So what have we got this weekend?
Basically we’ve got two sides – on one side there was the religious people (the Jews) and on the other, atheists, agnostics and sinners all thrown in together. Broad strokes, of course.
Into that dualism arrived Jesus Christ – no less than God Himself!
He spends his short earthly life calling both sides (not just one side) to repentance. Very interesting.
We’d expect that he’d call sinners to repentance, to change. Or would we? Is there sin anymore?
On this point – the reality of sin – Jesus never waivers. He never denies the reality of sin. On the contrary His life is an argument for the reality of sin and for ultimate justice.
Jesus wasn’t so much tolerant as merciful. Tolerance suggests almost anything is acceptable, there are few laws, almost everything can be collapsed into tolerance, almost everything is grey, there’s no black and white, nothing is definite. In broad strokes it’s the world we live in.
But Jesus didn’t bring tolerance. He brought Mercy. He was tolerant only in so far as tolerance served Mercy. That’s a totally different reality. Mercy implies that there are definite laws, an objective order. Besides, mercy is painful. Think of a husband’s, wife’s, partner’s unfaithfulness. Now think (feel) forgiving that unfaithfulness. What do you get? A kind of crucifixion for God’s sake!
But tolerance is not so painful because it doesn’t matter, nothing matters, there are no absolute laws, there is no ultimate justice, whereas Jesus says it does matter, there is ultimate justice. There’s always a price to be paid. It matters that you are saved. Me too!
Now, as Jesus calls sinners to repentance (unbelievers to belief) the religious people start to object – they start to fight with Him, they actually start to resent God – thus the first move to be last, and the last move to be first.
How dare you they say, this is not fair!
A kind of religious / spiritual pride!
Can you see where the religious people are wrong?
They are religious but their religion is about them rather than God! It’s religion without the heart of God. It’s a religion that really doesn’t understand what’s at stake. A man (or woman) can be lost! That’s what gave rise to parables like the lost sheep, the prodigal son.