Tuesday, June 07, 2011


I have to believe that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day (the Pharisees and the Sadducees) were both looking for a Messiah to come. Even if some of them were corrupt, selfish and prideful, most of them, I’m convinced, were honestly hoping that the Messiah would come as the Scriptures promised. But when he did come they totally missed him. Why? Here’s what I believe happened.

The religious leaders were expecting that the Messiah, when he came, would be their star player. He would be the All-Star Quarterback who would join their team, wear their team colors and take their team to the end zone for a glorious game-winning touchdown. That was the kind of Messiah they were expecting.

Instead, the Messiah that they got was one who said, “I’m starting my own team. Why don’t you guys join mine? I’ve got my own team colors and I’m happy to let you guys play as many minutes as you like. I’ve even got a wonderful plan to tear down this old stadium of yours and rebuild one more glorious than you can imagine.”

But the Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t want to play on Jesus’ team. They wanted him to be their star quarterback, not their team owner, manager and coach. It wasn’t so much that they “missed” the Messiah, it’s that what he was asking of them was more than what they were expecting to give.

Recently our family watched the film, “The Gospel of John”. One thing that struck me as I watched this Gospel being acted out was how often Jesus’ teaching was directed straight at the Pharisees and Sadducees. Time and again he pointed out their hypocrisy, he appealed to them to believe in him, he pleaded with them to join his team. They just couldn’t let go of their agenda, their vision, in order to embrace his. Because to join his team would be to humble themselves and submit to him, publicly. They just couldn't do it.

My good friend Greg Russinger recently said, “The Gospel is that Jesus invites you and I into His life, not that we invite Him into our lives”. This is so scandalous, and yet so very true. We’ve told ourselves that we have to ask Jesus to come and live in our life, but the Gospels never teach this. Jesus never suggested anything of the sort. He doesn’t want to be our Co-Pilot. He wants to be the Pilot. He wants us to enter into His life and we can only do that if we lay down our lives completely.

Life is only found in Christ. He is the vine. We are branches. Without Him we can do nothing. So, of course, if we want life we have to come to Him and receive it. If we won't come to Him, we can't receive life.

Jesus says, "You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life." (John 5:39-40)

Before we write off the Pharisees completely, the truth is that many of them actually did get it eventually, including Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and Paul the Apostle himself.

The lesson for us is to realize that Jesus doesn’t want us to bring him into our life. Instead, He wants us to give up on our life, to lay it aside forever, and to enter into the life that He wants to give us – His life!

“Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” – Jesus, Team Captain, Matthew 10:39

“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” – Paul, former Pharisee, Colossians 3:2-4

I hear that Jesus is starting a new team. Want to join?



Alan said...

Where do I buy a shirt?
Thanks, Keith!

duchessdad said...

Excellent analogy. "Put me in coach, can't you see that I'm ready to play".

Judith Lee said...

Excellent comments. The difficulty for me is recognizing the mindsets, paradigms, etc. that work against Christ truly being Lord and not just Savior. Shedding the outer baggage of institutional religion is so much easier than uncovering the hidden religion within. Thank God for placing us in community, to help us see His light.