Here we get a really detailed prophecy of the Messiah. ‘Despised, rejected, nothing beautiful about him’ (whoever illustrated Jesus as a blue-eyed, flawless blonde missed this). Who would believe that God would intentionally save humanity with a humble, suffering servant? Well, Israel didn’t. Historically, they rejected this idea continually and expected to succeed through military power at the hand of a glorious, powerful king.
Often times in the New Testament, when it’s recorded that Jesus performed a miracle, it’s followed by “don’t tell anyone what you’ve seen”. I find this weird (so did William Wrede, who dubbed this the messianic secret in 1901). Why wouldn’t he want his power proclaimed? His name anchored to the miracles being performed?
Because the gospel is upside down.
The gospel embraces suffering, even finds joy in it, while humanity tries to find a remedy for even the slightest discomfort. The gospel says your belongings don’t matter, they will break, get stolen or rust. Culture tells us we are what we own. The gospel is Jesus winning, by losing.
In John 13, it reads: “Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash his disciples feet, drying them with the towel he had around him”.
All power and authority is bestowed upon him, and he gets up from his last meal with his beloved friends, crouches onto the floor, and washes the bottom of their feet with his bare hands.
I read this and I realize how often I get it backwards.
The gospel is not:
Insisting on your own way. Outward beauty. Arguing. Jockeying for power. Idolizing authority. Wanting to win. Loving possessions. Serving yourself.
The gospel is:
Putting others first. Letting God defend you instead of defending yourself. Humility. Prioritizing the poor. Loving your enemies.
One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes is when George Constanza’s life drastically changes for the good because he does the complete opposite of his first instinct. Excuse the crass comparison, but maybe there’s something to grab from this.
My instincts are often the opposite of what Jesus modeled for us. But the more time I spend in the Bible, the more I understand who God is and who he wants us to be.
Today, hesitate before acting on your first instinct and evaluate it. Does it line up with the gospel? (Enter: 1990’s WWJD bracelets)
This post is highly inspired by a conversation I had with my husband over breakfast this morning, before he even had a sip of coffee. Thanks, love!