Jesus said, "I have come that you may have life and that you may have it to the full/ more abundantly", depending on which translation of the bible you are reading. He didn’t say, “I have come to bore you to death with preaching”, nor did he promise to impress you with long arguments, or even to entertain you with a lifelong cabaret. Surprisingly, he did not promise to start a world religion or build a cathedral either; he did however, promise to bring good news to the poor. He set out a manifesto based on Isaiah 61, written seven centuries before his arrival. It looks pretty radical and very exciting—blind people seeing and people set free from oppression. It also looks impossible—like outrageous hyperbole—in fact, unless he is capable of some things we are not.
Jesus was always on the move. He promised one would-be-follower, a life of no abode, leave aside a fixed one. He walked ahead of crowds, he walked surrounded by crowds, he walked straight into crowds; sometimes he walked far away from crowds deep into solitary places to find some time alone with his Father. He walked the hot grimy Middle Eastern streets, he walked the cool polished marble floors of the tax collector's home, he even walked on the surface of the water, whilst the laws of physics obligingly accommodated the one who had penned them in the first place. You could find him in the temple discussing ancient scriptures with the learned, you could find him crouched by a semi naked prostitute; drawing in the dust; silently holding back a bloody lynch mob. You might look for him on a hillside feeding thousands from a boy’s packed lunch, or perhaps cooking fresh fish on a charcoal barbecue for his fishermen friends.
You would always remember what Jesus said, even if it didn’t completely make sense. You would remember your heart beating faster as he spoke, strangely drawn to his cryptic stories. When he spoke your name, or called you from the crowd, you would never forget the intoxicating sense of anticipation—anything might happen: Jesus is calling. He spoke, and it was as though the very words contained life in themselves. As his living syllables hung suspended in the air, then reverberated around the room or multitude, miracles crackled like static before a thunderstorm. This was not just a good orator, this was the Word himself—the essence of the invisible Creator God compressed into a suit of skin.
One thing Jesus was not, was mediocre. Jesus was like fire: comforting and warming to the cold shivering shipwrecked sailor, but a terrifying possibility to the farmer as he fills his barn with fresh hay. Jesus challenged the status quo; he shone his unflinching light onto religious and political hypocrisy wherever he saw it. He was the champion of the widow and orphan, belonging to no one. He was the inspired interpreter of scriptures torn apart by religious dogma fights for generations. His soundbites are borrowed and reused by politicians, playwrights and parents 2000 years on. He still requires a life of surrender from those who will accept his invitation to follow. He still calls artisans, chefs, nurses and labourers to leave their agendas for his. Jesus still calls his followers to make disciples of nations. Whole nations. Of course, that must be hyperbole too, unless, of course he is capable of some things we are not.
One thing the church slips into more easily than heresy is mediocrity. Jesus calls it lukewarmness. It’s so disappointing when we take a refreshing sip of warm water, warm beer or warm Cabernet Sauvignon, for that matter. Some things should be hot, some things should be cold. Followers of Jesus should be hot enough to start a fire and cool enough to quench the thirst. He has given us the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead to power-up our daily lives. Let’s fall in love with the passionate Jesus of the gospels and allow his passion to ignite our own. Let us take the blazing heart of Jesus into our places of work. Let us love like the champion lover of the universe; laying down our lives for one another and even people we don’t know. Let this love conquer our fear of failure and looking foolish, so that we step out onto the water and live this life where the impossible becomes possible.