I wonder if when Jesus was 12 in the temple, talking to the religious leaders and asking such good questions that everyone who heard him was amazed, if any of the young teachers of the law present that day were also present 18 years later when that 12 year old boy was all grown up and started calling those leaders “broods of vipers” and “whitewashed tombs” and so on.
I wonder if any of the Pharisees Jesus tangled with later in life were the same ones that were amazed at him before, when his folks accidentally left him behind in Jerusalem and then found him teaching in the temple?
I’m asking this because I know it to be true–I’ve experienced it myself–that Jesus can be quite amazing and awe-inspiring when we first start following him, but then pretty frustrating and inconvenient later.
For instance, when we first follow Jesus, the idea of being forgiven of our sins is one that we all find quite awesome. No one else offers that deal, so we sign up. We’re gung-ho for Jesus in times like this. Who wouldn’t be?
But later, when He asks us to break up with our girlfriend or quit our high-paying job to go live in the slums or stop worshipping our comfort and convenience, he’s pretty annoying. We tend to resist him in times like that.
I was thinking about this as I read the Gospel of Luke and thinking about how even though everyone thinks I walk with Jesus pretty closely, there are plenty of times I wish he’d leave me alone. I’m not exaggerating…I’m telling you the truth.
Sometimes, don’t you just wish Jesus would mind his own business? I prefer a palatable blend of his will and my own, not a complete surrender to his. I would rather consult him when I have a problem but not have him butting in uninvited fairly constantly with his opinion on things. I am not alone. Most modern American Christians live the same way. We keep Jesus around like we keep our retirement accounts — we’re banking on him for our secure future, but other than checking on things a few times a year, we don’t give it much thought.
It’s all pretty convicting, when you slow down long enough to think about it a little deeper. If I’m completely honest, while I would say I love Jesus and trust Jesus and want to live for Jesus, and I mean all that in a certain sense, it is also true that if you just watched my life you’d see a guy who is mildly annoyed by Jesus half the time.
What has Jesus been “pestering” you about that you keep resisting?
Do you insist on brushing off the Lord when it’s increasingly clear what he’s calling you to do?
Do you really think Jesus is going to give up on you, when you’re so close to doing the right thing?
If you don’t sense that Jesus is a little inconvenient, a little disquieting, just a tad bit uncomfortable, is it possible you’re not following him closely enough?
If I were a Pharisee who encountered Jesus when he was 12 and again 30, I would be tempted to think that he had changed a lot since I heard him last. What Jesus said at 12 sounded impressive, while what he told me when he was 30 was invasive and personal.
Like that Pharisee, we must resist the temptation to think Jesus has changed in some way. His teaching has always been invasive in personal. Indeed, it is we who change — building walls to keep Jesus at bay and keep our comfort in tact. If he was awe-inspiring at first but now seems annoying, we do well to examine our own hearts, because we’re the ones who have changed.
May our walls fall down.
May our resistance grow thin.
May Jesus’ break through with all his truth and invade our hearts like he did when we heard him for the first time.
Keep molding and shaping us, Lord. Even when we want you to stop.
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