‘Bold,’ ‘Daring,’ ‘Fearless,’ ‘Courageous,’ ‘Willing to risk,’ ‘Not restrained by shame.’ These are dictionary definitions for the word, ‘audacious.’ I think of pioneers settling in new lands, builders working with untried materials, scientists discovering new medical treatments, astronauts flying away to distant planets – all, pushing the envelope, thrilled at the prospect of success, ignoring criticisms of the naysayers. I have to ask myself if these words are appropriate for describing Jesus while he was here on mission. My conclusion? Yes! Jesus was all those things. And he joined our world at a time when all these descriptors were extremely dangerous for the Jews. They were well versed in the vengeful repercussions of a heartless Roman government that considered this people group, these Jews, to be about as welcome as a cluster migraine.
Jesus’ audacious behavior, perhaps surprisingly, grated on the status quo of the Jewish religious elite far more than it did on the Romans soldiers trolling the streets of Judea. His arrival was quiet enough. His first thirty years went by well under the radar. But, from the moment of his near ill-fated comments following his reading of Isaiah in the synagogue in Nazareth, his preaching, teachings, and healings, created a furor in Jerusalem and ultimately put a price on his head.
It’s a great read, really. An underdog from an underdog group of people defies the establishment. He didn’t only overturn tables, turn water into wine, turn a little boy’s lunch into a feast for a multitude, turn Scripture back on Scripture ‘experts,’ turn a meek people into a growing movement of devoted followers, turn heads when he said he was before Abraham, turn the mob of rulers into a mob of murderers when he declared that he was God, he also audaciously accepted death on a cross to liberate us from sin and the grave.
Now reigning at the right hand of God the Father for all eternity, he invites us to pick up his audacious mantle, announcing the presence of the Kingdom, the Kingdom whose light still pierces the darkness, still advances, still liberates, still speaks a word in our day. Question: If the meek inherit the earth, what do the audacious inherit?? Let’s go find out, y’all! PD