Yesterday it was my turn to preach and, while my scripture passage was not focused on the Pharisees, it did contain a reference to them. They didn’t approve of something Jesus said, of course. Jesus shrugged it off, but they drive me crazy. I read the Gospels and wonder why Jesus didn’t do something to them. Something poignant and “wrath of the Father” in flavor. You know, like smiting. There’s a lot of smiting the in Old Testament. Touch the ark of God and you get struck down (2 Samuel 6:7). Complain and whine constantly for meat and you get quail out the nose (literally) followed by a good smiting (Numbers 11:18-23, 31-35). People knew where they stood and God was quick to punish insolence. Sometimes you just read those passages and want to high five the Father for the quick justice. But not Jesus. No, the Son is so laid back.
I’m in awe of Jesus, actually. He does the exact opposite of what I would do if I had the awesome power of God. I would show those Pharisees who they were messing with. My pithy retorts would be accompanied with fire and brimstone. I’d border snarky and then shoot electric bolts from my fingers as they ran away knowing I was not to be messed with. Thank goodness I am not Jesus. I would really cross some boundary lines and probably profane the name of God. When you see how Jesus took so much torment long before he was arrested, beaten, and crucified, you have to admire his restraint. His patience and the willingness to let events play out rather than shape them himself is unparalleled. That is so counter-human it has to be divine. When people verbally abused him, he spoke back in kindness. When people tried to trick him, he preached loving your enemies. When people arrested him on trumped up charges intending to have him killed, he didn’t pull a Carrie and smite them. He died for them and all of us. That rocks my world every time I think about it. The magnitude of Christ’s actions and the profoundness of his love. How can you not read the Bible, read the Gospels, and not be stupefied of all that Christ has done and is doing even now? That’s no mere mortal. That is the Son of God, the Lord of lords, the King of Kings, the Messiah. He is Jesus the Christ, and he lived, died, and rose again for you. Be in awe.