succession: “Is Jesus the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” “Is Jesus the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” When the messengers ask, Luke doesn’t immediately tell us what Jesus says. Instead, he describes what Jesus did, and Jesus tells them to tell what they have seen and heard.

I often don’t trust Jesus enough. I try to boil down his life to what I find most important or smooth out some of the things that I find difficult. However, that betrays my lack of trust in those who hear—and my lack of trust in Jesus himself. People need a chance to encounter Jesus himself: what he did, what he said, and the claim that makes on their lives.

From the desk:

“There has been one particularly interesting result of the modern and direct (in contrast to the Gospels more nearly indirect) identification of the mission or intention with the personal character of Jesus as love, an identification that has resulted in the elevation of love over every other personal virtue in him as the single excellence of his character. The result has been a simplistic overdrawing, frequently pressing all too close upon the mysteriousness of the figure of Jesus who, after all, does not, in the portraiture of the Gospels, come provided with a single clue to unlock his character, not even with a clear-cut predominance of love deportment.”

-Hans Frei, The Identity of Jesus Christ, 2013 ePub ed., p.210

This quote from this book may have been why I found the Luke quote, above, so pressing.

Love was really important to Jesus. He said so (the two greatest commandments) and the NT goes on to rightly say so (God is love). However, we will miss so much of Jesus if we try to simply define him as “love embodied.” Jesus is…Jesus. Unlike a Greek myth, he’s not a character invented to represent a character trait. Jesus is Jesus, and though he can’t be simplified he can be known.

“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.

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