Have you ever noticed how often Jesus is in combative mode throughout the Gospels? This has struck me as I’ve read through Matthew this week. He is often hotly defending his message, sprinting into conversations in swift idea attack (that usually ended in a checkmate in his favor, especially regarding the pharisees), pricked to fervent explanation or rebuke by the comments of the people around Him. This used to worry me. I felt a little insecure about loving such a riled-up God. It seemed pretty likely he’d be on my case before long, seeing as I am often in the ranks of those who struggle with their faith. The story of Jacob wrestling with God has always intrigued me, but I have always assumed God sort of held Jacob like a father might hold a furious toddler while he fought. The thought that God, in Jesus, might occasionally fight back is, well, a bit terrifying.
And yet, thrilling too. Because it just means he is in deadly earnest, he will provoke and stir and kindle searing questions to burn us until we finally, finally wake up to the reality of the Kingdom. I am ingesting the Kingdom into myself in a way I never have before- glimpsing the second by second possibility of what the Holy Spirit is willing to be and bring in my life as I follow Christ. There is a voice in my head of late that is this refrain of “look, see, remember, awake, and know, know, know the reality of God.” I have been a Christian most of my life, but this grace I have claimed is a flaming, life-altering redemption that is pushing me into a new place of response, recognition really, of what it really is I have believed. Throughout the Gospels, I begin to see Jesus as desperate, almost frantic, to get his wayward people to taste, to see, to respond to his salvation.
What is it in us all that is so resistant to him? I see more and more how lethargic, legalistic, lazy, staid, suspicious the world, and the human heart, are when it comes to the unfettered possibility inherent in Jesus’ Kingdom. Even in my own believing heart, even in many lovers of God, there is this sedative lethargy. It is so easy to live a life of measured goodness, to exist in the big, blank-walled box that is our expectation of a normal life bricked in by a reasonable love of God. I live in a mustard seed sized world of what is possible instead of letting a mustard seed sized faith move mountains. What would it be like to truly give all I had to the kingdom, hold nothing back, be the merchant in the parable who found that one perfect pearl and gave his whole life to own it.
I often struggle with God. To have him struggle back is shocking enough to startle me to life. Poor Jesus, grappling with such a sleepy, irate people, trying to get them to look up and see their redemption. I guess a good grapple, a sting of awakening is sometimes what I most need to rivet my sight on this Master of mine. I’m glad Jesus was a fighter. Savior, redeemer, champion wrestler. Just what I need.