Friday, September 6, 2013

Jesus Withdrew Again

“When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. (John 6:14-15 (ESV)
Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself, he would not be king. We don’t often understand this. Man is a political animal as Aristotle said. I think the curse of sin shows itself best in the fact that man trusts so much in law. We think we can fix everything with a law. Just make it illegal and the problem is solved, or make it legal and the problem is solved. Then we have our church bodies. I always marvel at how people think they can save synod with a bylaw. This is the way man operates. But it isn’t the way Jesus operates. He knows the limitation of law. It just can’t change a heart.
Jesus won’t be king. Everyone wanted him to be king. This lasted right up until the end. Everyone expected the Messiah to be king, except the Samaritans who thought he would be more of a teacher. They thought he would be the man to give them political freedom. It all played into Jewish myths at the time that talked about a millennium of perfect political rule and freedom for Israel. Yes, this dispensationalism, the pre-millenialism, the post-millenialism all build upon the Jewish Myths that Paul warned Titus against. It was this very reason that Jesus was missed as the Messiah. He didn’t do what they expected him to do. They wanted to make him king so he withdrew.
I sometimes wonder if the same isn’t true today when we try to make him king. By this I mean, when we use Jesus for political ends we turn him into a new Moses, and we miss his grace and mercy. Grace and mercy, the forgiveness of sins, these are lousy things to use in the realm of the law, in the running of a country. This world can’t operate on those things. Politics is all about law. But Jesus is about grace and mercy And and forgiveness. So it doesn’t matter if you are on the left or the right of an issue. Start making Jesus arbitrator and he is likely to just withdraw. He came for another purpose.
He didn’t come to start a political movement, and the church does well to avoid being that even today. Of course, this is easier said than done. The church is in the world, legislation effects it as an institution in this world, and sometimes the church has to speak on an issue to protect its own interests as it tries to care for those who belong to the church and even those who don’t belong to the church. Yet it should never forget that no matter which way the wind finally blows, its interests are the same, Grace, Mercy, and the forgiveness of sins. It is these things that Jesus came to bring, it is these things that change hearts. And when the hearts change than society changes, and sometimes then laws also. But that can’t be the end game, but merely a happy product of the endgame. The endgame is the individual freed from sin and death, saved to eternal life. It isn’t societal freedom that Jesus brings but personal freedom. A personal freedom that frees an individual from the law. And when one is freed from the law, then he learns not to rely on it so much. And then it is when we are freed from the law, that Jesus truly does become our king in the manner that he wants to be king, truly reigning over our hearts not with law that condemns, but with grace and mercy and the forgiveness of sins.

No comments: