Warning: the following post contains spoilers about Harry Potter, if you haven’t read the books yet and would like to at some point in time, you should consider not reading any further.
27th March 2013
So at small group this year, we’ve been trying to look at the bible from an objective point of view, without any of our previous bias, or without our Sunday school or just plain Christian ‘lenses’ on. It’s actually been quite fun, with a whole lot of off conversations that go completely off tangents, but that’s what makes it personal and relatable.
On this particular Wednesday we were looking at the final ‘moments’ in Matthew, and we were looking to see whether, by worldly standards, Jesus was portrayed as having “awesomekingpointfactors’ or ‘loserfoolfactors’. Which was actually pretty interesting, as we were continually compared Jesus to your typical, heroic Aragorns.
So first of all, Jesus gets bound and led away to be delivered to Pilate. This one’s pretty straight forward. He’s not even being delivered to Caesar, it’s just the governor. Definitely not an awesome factor.
Secondly, Judas hangs himself, after betraying Jesus, and there was a pretty mixed view on this. On one hand no one would hang themself after betraying a ‘nobody’ so it therefore this Jesus guy must have been ‘something’ in order for Judas to feel so much guilt and shame. Then again, Jesus just got betrayed. That’s not the best thing in the world, bit of a bad luck brian situation there. Loserfoolpoints.
Next, the crowd save/release the notorious prisoner Barabbas and crucify Jesus. Not very King like.
Jesus is flogged, mocked and stripped. Once again, not very kingly points.
Jesus is crucified, jeered at, and his cast lots over his garments. Some could argue here, that the fact that they pay so much attention in mocking him, and calling him King of the Jews, would indicate that he is somewhat better than the average Joe, but at the end of the day, this whole situation is still quite a mockery and doesn’t really portray Jesus in a very kingly light.
Jesus dies. Now on one hand, at some point in time, every king in the stories we read, die. On the other hand, in some cheesy way their ‘legacy’ lives on. It’s always a stunning ceremony or valiant warlike death, with a beautiful slow, yet powerful song playing in the background. Well this one isn’t quite like that.
Then all of a sudden, the curtain of the temple is town in two, an earthquake occurs, and people were suddenly filled with awe saying that ‘Truly this was the Son of God.’ Definite awesome points here.
And finally, Jesus rises from the dead. Now I think this definitely tops the charts. To conquer death is definitely one of those points that make someone ridiculously awesome, and there’s not too much that you can argue about that.
So what we have leading up to the death (and resurrection) of Jesus, is a whole lot of situations where Jesus is being portrayed as, let’s face it, a pretty pathetic guy. Nobody really likes him, he’s getting backstabbed by the people who he thought was closest to him, and he gets mocked, flogged, and killed. So it’s a bit awkward isn’t it, if Jesus was the awesome guy that we think he is, why was he so pathetic leading up to his death. Why wasn’t he defiant against Pilate and the crowd, when they accused him?
And this is where Harry Potter comes in. Bear with me. In Harry Potter, one of the biggest twists to the story line revealed in the Deathly Hallows isn’t the existence of the hallows. Neither is it that Harry is the final horcrux, we had all assumed that was coming. But the major twist was when we learn about Severus Snape. Now all along, we’ve all hated Snape, he was the mean professor who had a grudge against Harry’s father, and was taking it out on Harry because he’s a low life, pathetic guy. Additionally, we know he was a death eater, refused to give Harry occlumency lessons, and killed Albus Dumbledore. Yet as he dies, Snape gives Harry the opportunity to see his past, and we learn that Snape did everything, for Harry. That Snape was a good guy all along. I’m not going to go into intentions, because I don’t like that part, but the point is, all of sudden you look back, and all the moments where you want to hate on Snape for being a pathetic, and a low life, all those moments were for good. And honestly, it’s like game changing, all of a sudden when you go back and you reread the books, you’re whole view changes. Yes, at the end of the day Snape is still human, and you he still has greasy yucky hair, but ultimately you see him as a hero, and not the scumbag you had previously thought he was.
And that’s pretty much exactly what we have here. By the world’s standard, the events leading up to Jesus’ death reveal him to be some sort of loser who everyone hates on. And he does really weird or what seems to be pathetic things: he doesn’t stand up for himself, he doesn’t confront his betrayer (even though he knows who it is), and he dies. But what comes next, changes everything before it. The tearing of the curtain in the temple, and Jesus’ resurrection make a mockery of all the trivial situations that came before. The ultimate statement of failure in death is utterly crushed by the resurrection and the trials before we’re simply His sacrifice for the good of mankind. Game changing stuff.
