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Friday, May 13, 2011

What's My Interest in Jesus?

Every day you can hear people exclaim Jesus' name, not usually in praise or even sincere petition, but in angst and frustration. And whether people know Jesus intimately or not, many know of Him. He is, undoubtedly, the most influential person in all of history, even from a secular point of view.

And thus many people eventually become a little curious about this Jesus, this man who lived such a good, loving, and self-sacrificing life. What does He have to offer me, they wonder. And so they come to church, pick up the Bible, talk to a Christian friend, whatever it takes, to find out a little more about this "Savior of the world."

That's what Herod did when Jesus was ushered into his court. The Bible says,

Now when Herod saw Jesus, 
he was exceedingly glad; 
for he had desired for a long time to see Him, 
because he had heard many things about Him, 
and hoped to see some miracle done by Him.
Luke 23:8

Herod was curious about Jesus. But his primary motive in speaking with Jesus, allowing Him into his presence, and giving Jesus a somewhat amiable encounter was that he wanted to see a show. He wanted to get something out of Jesus.

But as Herod began to question Jesus, his interest in Him swiftly diminished. Jesus wasn't going to give Herod what he wanted. He refused to even answer his questions. From what I can tell, any time anyone asked Jesus a sincere question (example: Peter, Nicodemus, Thomas), Jesus willingly answered. But here was a man who was simply trying to impress Jesus enough to get a good miracle or two out of him. He was trying to intimidate the Messiah into doing his bidding. The Bible says he questioned Jesus "with many words", meaning Herod was putting on a show for Jesus in hopes that Jesus would do the same for him.

But Jesus is no puppet to be manipulated into doing tricks or putting on performances. He is the King of kings, the Master of all things. 

And so eventually Herod got put out with Jesus' unwillingness to comply with his wishes and he treated Him with contempt and sent Him back to Pilate. (Luke 23:11)

So that's the nice little history lesson. Now here's the point of it all.

I know Jesus pretty well. Not nearly well enough, but at least I recognize Him for who He truly is. Unlike Herod, I do not hold Jesus in contempt and think He is beneath me.

But do I ever bid Him come into my presence only so He can do me a favor? What exactly is my interest in Jesus? Do I want Him to perform for me? To grace me with His wise sayings and miraculous deeds? To astound me with His power? To pull whatever I ask for out of a hat? To act like a big, burly bodyguard and protect me? To be my crystal ball and show me what is down the road? To be my hit man and take out my enemies? To assuage my guilt when I've done something wrong? To entertain me when life gets a little less than spectacular? To relieve me of the stress I've created?

Truthfully, just as He could have obliged Herod with a miracle or two that day, Jesus can do all the things I've just listed as well. He can. But He is certainly not obligated to. Nor does He have any desire, from what I read, to work like that in my life or yours.

We cannot manipulate Jesus into doing our bidding. 

But, oh, we try.

I try. 

.......

Today I'm asking God to be God. I'm acknowledging that Jesus, while He is my friend, my provider, and my shield, He is first and foremost my Savior and Lord. I'm bowing the knee and repenting of my attempts to manipulate Jesus, my habit of being too "fresh" with Him (know what I mean? too casual?), and my tendency to expect Him to "jump" when I call. And I'm spending some time re-establishing Him as my Lord, my boss, my master, my king. Because in the long run, what I most need Him to be is my Savior. And because He has completely taken care of that task, what I most owe Him to be is my Lord.

And that is my interest in Jesus. To exalt Him as Savior and Lord, to show the world that He is those things to me and He is worthy.

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