Sunday, December 27, 2009

Looking for the Messiah

Max Lucado

I received this in my email on Christmas Eve, and as so often happens, I wanted to share it with you. Imagine the Son of God in your church today. That's what Max Lucado does in this excerpt from his book A Gentle Thunder.
SUPPOSE JESUS CAME to your church. I don’t mean symbolically. I mean visibly. Physically. Actually. Suppose he came to your church.

Would you recognize him? It might be difficult. Jesus didn’t wear religious clothes in his day. Doubtful that he would wear them in ours. If he came today to your church, he’d wear regular clothes. Nothing fancy, just a jacket and shoes and a tie. Maybe a tie … maybe not.

He would have a common name. “Jesus” was common. I suppose he might go by Joe or Bob or Terry or Elliot.

Elliot … I like that. Suppose Elliot, the Son of God, came to your church.

Of course, he wouldn’t be from Nazareth or Israel. He’d hail from some small spot down the road like Hollow Point or Chester City or Mt. Pleasant.

And he’d be a laborer. He was a carpenter in his day. No reason to think he’d change, but let’s say he did. Let’s say that this time around he was a plumber. Elliot, the plumber from Mt. Pleasant.

God, a plumber?

Rumor has it that he fed a football field full of people near the lake. Others say he healed a senator’s son from Biloxi. Some say he’s the Son of God. Others say he’s the joke of the year. You don’t know what to think.

And then, one Sunday, he shows up.

About midway through the service he appears in the back of the auditorium and takes a seat. After a few songs he moves closer to the front. After yet another song he steps up on the platform and announces, “You are singing about me. I am the Son of God.” He holds a Communion tray. “This bread is my body. This wine is my blood. When you celebrate this, you celebrate me!”

What would you think?

Would you be offended? The audacity of it all. How irreverent, a guy named Elliot as the Son of God!

Would you be interested? Wait a minute, how could he be the Son of God? He never went to seminary, never studied at a college. But there is something about him …

Would you believe? I can’t deny it’s crazy. But I can’t deny what he has done.

It’s easy to criticize contemporaries of Jesus for not believing in him. But when you realize how he came, you can understand their skepticism.

Jesus didn’t fit their concept of a Messiah. Wrong background. Wrong pedigree. Wrong hometown. No Messiah would come from Nazareth. Small, hick, one-stoplight town. He didn’t fit the Jews’ notion of a Messiah, and so, rather than change their notion, they dismissed him.

He came as one of them. He was Jesus from Nazareth. Elliot from Mt. Pleasant. He fed the masses with calloused hands. He raised the dead wearing bib overalls and a John Deere Tractor cap.

Excerpted fromThey expected lights and kings and chariots from heaven. What they got was sandals and sermons and a Galilean accent.

And so, some missed him.

And so, some miss him still.

From A Gentle Thunder
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1987) Max Lucado


Joshua S. said...

What a delightful piece! And thought provoking in the extreme! And it just so happens that as I was reading it, my CD player was playing IF JESUS DROVE A MOTOR HOME by Christian singer-songwriter Jim White. Coincidence? Hmm...

Now, I may be flattering myself here when I say that I THINK I might be open to recognizing Elliot the Plumber as the Son of God...maybe.

I love kids, that is to say, I prefer the company of children to that of adults. And children have always been drawn to me. At social events and parties, I inevitably end up playing with the kids down in the rec room.

In Hollywood movies, children see dead people.

In real life, I find Jesus in children...all the time.

As I've gotten older, I find Jesus speaking to me through other people...all the time.

You cannot find what you aren't looking for. Ergo, seek and ye shall find.

Nowadays, I find Jesus is wherever I look for Him.

Becasue I have searched for Jesus my entire life, Jesus has been my constant companion - even during those times when I thought I was alone (and lonely).

In hindsight, I can see the hand of Jesus in everything I have lived through.

I cannot count the number of times I encountered Jesus speaking to me through others. Let me explain via one small example that pops to mind.

It was 1978. My wife and I had been married a couple of years, and she was VERY pregnant with our first child. We driving through the New York state countryside. It was leate in the Fall. It was bitterly cold and past 11:00 p.m. as we drove through some little town. Suddenly - out of the proverbial nowhere - a man staggered into the street directly in front of us. I slammed on the brakes as the man stumbled and fell smack in the middle of the road. Absolutely enraged by the man's actions, I got out of my car and rushed towards the fallen figure on the road. I am not precisely certain of what I was thinking, but it was NOT good thoughts.

When I reached the man seconds later, the stench of alcohol on him was so strong that even the brisk wind couldn;t blow it away. I "saw red" and began shaking the man, shouting that he'd almost gotten himself - gotten ALL of us - killed. In as clear a voice as I have ever heard, he opened his eyes and said: "I knew you would come, Jesus. I'm so cold and I wanted to die. Thank you for the blanket, Jesus. Thank you for the warmth. Thank you. So much. I love you, my sweet Jesus." Then his eyes closed and he slipped into unconsciousness.

--- end of Part One ---

Joshua S. said...

--- Part Two ---

I retrieved the polar blanket from the trunk of my car and wrapped the man up. With my wife, help, we loaded him into the back seat and drove to the local police station. There, we explained what had happened and asked the officer on duty for his help. The young officer quickly dispatched one of his colleagues to our vehicle, and the drunken man was removed and placed in a county jail cell for the night for his own protection. As the young officer passed by supporting this drunken man, the latter looked directly into my eyes and slurred, "Thank you, Jesus. I knew you'd come..."

A short time later, as we drove away, my wife said something that almost made me veer off the road. "Isn't it beautiful how such a broken man can have such unbroken faith in Jesus? He wasn't too drunk to recognize how Jesus can work through us, was he, Joshua? Jesus does indeed save, doesn't He?"

Now you perhaps understand why I often marvel at my wife's "angelic take" on things. In my anger at the events that had just transpired, I hadn't stopped to examine what really happened. My wife's words were like an alarm clock ringing at deafening volume.

Later, as we lay snug in our bed at a "better" motel, we talked into the morning about what had really happened. My wife reflected upon the "divine intervention" she perceived to be at work in her own everyday life in so many ways. As I listened to her ramble on about the many ways she saw Jesus and the Holy Spirit at work every day, I silently thanked God for sending me this wonderful angel who had become my lifelong spiritual partner and wife. As I slipped into sleep with my hand gently stroking our growing child within her, the last words I heard her say were "Jesus lives there, too, Joshua. Our baby has been nurtured on nothing but the Lord's prayers..."

My conviction that Jesus actually lives is absolute. I BELIEVE that Jesus lives now - today - on this earth, and works tirelessly to protect His flock in innumerable tiny and enormous ways. And because that is what I believe, I like to THINK that I would recognize Elliot the Plumber as the Son of God should I ever look into His eyes. And I pray every day that I will know and recognize my Lord Jesus Christ the Saviour at work in my life when next I open my eyes...