SUPPOSE JESUS CAME to your church. I don’t mean symbolically. I mean visibly. Physically. Actually. Suppose he came to your church.
Would you recognize him? It might be difficult. Jesus didn’t wear religious clothes in his day. Doubtful that he would wear them in ours. If he came today to your church, he’d wear regular clothes. Nothing fancy, just a jacket and shoes and a tie. Maybe a tie … maybe not.
He would have a common name. “Jesus” was common. I suppose he might go by Joe or Bob or Terry or Elliot.
Elliot … I like that. Suppose Elliot, the Son of God, came to your church.
Of course, he wouldn’t be from Nazareth or Israel. He’d hail from some small spot down the road like Hollow Point or Chester City or Mt. Pleasant.
And he’d be a laborer. He was a carpenter in his day. No reason to think he’d change, but let’s say he did. Let’s say that this time around he was a plumber. Elliot, the plumber from Mt. Pleasant.
God, a plumber?
Rumor has it that he fed a football field full of people near the lake. Others say he healed a senator’s son from Biloxi. Some say he’s the Son of God. Others say he’s the joke of the year. You don’t know what to think.
And then, one Sunday, he shows up.
About midway through the service he appears in the back of the auditorium and takes a seat. After a few songs he moves closer to the front. After yet another song he steps up on the platform and announces, “You are singing about me. I am the Son of God.” He holds a Communion tray. “This bread is my body. This wine is my blood. When you celebrate this, you celebrate me!”
What would you think?
Would you be offended? The audacity of it all. How irreverent, a guy named Elliot as the Son of God!
Would you be interested? Wait a minute, how could he be the Son of God? He never went to seminary, never studied at a college. But there is something about him …
Would you believe? I can’t deny it’s crazy. But I can’t deny what he has done.
It’s easy to criticize contemporaries of Jesus for not believing in him. But when you realize how he came, you can understand their skepticism.
Jesus didn’t fit their concept of a Messiah. Wrong background. Wrong pedigree. Wrong hometown. No Messiah would come from Nazareth. Small, hick, one-stoplight town. He didn’t fit the Jews’ notion of a Messiah, and so, rather than change their notion, they dismissed him.
He came as one of them. He was Jesus from Nazareth. Elliot from Mt. Pleasant. He fed the masses with calloused hands. He raised the dead wearing bib overalls and a John Deere Tractor cap.
They expected lights and kings and chariots from heaven. What they got was sandals and sermons and a Galilean accent.
And so, some missed him.
And so, some miss him still.
From A Gentle Thunder