Jesus did not come to discuss the Law nor to challenge the Roman Empire.
From Brennan Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel
In first-century Palestine, the people of Judea and Galilee fudged and hedged on the proclamation of the reign of God. Jesus announced that the old era was done, that a new age had dawned, and the only appropriate response was to be captivated with joy and wonder.
His listeners did not say, “Yes, Rabbi, we believe You,” or “No, Rabbi, we think You are a fool.” Rather, they said, “What about the sap-suckin’ Romans?” or “When are You going to produce an apocalyptic sign?” or “Why aren’t You and Your disciples within the Jewish Law?” or Whose side do You take in the various legal controversies?”
Jesus replied that the Romans were not the issue, the Law was not the issue, and cosmic miracles were not the issue. The relentless love of God was the issue, and in the face of that revelation, the Romans and the Torah were secondary. But His audience stubbornly refused to concede that the Torah could possibly be secondary or that the Roman domination of Palestine could be marginal. The Torah and Rome - these were the relevant issues, the gut problems. “What do you have to say about them, Rabbi?”
Once again Jesus responded that He did not come to discuss the Law nor to challenge the Roman Empire. He had come to herald the Good News that the Really Real is love and to invite men and women to a joyous response to that love.
Sober, hard-headed, realistic critics simply shook their heads. “Why doesn’t He address the critical questions?”
Since the day that Jesus first appeared on the scene, we have developed vast theological systems, organized world-wide churches, filled libraries with brilliant Christological scholarship, engaged in earthshaking controversies, and embarked on crusades, reforms, and renewals. Yet there are still precious few of us with sufficient folly to make the mad exchange of everything for Christ; only a remnant with the confidence to risk everything on the gospel of grace; only a minority who stagger about with the delirious joy of the man who found the buried treasure.
It was cynicism, pessimism, and despair that shadowed the ministry of Jesus and, as the old French proverb goes, “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose” - the more things change, the more they stay the same.
At the risk of sounding like a country cracker cowboy preacher, allow me to raise some intimate, personal questions about your relationship with Jesus of Nazareth.
Do you live each day in the blessed assurance that you have been saved by the unique grace of our Lord Jesus Christ?
After falling flat you face, are you still firmly convinced that the fundamental structure of reality is not works but grace?
Are you moody and melancholy because you are still striving for the perfection that comes from your own efforts and not from faith in Jesus Christ?
Are you shocked and horrified when you fail?
Are you really aware that you don’t have to change, grow, or be good to be loved?
Are you as certain of the triumph of good over evil as the fermentation of dough by yeast?
Though on a given day you may be more depressed than anything else, is the general orientation of your life toward peace and joy?
Are you diminished by other people’s perception of you and your own definition of yourself?
Do you possess that touch of folly to transcend doubt, fear, and self-hatred and accept that you are accepted?
Do not settle for anything more than Jesus lives for!!
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