I am often amazed at the difference between people’s perception of Jesus and the real Jesus revealed in the Bible. One of the reasons I enjoy Mark Driscoll is that he absolutely nails this distinction between popular conceptions of Jesus and Jesus in the New Testament.
Jesus was tender with the woman at the well in John 4, but relentlessly pushed her to realize her need for living water. Jesus was consistently short and sarcastic with only one group of folks. The religious leaders. He called them an evil and adulterous generation seeking after a sign when they asked him to perform a miracle in the heavens.
One of my favorite examples of Jesus tweaking the religious leaders is in John 9 when he healed the man blind from birth. Jesus reached down and got some dirt, spat on it and rubbed it together a second to make mud. then he rubbed the mud on the man’s eyes and told the man to go wash it off in the pool of Siloam. kind of weird. never healed any other blind person like that.
Why did he do this whole mud making thing? The answer is revealed in verse 14. “Now it was the Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud….” Ah ha! He did it to reveal the heart of the pharisees! A tremendous miracle has occurred and sight has been restored. But the pharisees don’t give two cents about that. The rest of the chapter is devoted to the pharisees’ investigation of Jesus’ Sabbath breaking crime by “kneading”.
Jesus deliberately chose a method of healing to demonstrate for everyone the disconnect between what the pharisees thought was important versus what was truly life changing. He did it deliberately to tweak them. He did it deliberately to provoke them.
I love it. This Jesus from scripture hasn’t penetrated the popular consciousness.
JD Greear has some thoughts about Jesus denunciation of the pharisees in Matthew 23. I also love this chapter because it is so much at odds with the popular picture of Jesus as some long haired glassy eyed hippy.
JD is wondering if Jesus isn’t also denouncing most of us. Ouch:
I can write about these things because they have described me so well. Not just in the past, but many of these are my own tendencies now.
My whole point is this: pharisaism is alive and well and at work in the church. Especially in Baptist churches.