Over the next couple of posts I’m going to be blogging about what I learn at small group. Now it’s not that my small group is better than yours (although you’ll never catch me saying that, because let’s face it, mine’s better than yours), but small group has just been really, really ridiculously cool. It’s something that not only do I want to share, but I also just want to get down my thoughts in writing, to hopefully solidify what I think, for maybe some later reflection at a point in time.
Here we go.
So one thing I’ve been thinking/pondering/exploring/contemplating of what it means to have joy in God. I’ve just recently finished going through a series on Habbakuk by Matthew Chandler, and it’s been one of the catalysts that have really given me a drive to explore, desire and thirst for real joy in God that “drives out” everything. However, by ‘drive out’ I don’t mean a type of joy that takes up so much of my everything that I have no joy for anything else, and therefore every other aspect of my life can not be enjoyed, rather, a joy that is so powerful that it worldly joy has no standing before it.
I think that this is the joy that Paul has, and that Paul frequently talks about, particularly in Philippians. Counting everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus is his Lord. However, when I take a proper and honest look at the joy that I have, I can say that I sadly don’t have a similar joy in Christ. Paul’s joy was phenomenal, the amount of trust, fear and awe in God that he had is something I truly thirst and hunger after. After going through so much, he so adamantly praised and adored God, and I hope that I may also have the same.
I think that it’s very easy to have joy in the high moments, but I think that this is the trap that I particularly fall into.
"God is awesome, He got me through high school"
"God is awesome, He got me the marks I needed in the HSC"
"God is awesome, He got me into the the course and university I wanted"
"God is awesome, He got me the marks thus far in university"
"God is awesome, He helped me pass all my subjects this semester"
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think that what God does for me is quite frankly ridiculously gracious, amazing and awesome. However, it is when I begin to focus too much on what God does that I begin to lose sight of who God is. You see, because whilst God is awesome when he does good stuff for me, when something fails, when something goes wrong… the phrase changes. It becomes “God is sovereign, despite my fails at uni.” Again, I’m not saying that God ISN’T sovereign, but yet deep down, I know the the statement speaks wonders about my true attitude towards the Creator and Lover of my Soul.
Because when I begin to get into this mindset that God is only awesome, great, magnificent when He does things for my worldly benefit, I begin to change his character to suit me. Consequently, when God gives me a thorn (2 Corinthians 12) where will my joy be? Will I still even have joy? Paul did. His contentment and joy was in Christ and who He is, and therefore what he does.
Paul’s passion and desire for God was something that I definitely look to and am greatly encouraged by. Yet at the same time, as I aspire to have a joy and contentment similar to him, I almost begin to idolise it, and place it in a position in my mind that I subconsciously believe to be unattainable. Such joy that renders any action against oneself to be utterly useless. Paul was almost untouchable, you could not do anything to the man. You put him in prison, he converts your guards. You stone him and he just gets back up and keeps preaching the gospel. You make him suffer, and he says that he would gladly boast in his weaknesses. He gets shipwrecked, 3 times. One of those times, he ends up on an island and then gets bitten by a snake… and yet still, he continues to boast in his weaknesses, that the power of Christ may overshadow him. Like, oh my goodness. Talk about testing of patience. I can’t help but imagine myself in the situation; I would so easily grumble, and have sinful thoughts, hidden under a blanket statement of God being sovereign, as though to coerce myself into feeling better.
I fail to completely and honestly acknowledge, that God is always sovereign, always in control, always awesome, always wonderful, always amazing, always loving, always my Father. If I continue to be disillusioned and think that God is simply to please and aid me in this world, when God begins to sharpen and discipline me, I will mistake His discipline and love for something else, consequently developing a distorted view of Him. To have true joy and contentment in Christ, means to take the light off what God does for me, and instead to focus on who God is. In doing that, nothing that happens in this world will affect how I see and relate to God. When focusing on God and finding joy in who He is, there can be nothing that shakes that joy, because what ever happens in this world, God is always God.
Therefore, may I seek a joy and contentment in who my Father is, and how he loves, and not solely in what he does. Because God is Awesome. Period.
Reality Check: Heaven is not a house of mirrors.
Time to get over myself.
— Bill Johnson
This is an excerpt from the book “When Heaven Invades Earth - A Practical guide to a Life of Miracles” by Bill Johnson. If I didn’t tag you on Facebook, it’s not that I don’t value your opinion, or that you are not allowed comment, or even read this. It’s merely the fact that I had certain people in mind when I was thinking about this, and consequently I would love to hear their opinion.
