If I were to sit with a group of scientists enthusiastically engaged in (their) shop talk, I would feel completely like one lost in space. Similarly, should I have the occasion to have breakfast with a small group of medical professionals, their jargon and procedural details would leave me either totally lost or totally grossed out (that whole TMI thing). The realm of military hierarchy with the near endless stream of acronyms, insider code words and peculiar protocols is likewise one where I would have little traction. Each of these ‘worlds’ is specific unto itself and is, to a large degree, alien and uninviting, to the uninitiated.
When Jesus burst onto the scene in Judea, he came as a Jew among Jews, as one of the hoi polloi, as one of their own, not a foreigner. The rulership he took as a given, was the same rulership the Jewish people should have taken as a given. He must have had shock after shock growing up to come to understand the mentality of ‘his’ people. How far astray they had gone from the early days as people of God, his Father and theirs! How far they had fallen from what the Scriptures said about the Messiah by the time he came! It was almost like they’d never read their own history, or certainly had never understood the message of their Prophets. So, it was like this: his world, and theirs, had diverged so greatly as to look and feel and sound like they were two different worlds altogether.
In Jewish thinking, God the Father had withered to become their historical, and religious, baseline, then shelved as they developed their own ‘lower court’ system of laws. The Messiah’s role had morphed into that of a bloodthirsty, avenging warrior, destroying all who stood in the way of the purity of the ‘Kingdom of God’ with the ultimate aim of restoring Israel’s sovereignty by annihilating Rome’s heavy-handed rule. The Divine Love Story throughout the entire writings of the Torah, the Prophets their books of History, and books of Poetry, had been ‘re-written’ to fit their culturally updated version of how thinsgs should be and how things should end.
The thrilling scope of Creation, the repeated, majestic works of the Father on their behalf, the deliverances, the fulfilled promises, the exile and restoration, the favor of foreign kings on their behalf, had all been neutered into folklore. They intoned the words of the Psalms without a heart understanding. The religious leaders were leading, but not along the paths set for them, not with a sense of the journey to the Father’s heart.
The condition of the world Jesus entered provides, for us, a cautionary tale. How easy, how comfortable, to re-script God’s plan into more manageable, free of mystery, less-challenging, chunks. How common, once that is accomplished, to find fault with God as He steadfastly refuses to get into lock-step with our Plan ‘B.’ I think if we listen closely, we’ll hear Him saying, “I have no Plan ‘B.’” I guess it’s back to Plan ”A.’ (And what a relief!) PD