A Whimsical Dictionary: J is for Jesus

A Whimsical Dictionary: J is for Jesus

A Whimsical Dictionary of Surprising Influences.

J is for Jesus –

The One and Only, though many thought Him an unlikely Messiah in many ways. Dozens of descriptive names have been offered in vain hopes of discovering a singular identity. Some of these descriptions were Rose of Sharon, Lion of Judah, Lamb of God, Morning Star, Stone of Stumbling, Root of David, Lilly of the Valley, Great Shepherd, Suffering Servant, Cornerstone, Man of Sorrows, Alpha and Omega, Bread of Life, the Gate, the Light of the World, Bridegroom, Captain, Savior, Lord, Redeemer, Messiah Christ. Jesus seemed to prefer Son of Man, a sort of Mr. Everyman, a Mr. One of Ya’all. As apt as all those attempts are, they just don’t quite get it. Maybe that’s because He Himself is the Word we are looking for.

He was an inconsistent,  unpredictable bundle of extreme qualities. He would berate the religious, forgive the adulterous, befriend the rip-off artist, kiss His betrayer, call His most faithful student Satan, weep at a death, tend bar at a wedding reception, hug children, and welcome all the lepers and lunatics. In fact, many thought Him to be touched in the head. When He was tender, He seemed to almost wilt. When He was angry, there was a scary flash of fire in His eyes.

And He often aroused those same extremes in others. He started His vocation by igniting His home town with flammable speech. He continued His ministry by answering somber questions with puzzling stories that often bordered on the comic. And close to the end, He irked His accusers with unflappable silence.

In the earliest days of His earthly life, He was a Savior fetus in a teenager’s womb, and then He was a God who wet diapers, a Co-Creator needing to be burped, the Lord of the universe sucking at His mother’s breast. Later on, He was the heavenly King with a ripped-open side, a bleeding scalp, grimly and helplessly facing mockery, torture, and a slow death. It’s a toss-up as to which of those two mysteries, the Manger Messiah or the Dead God, is the most incomprehensible and profound. Somehow, Jesus was both and more.

Here on earth, Jesus was glory in a minor key. Here was the eternal Son of God, who emptied Himself of His glory in heaven to become a man, identifying with unglory, a tarnished image of Himself. We see little snapshots of His undisguised glory, such as the Transfiguration, but for the most part, He put His weighty splendor aside for a season.

From most appearances, Jesus was a man. True, a unique spiritual genius, a miracle worker, but still a man. But we all know that appearances can be deceiving. Sure, He was born in an animal’s cave, raised in the Jewish Law, was hungry and thirsty like you and me, and hung out with those common types not given to glory or associated with glory in any way. Yes, He was “humble, riding on a donkey,” an excellent metaphor for Jesus’ life. He was not sanctimonious, He did not have a halo, he felt pain, and He had both feet on the ground.

And yet, despite appearances, Jesus somehow contained God’s glory. So maybe that is what it looks like to glorify God, to be filled with God’s veiled and muted glory as we follow Jesus, “the radiance of God’s glory.” (Hebrews 1:3).”Who is this King of Glory?” (Psalm 24). It is Jesus, Christ the Lord. “We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).