In Bible Study this week our leader asked us how we would feel meeting Jesus. Usually I think this would be a great idea, but as I reflected on it, I realised that I don’t think I really would want to meet Jesus. If I lived at the same time as Jesus I suspect I would be one of those religious people who rejected Jesus because we was speaking heresy or being too kind to sinners or something. But what if I met him some other way?
Sometimes I have fantasised about getting in a time machine and going back to meet Jesus, but that poses a number of problems. Like how would I know which ancient guy was actually Jesus? My ancient Greek isn’t good enough to do more than say a few different words for love with a broad Australian accent. And Jesus didn’t even speak Greek, he spoke Aramaic. I wouldn’t be able to ask who Jesus was, and he wouldn’t have spoken modern English. I would have no way to even understand what he was saying. So I think time travelling to Jesus wouldn’t work very well either.
But, even if somehow I met Jesus, in the flesh, and I recognised who he was and we could speak to each other, I still don’t think it’d go so well. I don’t actually think I’d like to meet Jesus. There are a number of reasons why.
Jesus probably wouldn’t answer my theological or life questions
When I was a teenager I used to wish I could just have a one-on-one chat with Jesus about my love life and he could tell me who to impress, how to impress them, and then I could live happily ever after with my love advice. But for a guy who was single his whole life, I suspect he wouldn’t have placed the same importance on my romantic fulfillment as I did as a 15-year-old.
Today I often wish I could get a straight answer out of him about what his plan for my life is, but we don’t see that happening much in Scripture except that time he told Peter how he was going to die, and I’d rather not hear that.
Even if I asked him to explain how predestination works or why God allows natural disasters, I expect he’d reply with some parable that I wouldn’t understand, but I’d pretend I did in the same way I pretend I understand Arthouse films with subtitles. Much like an Arthouse film, everything Jesus said would be lost on me.
While I like the idea of Jesus being my personal wise sage, I suspect he wouldn’t behave the way I’d want him to.
Jesus probably wouldn’t affirm my lifestyle
Jesus had a way of affirming the people who other people didn’t affirm and challenging the people who were pretty comfortable. I’m pretty comfortable. I like to think I’m living a life that honours God, but what if Jesus saw how I was living and suggested I sell all I have and give it to the poor? What if I made some suggestion that I thought would make life easier for everyone and Jesus said “Get behind me, Satan!”? Perhaps I would ask Jesus to settle a dispute for me and he’d call me out for my greediness or pride. Maybe Jesus would suggest that I leave everything and follow him, when I’m pretty happy keeping everything and following him. Or perhaps he would just forgive my sins when I very clearly wanted him to heal my rash. How dare he even talk about my sins anyway! Sins are a private matter between me and God.
Jesus had a way of making social situations very awkward
Remember that time Jesus went to dinner and told everyone off for trying to sit in the best seats? Or that time a sinful woman anointed his feet, and made everyone very uncomfortable, and to make matters worse Jesus accepted it as an act of worship, rather than publicly rebuking her for her sinful lifestyle? Or that time Jesus was hanging out with the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law and he called them “hypocrites”, “liars”, a “brood of vipers” and “whitewashed tombs”?
I really like everyone to get along, be polite, and just be nice to each other. But hanging out with Jesus would sometimes be very, very awkward. Awkward enough that he eventually got himself killed. I would keep wanting to apologise for Jesus, and I suspect that’s not the kind of thing his followers are meant to do.
Jesus demands more than I’m willing to give
As I’ve mentioned before, Jesus makes big demands on our lives. He wants our entire lives. And to tell you the truth, I’m often pretty happy just giving him some of my life. I suspect were I spending time with Jesus he’d ask me for more than I’m willing to give. Better I live with Jesus in heaven, and me here on earth and I can just convince myself that my commitment to Jesus is enough, and blame any misunderstanding on the distance.
Thank God for the Holy Spirit
I know what some of you are thinking “But you have met Jesus! Jesus comes to us by his Holy Spirit”. Thanks, Bible Nerds. You’re right, Jesus did send the Holy Spirit so we would not be alone. And what I’ve learnt in my time with him, is that Jesus does make big demands, and he does require more of me than I’m willing to give, but he’s also patient, he’s gracious, and he’s willing to forgive me for my pride, stubbornness and fearful timidity. Plus he helps me change. So while I know I don’t live up to Jesus’ standards now, and I know hanging out with Jesus in the flesh might not be as fun as I suspect it would be, I’m pretty glad that I still get to meet him in the Spirit. And he’s just as uncomfortable, challenging and helpful as I need him to be, whether I know what I need or not.
And one day I’m sure I will actually meet Jesus, in the flesh, and while I’m a little nervous about it, I’ll be ready. He’s made me ready and he’ll make me ready. He’s good like that.