Jesus does not wear a top hat, red coat, and black boots. He doesn’t carry a whip with which to snap over our heads, driving us to leap through fiery hoops for his amusement. He is not a ringmaster in some unpleasant cosmic circus.
Are you relieved?
Too many of us have this image of Jesus floating around in our hearts. It is a lie we would be quick to discount if we heard someone describing him in this way. Yet, many of us carry around this misconception, allowing it to hinder our faith and our relationship with God.
Recently, I had the opportunity to teach on Matthew 11:25-30. I read the passage a number of times and felt…frustrated. It is a famous piece of scripture. Often, those can be the most difficult because they are too familiar. Jesus praises the Father for hiding the things of the kingdom from wise and learned folks and revealing the kingdom to little children instead. Not only that, but it pleased God to do so. “Why?” I wondered. He goes on to say, the Father commits all things to him and that no one knows the Father except for him. Jesus then says that those to whom he reveals God also know the Father. After this comes a wonderful invitation, but let’s leave that for a moment.
I decided I would ask Jesus about the first part of the passage. At first, all was quiet in my spirit. I wondered if I were perhaps too wise and learned to hear him speak to me on this (haha). A few moments later such an arrogant thought proved unfounded. Let me share with you what I felt him saying to me:
“I have torn down the barriers of religion that kept people from the Kingdom. The Gospel is given. It is revealed. I didn’t want people to have to have scholarly degrees and learn several languages in order to receive my message. This is why I speak of revealing my Father. I came to show the world who God is, what He is truly like. I ended the need to adhere to a System of rules and protocols in order to feel there was a chance at knowing God and pleasing Him. There is no peace in that kind of uncertainty and certainly no rest. I hid the Kingdom from those who depend on unspiritual systems attempting to make the Kingdom a matter of the Mind instead of the Heart. The Kingdom is to be open to all, from the least to even the greatest, but it is given not achieved.”
I sat back and considered what he was saying to me. He hides the Kingdom from those who adhere to systems in order to connect to God. Throughout the Gospel story, we see Jesus at odds with such people.