2-8 Finding Meaning In Everyday Experience

In Jn. 10:36 there's a brief and rare window into how the Lord perceived His life before age 30. There Jesus says that He was "consecrated" [as a priest or High Priest], and then sent into the world, at age 30. That's how He looked back and understood those 30 years of mundane village life- a process of consecration, of purifying, of preparation. He saw that none of the multitude of daily frustrations was without purpose- it was all part of His preparation. And perhaps we'll look back on these brief years of our humanity in the same way. But the point in our context in these studies is that the Lord's mundane life before 30 was actually an active preparation of Him for service.

Like most Jews, He would have prayed the shema (" The Lord our God is one" ) upon rising and going to bed- just as He had a garment like that of the Pharisees, with the traditional tassles hanging from its edge (Mt. 9:20; 23:5). Yet He thought about what He prayed. When asked which was the greatest of the commandments, He replied that it was the fact that God is one. He saw the unity of God as a commandment that elicited action; and He says [note His grammar] that this plus the command to love our neighbour is the [singular] great commandment (Mk. 12:31). And He again combines these two commandments in Lk. 10:27,37, saying that to love God with all our heart is parallel with loving our neighbour and showing mercy to him. He quoted two commandments as one, so deeply had He perceived that we can't claim to love God without loving our brother. How had He worked that out? Perhaps by daily reflecting upon what to many was merely a ritual saying of words. And we too read and have pass our lips, ideas which can work radical transformation in us if only we will put meaning into the words and reflect upon them. He speaks of giving His shalom [peace] to us, not as the [Jewish] world gives it; each time He called out shalom  across the street or to the guys at work each morning, He meant it. And He perceived that it would take His death on the cross to really achieve what He was giving to them in His words.  

This way He had of finding meaning in everyday experience is reflected in His parables, most of which have an element of unreality in them. By doing this, Jesus was telling stories which had the hearers feeling comfortable, because they were set in such well known homely contexts, but then He shows how in the midst of ordinary life, there is something arrestingly different. 

No shepherd really leaves 99 sheep and goes off looking for one

But this is the extent of the searching, saving love of Christ

A mustard seed doesn't really grow into such a huge tree where birds nest. They only grow a metre or so high.

But this is the power of preaching; small beginnings have disproportionate results. A leaflet left on a bus brings a human being to eternal life...

No sower really throws out seed literally everywhere.

But this is the enthusiasm we should have to spread the message absolutely everywhere

No employer really pays the guy who worked one hour what he paid the one who worked all day

But works are so totally irrelevant to the pure grace of salvation, the penny given to all.

Nobody with a plank in front of them seeks to reach behind it to take a splinter out of another's eye

But this is how stupid we are in seeking to criticize others.

No smart trader literally sells all he has and buys a pearl, just to sit and look at it in his new poverty. He can't eat it, benefit from it materially...just have it.

So possessing relationship with the Father and the hope of salvation is something which gives no material increment; it's the joy of having it which is so wondrous, and leads us to act out of character with human wisdom, as the once wealthy trader did.

It surely wouldn't be that when the King has a marriage supper for his son, nobody wants to come

But this really is how hurtful, rude and inexplicable is humanity's rejection of the Gospel's invitation.

No father waits up all day looking for any sign of his wayward son; no woman goes so crazy and gets so extravagant when she finds a lost dowry coin

But this is the Father's searching love and eager desire for our return; and Heaven's joy at a repentance is way out of proportion with who we are. That an attitude of mind within human brain cells can result in the whole of Heaven electric with joy...

All this reflects how although the Lord was supremely 'separate' in the ways that true holiness require, yet He perceived spiritual prompts in the ordinary things of every day life. Recall how the disciples rebuked those who wanted to bring children to Jesus (Lk. 18:17). Yet He saw in them the qualities of those who would be in His Kingdom. Those kids weren't 'spiritual' in themselves. They were just Palestinian kids with well meaning mums. Yet, the Lord explained, that was no reason to disregard them. They should be seen as reminders of spiritual qualities which should be in us all. And this was how He perceived everything in His daily round of life. He raised everything to an altogether higher level. It was, for example, customary for Semitic peoples to greet each other [as it is today] with the words 'shalom!' or 'salaam!' ['peace']. But there was little real meaning in those words. The Lord said that His peace, His 'shalom', He gives to us, not as the [Jewish] world gave it. Likewise He told His disciples to say " Peace be to this house" (Lk. 10:5) when they entered a home. Yet this was the standard greeting. What He surely meant was that they were to say it with meaning.  

Jesus focused on the essential whilst still being human enough to be involved in the irrelevancies which cloud the lives of all other men. Just glancing through a few random chapters from the Gospels reveals this tremendous sense of focus which He had, and His refusal to be distracted by self-justification. In all of the following examples I suspect we would have become caught up with justifying ourselves and answering the distractions to the point that our initial aim was paralyzed. 



Resumed Focus

The sick woman touches His clothes, and He turns around to see her. He wants to talk to her.

The disciples tell Him that this is unreasonable, as a huge crowd is pressing on to Him

" He looked round about [again] to see her that had done this thing" (Mk. 5:30-32). He talks to her.

He says that the dead girl is only sleeping; for He wants to raise her.

" They laughed Him to scorn"

" But..." He put them all out of the house and raised her (Mk. 5:40,41).

He was moved with compassion for the crowds, and wants to feed them and teach them more.

The disciples tell Him to send the people away as it was getting late

He tells the disciples to feed them so that they can stay and hear more (Mk. 6:35-37)

Again He has compassion  on the hunger of the crowd

The disciples mock His plan to feed them

He feeds them (Mk. 8:3-6)

He explains how He must die

Peter rebukes Him

He repeats His message, telling them that they too must follow the way of the cross (Mk. 8:31-34)




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