Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. Luke 24:25-27 (NRSV)
Who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces, he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:1-5 (NIV)
The disciples were disappointed – and perhaps kept themselves from seeing Jesus because the real Jesus was so much different than their expectations of Jesus. They were looking for a warrior king, but they got someone who submitted to a humiliating death on a cross.
We want a deus ex machina kind of God. We want God to show Himself to us as an example of that literary device that makes action movies so fun to watch. We want Him to come to life in the form of someone swooping in from above in a blaze of glory- wielding a machine gun, magically solving all of our problems, and making the world safe for democracy. The problem is that isn’t how Jesus works. The King of Glory is really the suffering servant who enters into the messy reality of human life that Isaiah portrays so eloquently.
It would be so much easier if Jesus were that blaze of glory kind of savior. But He is the kind of savior who gets dirty with us, who walks with us, who carries our pain and suffering, and who knows what it is to be rejected and unloved.
One of the things that may keep us from seeing Jesus is that we don’t want to think that He is stuck in the mundane like we are. We don’t want to think of Jesus as being awkward, or ill, or poorly clothed, but He entered into the entirety of the human experience including suffering, humiliation and even death.
On the surface we might want to think of Jesus as a cosmic Dirty Harry, or as the ultimate deus ex machina, but He is so much more than that. Rather than just being an external entity or a deliverer from afar, Jesus gets up close and personal. He enters into our experience. Including the parts that we would rather skip.
How can we have a more realistic view of Jesus and how He manifests His glory in the world?