The question I keep asking myself is whether Jesus was as reserved and soft-spoken as we customarily think of him. The common view has Jesus mingling with the crowds, healing the sick and telling simple stories about how we are to live. And he did that. Wherever he went the crowds gathered to hear what he had to say, bringing their loved ones for healing. But is that all? Lets think about that for a moment. Perhaps the text will provide a clearer picture of his life among us? I’d like you to consider his encounter with the religious leaders as recorded in Matthew 15 and Mark 7. (Quotes are from my Jesus in His Own Words).
One day some Pharisees and other religious authorities came to where Jesus was teaching. They noticed that his disciples had not washed their hands in the accepted ceremonially manner. One might expect that Jesus would quietly explain to them that people are not defiled from the outside, but from that which lies within. And he did, but not exactly in that reserved manner. He said, and I think he spoke with emphasis, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites . . . you honor me with your lips but your hearts are far from me” (Matt 15:7). Does this not expand the customary view of how Jesus related to others? It’s safe to say that it certainly raised the ire of the Jewish fundamentalists who were the targets of his criticism. The gentleness and humility that marked the life of Jesus (cf. Matt 11:12-29) did not rule out the use of stronger language when appropriate.
Immediately following this the disciples went to him and asked for an explanation of what he meant by being defiled from within. I have to think that the encounter with those he called hypocrites was still very much with him. In answer to the disciples’ query he retorted, “Are you as dull as the others?” The words he chose reveal how he felt, do they not?
So what does his reaction in both of these settings infer about how we should live a Christ-like life? One thing, it encourages us to think of Jesus as more “human,” than we normally do. Someday I really do want to hear Jesus laugh. I’m sure he did every time Peter came up with a new fish story. Why does goodness always have to be so saintly? We know that Jesus was fully God but he was also fully human; he was “tempted in every way just as we are — yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). I believe that regarding Jesus as one of us does not diminish his divinity in any way but encourages us to embrace how completely human he was. I believe Jesus wants us to celebrate what it means to be a redeemed human being. Plaster of Paris Christianity has attracted very few to the faith.