The roller coaster of the Christian calendar is over. It’s a lot of work, especially if you are in church leadership. You get prepped for Advent, work hard through Christmas, get a month or so of planning for the next season and then it’s Lent and Holy Week and the big event, Easter. It’s pretty exhausting.
If you are exhausted, please take a deep breath. You deserve it.
All the church work for a few events in Jesus’ life. Important ones, though.
- Jesus; birth and the incarnation.
- Jesus’ forty day temptation in the wilderness.
- Jesus’ victory parade into Jerusalem.
- The last supper.
- Jesus’ crucifixion.
- Jesus’ resurrection.
These are certainly times to remember and celebrate. But I wonder about the things we are missing.
- The baptism of Jesus
- Three years of ministry, healing and comforting the poor.
- The transfiguration.
- The bulk of Jesus’ teaching.
- The cleansing of the temple.
I’m sure that pastors teach on these subjects occasionally. But they are outside the “main events” of church life. Jesus’ healing and teaching is brought out most Sundays in the gospel readings of the annual liturgy, for churches that use that tool. But still, it seems that we can focus on the “big three” of events– birth, death and resurrection– to such a degree that we can forget about the other, equally important events.
Certainly Timothy Keller thinks that we can easily forget:
“Jesus’ teaching was not the main point of his mission. He came to save people through his death for sin and his resurrection.”
I don’t think Rev. Keller is saying that we should just forget about Jesus’ teachings. Only that, if you were going to forget something, forget about the teachings and keep the death and resurrection.
This makes sense if you think that Jesus’ death magically eradicated sin. But that isn’t why Jesus died. Jesus died and was brought back from the dead to establish the kingdom of God. Entrance into the kingdom eradicates sin and puts us all under a different system of justice, one based on repentance and mercy.
When we see the death and resurrection of Jesus as the establishing of Jesus’ kingdom, then we can see their proper place in the whole of what Jesus was accomplishing.
- Jesus’ incarnation showed the kind of person who could do the work.
- Jesus’ ministry showed the heart and power of the kingdom, or, as Jesus says, “The kingdom of God is upon you.”
- The teaching of Jesus is the constitution of the kingdom, the principles and laws which provide the building blocks of the kingdom.
- Jesus’ death is what was necessary to set aside the old kingdom and to establish the new.
- Jesus’ baptism, transfiguration and resurrection shows that God is displaying the choosing the right man for the job, certifying Jesus’ kingdom.
It seems to me, if we put Jesus’ ministry and teaching on a second or third rung on the Christian ladder, we are left with an outline without a heart. If we celebrate Jesus, and declare him to be Lord, but we do not live out Jesus lifestyle of supporting the poor or celebrate the poor and outcast in our teaching, then we have the semblance of a people of Jesus, but not the reality of it.