The Wonderful Paradox of Jesus
By Neil Earle
Back in the 1990s a colleague and I attended a class taught at Regent College in Vancouver, BC, Canada by the highly respected New Testament scholar Gordon Fee. For both us it was an eye-opening experience, even having done church work all our lives.
Jesus is like that. A full-bore focus on Him will wake you up. He will surprise you. Here’s why, mostly in Dr. Fee’s words.
On the One Hand…
- Jesus was just like his disciples and the people he met. Nothing obvious stood out about him (“He passing through the midst of them went his way” – Luke 4:30.)
- His family background was ordinary enough (“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” – Mark 6:1-3.)
- Some of them knew his kinsfolk (“Aren’t his sisters with us?” – Mark 6:3.)
- His interests and needs were much like theirs (“Give me a drink” – John 4:7.)
- He was human and vulnerable, and reacted to rebuke, challenge, repudiation (“He looked about on them with anger” – Mark 3:5.)
- He never stressed repeatedly and egotistically that he was utterly different from them.
On the Other Hand…
- Some things he said or did raised the inevitable question, Who is this? (“What manner of man is this that even the winds and the waves obey him?” – Mark 5:41.)
- He issued repeated compelling demands to follow him (“Sell whatever you have and give to the poor and come and follow me” – Mark 10:21.)
- He connected his healings with the power and authority to forgive sins (“He said to the sick man, Your sins are forgiven” – Mark 2:5.)
- He taught the great truths of Judaism with a new thrust and urgency (“Except your right dealings exceed the Pharisees you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” – Matthew 5:20.)
- He told magnificent unforgettable stories (“A man went down to Jericho and fell among thieves” – Luke 10:30.)
“Just who is this?”
Who was this, the disciples must have wondered, this carpenter from Nazareth who seemed to sit in Moses’ seat and speak as if he were superior to Moses himself? (“You have heard from old. But I say unto you…” – Matthew 5:21.)
Who was it who called little children to himself and set them up as models for the Kingdom he was forming? (Matthew 19:13)
Who is this man who pronounces with such authority so that demons flee from him in terror? (Matthew 8:29)
Who among the prophets ever claimed that the Kingdom, God’s Rule, and God Himself was breaking in with his own ministry? (Luke 11:20)
Which of their national teachers could state “I saw Satan like lightning fall from heaven”? – (Luke 10:18)
Who else announced that to turn away from his teaching is to risk losing everything? (Matthew 18:7)
Yet he never comes right out and says it, just simply announces, “I’m divine!”
He’d rather his disciples do that. That’s why he picked twelve – a complete jury. And eventually they did proclaim just that, that they got the point. They came to believe that it was God Himself who had made the human scene. One one of them finally fell at his feet and said what they were all thinking as they stood in the presence of a man they had seen die, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).
Eventually one of them had the skill to put it in words that were almost pure poetry: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory, full of Grace and Truth (John 1:14).”
The disciples finally came to believe. But how about us? Are we ready to believe and risk all to follow the marvelous man from Galilee? One thing is for sure: Your life won’t be dull amymore.