I don’t know about you, but I am pretty sure that Jesus would have been kicked out of my youth group. In this week’s readings alone, the Jesus of Mark 2 manages to infuriate religious leaders by his claim to forgive sins, his having dinner with and befriending the lowest of society’s low, his choosing to party instead of fasting like the devout, and his daring act of breaking the Sabbath laws. Jesus is not exactly a rule follower and this makes the church leaders hard to live with.
At times it seems the radical Jesus of Scripture has little to do with the Jesus we try to contain in the box of contemporary American Christianity. We like to decide who is worthy of God’s love and who is not, who is in and who is out, which sins are unforgivable and which sins we will overlook. We dare not make our religious or political leaders uncomfortable by reaching too far into the margins to extend Christ’s love to all people. Today, the psalmist makes it clear that God’s vision for the world always stretches beyond the view of the political leaders, church leaders, or even the law. It moves beyond what we American Christians determine is right or fair. No, proclaims the psalmist, God’s vision was and is about justice for the oppressed and love and forgiveness for all.
The psalmist wants us to know that God’s heart and arms are open wider than we can possibly imagine. Through the life of Jesus, we catch a glimpse of God’s justice, forgiveness, and steadfast love. Given the choice, I prefer Mark 2’s Jesus to the one we have constructed. If that makes me a troublemaker too, so be it!
When have I experienced the radical love of God through Jesus? When have I extended it?
God of unending love, forgive us when we try to contain you. Forgive us when we place limits on your work in the world. Teach us what it means to offer the love and justice you so desire. Amen.