Jesus, who unties such apparent extremes of character into such an integrated and balanced whole, demands an extreme response from every one of us. He forces our hand at every turn in the story. This man who throws open the gates of his kingdom to everyone, then warns the most devout insiders that their standing in the kingdom is in jeopardy without fruitfulness, is forever closing down our options. This man who can be weakened by a touch in a crowd on his way to bring a little girl back from the dead is a man you dare not tear your eyes from. (And we haven’t even yet witnessed the true depths of his restraint or the heights of his power.)
He is both the rest and the storm, both the victim and the wielder of the flaming sword, and you must accept him or reject him on the basis of both. Either you’ll have to kill him, or you’ll have to crown him. The one thing you can’t do is just say, ‘What an interesting guy.’ Those teachers of the law who began plotting to kill Jesus at the end of this episode in the temple – they may have been dead wrong about him, but their reaction makes perfect sense.
Please don’t try to keep Jesus on the periphery of your life. He cannot remain there. Give yourself to him – center your entire life on him – and let his power reproduce his character in you.
- Tim Keller