Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Jesus: Not Just a Man of Sorrows

Below is a somewhat lengthy quote that I find intriguing and thought-provoking:

"On the one hand, [Jesus is] someone who left everything for the sake of the kingdom of God and lived in conditions that seem quite severe in their austerity. In this presentation, Jesus was displaced, sorrowful, and heavy-laden with the burden of this self-imposed way of life. He blessed the poor and was relentless, even to his own peril, in his condemnation of the rich and their lives of prosperity. He was the Son of Man with no place to lay his head. He lacked all feeling for worldly ties of any kind, and he urgently commanded other people to come out of the world, to leave everything and to follow him on his difficult way of faith into God's eternal kingdom. Meanwhile, he pressed on, rejected of men, toward death on the cross.

But on the other side, as it were, there was a Jesus whom Christian moral tradition has largely ignored. He was anything but austere. This Jesus was celebrative, he was the Son of Man who came eating and drinking with his lost people, now found. He lacked all moderation or pious restraint. He celebrated life with such intensity and abandon that it shocked members of the religious establishment. To their wooden souls, his life was embarrassing for the way it broke the constraints of polite moral convention.

They did not see him as anything like a "man of sorrows, acquainted with grief". Rather, they saw him as shamelessly acquainted with tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners. And for all these reasons good people gossiped that he was that wanton son of Deuteronomy, a drunkard and a glutton whose behavior was so destructive of virtue that he should be put to death.

But to his disciples and to the multitudes, to be with him was nothing of the kind. His very presence brought the warmth of new life -- freedom, camaraderie, peace, good cheer, and a mood of joyous celebration that could not be contained by the old wineskins of tradition. In leaving everything to be with him they got everything back many times over. In fellowship with him, they feasted and flourished as never before."

What do you think of this quote? Is it an accurate assessment of Jesus? Is the author correct in saying that Christian moral tradition has largely ignored a side of Jesus' character?

Leave a comment and weigh in with your thoughts...


  1. The character and personality of God is highly complex. When you think you know Him, He does something that surprises us!

    His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts! Very humbling.

  2. One reader emailed me after trying unsuccessfully to leave a comment several times. This person wrote:

    i like the quote and am glad for his thoughts, but i think the author may be throwing out the baby with the bathwater--the "baby" being the burden Jesus carried with him, because after all, Jesus came to commiserate with broken people and to die for the sin. that's heavy, and i'm sure was heavy for Jesus. it seemed the author was too zealous for a celebrating Jesus to the detriment of the grieving Jesus. we're still groaning along with the celebrating, but not nearly as well as Jesus did it.