This book talks about bringing Heaven to Earth. The fact that we were intended to rule over the earth, under God. This means that we should ‘work the land’ and glorify God through that, bringing “Heaven to Earth”
I didn’t tag you/write this to try to coerce you into believing what this book has to say, but I would just love your opinions or thoughts on the matter. I’ll talk more about that after though. Here is the excerpt: Bill Johnson’s “When Heaven Invades Earth” - Chapter 2 (beginning).
Jesus of Nazereth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs which God did through Him in your midst…” Acts 2:22
Jesus could not heal the sick. Neither could He deliver the tormented from demons or raise the dead. To beleive otherwise is to ignore what He said about Himself, and more importantly, to miss the purpose of His self-imposed restriction to live as a man.
Jesus Christ said of Himself, “The Son can do nothing,” John 5:19. In the Greek language that word nothing has a unique meaning - it means NOTHING, just like it does in English! He had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever! While He is 100 percent God, He chose to live with the same limitations that man would face once He was redeemed. He made that point over and over again. Jesus became the model for all who would embrace the invitation to invade the impossible in His name. He performed miracles, wonders, and signs, as a man in right relationship to God… not as God. If He performed the miracles because He was God, then they would be unattainable for us. But if He did them as a man, I am responsible to pursue His lifestyle. Recapturing this simple truth changes everything… and makes possible a full restoration of the ministry of Jesus in His Church.
What were the distinctions of His humanity?
- He had no sin to separate Him from the Father
- He was completely dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit working through Him
What are the distinctions of our humanity?
- We are sinners cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Through His sacrifice He has successfully dealt with the power and effect of sin for all who believe. Nothing now separates us from the Father. There remains only one unsettled issue-
- How dependent on the Holy Spirit are we willing to live?
(He goes on to talk about how we were created to have authority, under God, over this world, and that through Jesus, we still have that authority. Luke 10:19 - “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you”. And what is the power of the enemy, that which entered the world post-fall, evil. Which in greek is Poneros, coming from ponos, which comes from penes. Meaning evil/sin, pain, and poor, respectively.)
Now I’m sure there are many questions that you have in response to this. I’ll share with you some of my thoughts first.
When I first read the opening sentences, there were alarms going off in my head. Some of it didn’t just sit right with me. Yet the more I think about it, the more it fits. Jesus was 100% Man 100% God, yet he only did miraculous things after he received the Holy Spirit. It was only once He was empowered by the Holy Spirit. If we are Spirit filled and led Christians, are we not also empowered by the Holy Spirit?
Some of you are probably thinking, “So what? Why does this matter? Shouldn’t we be content with what God has given us already?”, and I can totally see where you’re coming from. But if we are truly Spirit led Christians, who are empowered by God to have authority over this world, being in a perfect relationship with God, having authority to trample over the enemy, then shouldn’t we live like that? Additionally, in response to the “shouldn’t we be content with what God has given us” question, God has given us the Holy Spirit. Shouldn’t we try to use and live in step with Him as much as we can, instead of boxing Him in? It’s like we have been given prayer. But what if we only prayed if we were in church, I mean sure that would be using and being content with the opportunity with prayer, but we miss out on that amazing opportunity to be able to talk with God whenever! In the same way, yes, I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit works through the bible, but could it be that we are boxing the God of impossibilities in?
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving miracles more value than they’re worth, but I don’t think they should be ‘miracles’ as such. By that I mean that miracles shouldn’t be the abnormal incident’s that leave us utterly speechless. Miracles should be normal if we truly live in Christ. Why? Because God is the God of impossibilities, and how is God currently present in our lives, through the Holy Spirit. Many of us know that God can do the impossible, but how many of us truly believe that, and show that we believe that through our actions, or even prayer life?
So I’m not saying that we should rejoice and be engrossed in our authority over evil, because instead we should focus and rejoice that our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20). But if we live by the Spirit shouldn’t living the life that Jesus had be the norm? (Aside from the salvation bit). Shouldn’t we be glorifying God through asserting His power over this world? In other words, shouldn’t it be normal for us to bring glory to God through manifestations of the Spirit, if in fact we are all filled with the Holy Spirit, who is the bringer of the impossible? Hrm, food for thought.
Anyway, that’s my thoughts for now. I haven’t finished the book, but so far it’s been quite an interesting read. Was wondering what your thoughts on the matter are. Would love to heard from you, just post a comment on Facebook. Or feel free to send me a personal message or email if you’re more comfortable with that.