This disturbing Jesus

Joy Cowley Jesus

People love him, there’s no doubt about that.

The Messiah, some say, while others blaspheme, calling him Son of God.

You wouldn’t think him worthy of any title, he looks so ordinary, a man in a simple tunic with a rope belt, an untidy beard.

Yet I have seen him heal a child with bones twisted from birth. What is the source of this power? Angelic or demomic?

Nothing in his appearance makes him different from the crowd around him. But this Jesus, is different in that he doesn’t see crowds.

He doesn’t even see groups.

People are individuals and it doesn’t matter to him if they’re clean or unclean, respectable or not.

Someone should point out that the man following him is that infamous tax collector Matthew.

I know teachers who walk in some places with eyes closed, lest they see a woman of ill repute.

Their faces bear marks of virtue from bumping into stone walls.

This Jesus, however, talks openly with such women.

One of the scribes took him to task. “Don’t you know she has a bad reputation?”

Jesus looked at him. “Who gave her the bad reputation?”

Although he talks much about love, his tongue is quick to cut through pretence or anything he sees as false doctrine.

I watch from a distance as other teachers and leaders try to engage him in conversation.

Mostly, they feel obliged to correct his error by bringing him back to the laws of Moses.

Is he grateful for their attention? Not in the slightest.

As a result, he has created much ill feeling among high-ranking Pharisees and Sadducees.

If they agree on one thing, it’s that Jesus is a trouble-maker.

Yes, I know they can be somewhat pompous, but why does this Nazarene argue with his own people when it’s the Romans who are the enemy?

He keeps talking about a loving God. It’s my opinion that he should be talking about an angry God who will send a plague on the Romans and he did to the Egyptians in Moses’ time.

That’s what this country needs.

What happens instead? Jesus heals the servant of a Roman centurion!

I stand apart from my Pharisee brothers, unable to form a fixed opinion about this Jesus. There is something in him that attracts me and makes me afraid.

Why fear?

Because I am a man of learning whose life is regulated by the Torah, and the words of this Jesus take me into unknown territory. Sometimes I think I am losing myself.

Then there are those healings. I see the tenderness in his eyes and hands as he gives new life to broken bodies and souls. That also disturbs me in a way that is beyond logic. I don’t know how to explain what I feel.

I must speak with him. Not when the crowds are around him.  Not while my brothers are watching.  Perhaps I will see him after sunset.

Good evening, Rabbi. My name is Nicodemus.

  • Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator.

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