Rev. Bill Mauldin shares why he loves exploring who Jesus was as a prophet:
I have always liked a little bit of danger; I think it adds a little spice to life. As a teen I really enjoyed the danger of contact sports. I always felt it wasn’t much fun unless you could get hurt. I had basketball goal in my back yard in high school that I painted the words “No Blood, No Foul." That was just a more fun way to play the game. I extended this “don’t play it safe” attitude to my personal life as well. Once for third date, I took a young lady skydiving. I enjoyed the idea of the danger, not just in the jump itself but in doing daring so early in a relationship. The skydiving thing worked out; that young lady and I were married about 9 months later and now have two kids and celebrated our 16th anniversary this year. If I am honest, as I have gotten older, I am not sure have quite the passion for danger as once had. As I look back over the years, I think there is one activity that I have engaged in from time to time that is by far the most dangerous, the riskiest, that leaves all the other in the dust and that is….telling church folks something they do not want to hear. There is nothing more terrifying, it is taking your life in your hands.Try telling someone that sincere Christians can vote differently than they do and see what happens or that other styles of worship can be incredibly meaningful for other people. It’s safer running with the bulls in Pamplona (which I would love to do).
It is important to hear hard truths, because while they are difficult for us to listen to they are generally the truth we are in the most desperate need of hearing. Telling someone a truth (even one they actually know deep down) that they don’t like is rarely ever appreciated. Most often the response is to simply “kill the messenger." It usually doesn’t pay to be the bearer of difficult truths.
What do we call people like this? These people that shine light in our dark places, point out that we may not be quite as heroic as we choose to believe and that those we disagree with/oppose might not be quite as villainous as we choose to believe. These people who face rejection, mockery, scorn, or even attacks to say what no one wants to hear but everyone needs to? Do we call them jerks? annoying? difficult? enemies? Maybe we need use a more Biblical term for some of these kinds of people. Maybe we should call some of them prophets.
A prophet is one who speaks on behalf of a God, often revealing revelatory information like future events. Biblical prophets were often sent by God to pronounce God’s judgment and warn of coming corrective punishment. Rarely were the prophet’s messages heeded and even less often were they appreciated in their times.
This is why Jesus as prophet is fascinating idea to consider. Jesus, the Son of God, comes to share God the Father’s judgment, warning of the coming suffering, but this time God will not be the source of our suffering, we are. Jesus came to a people that had (and still do) created of world of punishment for themselves. More punishment would not, could not be a corrective to such a people. In Jesus’s prophetic role He is warning them and us about the future we are creating, a future where the sins of the day will be magnified and metastasized. A world where relationship with the Divine will be traded for a legalistic religion filled with empty rituals. A world where the government will pervert justice and take from the poor to fill the storehouses of the rich. Two thousand years later, and we still refuse to hear these warnings.
Instead of delivering the punishment we had earned, in Jesus, God chose to bear that punishment instead. Punishment had never worked (at least not for long) so God went another way, the way of love.
Luke 4:16-19 CEB “ On the Sabbath He went to the synagogue as He normally did and stood up to read. The synagogue assistant gave Him the scroll from the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Maybe the hard truth that we reject and fight against is that God isn’t angry and going to punish us all. For many I think the idea of a punishing angry God would be a welcomed message because it would mean God is just like us and everyone will get what they deserve (what many might call “fair”).
The hard truth, the prophetic message of Jesus is that God is gracious and merciful, that we are beloved and of intrinsic and indelible sacred worth. It can be hard to hear that we are of such value, because then we must honesty face what we have chosen to do with our lives, a life of one that is fearfully and wonderfully made. Then comes the dreaded realization, that everyone we come across is also a creature of intrinsic and indelible sacred worth who is fearfully and wonderfully made. Being judged as lacking would be freeing in a way, because we would not have the responsibility that comes to do something with the wonderfulness that we are created to be. We would have no responsibility to preach, proclaim, aid in recovery, and to liberate the poor, the prisoner, the blind, the oppressed.
Here it comes, I am going to live dangerously, take my life in my hands and say something most of us know but none of us wants to hear….we are not living up to our nature, as individuals (I know for sure I am not) or as a community of disciples of Jesus. God’s prophets say hard things, their example inspires me, so I feel I must speak a hard truth as well, if I am to be faithful. Please don’t kill the messenger, especially since I think you know this to be true yourself. We have chosen not contemplate on, dwell in, rely on, and be renewed by God’ grace. We have chosen instead to try to prove our worth, building our egos, and not though relationship with our Creator.
Where in your life are you preaching, proclaiming, aiding in recovery, and liberating those who are in your sphere of influence? How much time do you spend with poor, the prisoner, the blind, the oppressed? I want to encourage you to do something risky, set aside all your attempts to earn and prove your worth and hear the prophetic message of Jesus “You are the beloved of God, fearfully and wonderfully made, of intrinsic and indelible sacred worth”, let that really sink in, then go love those your come across, following the example and teaching of Jesus, love them as God loves you. Are you willing to take that risk?
Watch a message from Rev. Daniel Humbert about Jesus as prophet to learn more: