Friday, December 16, 2011

Power and Might

The other night Beve was telling me about a teacher who'd come into Beve's office to talk about several things. Such things happen with Beve.  Not only students and their parents but teachers and administrators come into his office, close the door and talk to him about things as if he was a priest and his office a confessional.  I'm not sure what this teacher was talking to Beve about--I'm not always privy to the hardest of my husband's conversations--but after a bit the teacher reminded Beve of an evening we'd spent at their home, sharing some Indian curry together. He said he could hardly remember a night they'd enjoyed more. When Beve told me that, I said, "Of course. We're fascinating people, after all."

Ok. Maybe we aren't. Maybe we're just ordinary people like all the rest of you bums out there.  That's the truth of it, and I'm not going to pretend for a single moment that it's not. That ridiculous commercial on television about 'the most interesting man in the world' made me roll my eyes the first time I saw it.  There is no such thing. Such monikers are subjective, as they should be. What might seem interesting to me wouldn't to a person who cares about race cars, and sure as today Vacation Beve comes home in an hour!, what is fascinating to a person interested in bugs (come to think of it--of any kind: insects, computer or illnesses) would put me to sleep in an instant.

Where was I?
Oh yeah,  the evening we spent with this teacher and his wife was interesting to me because they are Orthodox Jews. Our conversation revolved around their faith which, of course, interests me; I cannot imagine NOT being interested in those whom God calls "the people for my Name." We read and study the same book--at least part of it.  There is one essential point of departure--we believe the Messiah has come, that the prophecies have been fulfilled. They are still waiting.  I do not for a single moment lose sight of this difference. HE is the great love of my life.  Still, there is much we can learn from our Jewish cousins about studying scripture, about the rhythm of living the year with God.  I would love to have a Mezuzah at the doorway of my home. That's a scroll with the words of Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 written on it.  This passage of scripture is called the Shema and the most important passage of scripture in the Torah to Jews.
  "Hear O Israel. The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give to you are to be written on your hearts. Impress them to your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your house and on your gates."

Powerful words. It makes sense to do what God tells us to do here, doesn't it?  As much sense as wearing a cross around my neck, I think.

But I've often wondered why it's been so difficult for Jews to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, as Peter put it.  All these prophecies.  Part of it has to do with the kind of King they'd been expecting. Kings come in power, with might and majesty. They don't show up as babies. Even if Isaiah says they will, I suppose.  Or at least they'll grow into Kings of power and might and majesty.  Jesus' power and might and majesty was all there, however. It was simply a leashed kind. It was restrained. Like a very powerful animal reined in. You know that animal could take out the whole mess of accusers if He was inclined. But He wasn't. That wasn't His purpose.

Isaiah 42: 1-2 says this better than I can: "Here is my Servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on Him and He will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out."

It's all there. The power and justice, but the restraint and care.  These verses describe the Messiah who was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth and baptized in the Jordan river by His cousin John. Like they were written after His life, they describe Him. Don't they?  Jesus did not shout or cry out--not at the people who judged him and mocked him. Not when they were singing His praises one day and calling for His death just five days later.  He stood there. But there too is the compassion He showed to those who most needed it, to the woman who touched his cloak and the one caught in adultery. He did not snuff them out when they were barely hanging on for dear life.

This IS the Messiah. This IS Jesus.  He is the One whom the prophets foretold.  When John the Baptist was in prison, waiting for his head to be served on a platter, he sent a couple of men to Jesus, asking if He was truly the One for whom they'd been waiting. John had known when he'd seen Him at the river, but anyone in a dark prison, contemplating death (and not even knowing how that death would come) might begin to wonder, so I have to give him a pass for his doubts. Jesus simply told those friends of John, "Tell him what's been going on. The blind see and the lame walk." Jesus didn't proclaim Himself with power, but left John to infer the answer for himself.

I'll do the same.  Jesus. Not the Mighty and Powerful as expected. But mighty and powerful as God intended.

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