What kind of Jesus do you prefer? How about the 12 year old Jesus in Luke 2? Everyone loves that Jesus. I think most parents can relate to the situation and feel for Jesus’ earthly parents. Jesus, the pre-teen, trying to find his own voice, doing things by himself. In the end, he is found and I’m sure scolded, and then listens to his mother and follows along dutifully. We like when Jesus listens to us and follows us. Following, adolescent Jesus is handy to have.
Or maybe you prefer the Jesus of John 2? This would be the wedding feast of Cana where Jesus performs his first miracle in this Gospel – changing water into wine. Of course it only happens after his mother does the motherly thing and suggest he do something without actually calling on him to do something. Besides, this is Jesus making more wine for a party. Who wouldn’t want this Jesus in their life?
But what about the Jesus who is rejected in his own hometown in Luke 4? He preaches a sermon that the people don’t want to hear. And that’s putting it mildly. We’re told that they carried him off to the edge of the cliff at the edge of town, intending to throw him off the cliff. People don’t like to be told things they don’t like. It can cause a backlash.
What about the Jesus of Luke 6 that asks – “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, but do not do what I tell you to do?” Or the Jesus of Matthew 16 who says, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” This isn’t a well liked Jesus. This is the Jesus we often would rather just ignore because he is making demands on us that go beyond being friends. This is much more. It’s like Jesus wants control over our life or something.
We, like those who heard Jesus, get upset when Jesus won’t listen to us and obey us. Too often we would rather silence him and throw him off the cliff. Or just send him elsewhere.
But that’s not the choice we get. We don’t get to choose which Jesus we get. Jesus comes and makes demands on us – not because Jesus has a big ego or needs affirmation or is a narcissist. Nope. We get a Jesus who makes demands because he loves us in unbelievable ways. And Jesus wants us to be all in. He might not be the Jesus we prefer, but he is the Jesus that we need.