Scary Jesus

star-wars-1231226_640Have you ever stood close to something very powerful?
A thundering waterfall?
The ocean before a storm?
An airplane engine?
A tornado?
A roaring fire?
A raging river?
When I was in college, I thought it would be fun to drive along the coast to see the waves just before a predicted hurricane. The surf was indeed amazing and I was exhilarated to be that near to something so powerful.
Until . . .
Suddenly, without warning, a wave rose out of the sea and covered my car – in fact, it broke on the other side of my Plymouth Valiant. I know now, I am most fortunate, that my car and I were not swept off the road and into the sea.
Nothing stimulates adrenaline like that.
Nothing.
Moments later, a policeman waved me over and yelled into my window, “What are you doing out here! You need to be off the road!” From the tears on my face and my shaking hands, he figured out that I was way ahead of him on that one. I couldn’t drive inland fast enough.
A close encounter with true power is sobering and inspires a person’s ego to recede to its proper place as quickly as a possum shrinks from a beam of light.
What I often miss about Jesus is how frightening it was for people to be around His power.
If you read the gospel of Luke, you’ll find this curious recurring phenomena whereby people ask Jesus to get away from them, to leave their town, to go away
always after a display of His incredible power.
In Luke 5: 8-10, Jesus directs Peter and others to a fishing trip that results in an unprecedented haul of fish.  Peter asks Jesus to get away from him. “ When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”
This episode with the fish wasn’t entertaining or exciting, it was downright frightening and humbling.
In Luke 8, Jesus rebukes a storm and it calms down causing the disciples to mutter among themselves in “fear and amazement.”
Then Jesus casts demons out of a man and when the townspeople see that he is sane and healed, they respond with fear and ask Jesus to leave their town.
We don’t talk about that very often. How many times an encounter with Jesus scared people, unsettled them, made them plead for Him to go away.
I always think that if people just meet the real Jesus, they’ll instantly want to be close to Him but that’s like thinking that everyone is going to want to stand on the shore at high tide when a storm is gathering just off the coast.
Jesus is love but Jesus is also all-powerful.
Power, true power, is awesome, frightening, and puts all others in their place. It can cause discomfort and amazing fear.
Jesus is love. He offers forgiveness, grace, light, and peace. But He’s not Mr. Rogers in a beard.
Jesus was fully man and fully God. He was, in fact, a perfect man, full of the power of the Holy Spirit. Encountering that power and perfection either drove people to their knees or inspired them to cry out for Jesus to leave them.
When the storm hits this week, meditate on Jesus’ power. It can move us to follow Him and remind us of the importance of obedience or it can make us see our smallness and want to banish Him from our presence so we can enjoy our own false sense of self-righteousness again.
How do you respond to Jesus?
If He doesn’t scare you just a little, then maybe you haven’t really encountered Him yet.
He’s powerful, baby. A force to be reckoned with. Like water, fire, flood, and storm all rolled into one.
You want to be in His boat – not the one rocking it.

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7 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. diane homm says:

    Wow…Thinking of your shoreline adventure, I can’t imagine witnessing water to that magnitude, nope not at all. You are in my prayers my friend. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I’ve often thought how curious people didn’t want Jesus around when he was doing mighty things. You’ve put it in perspective, as usual.

    And may you be in marvel at the storm coming your way and not terror.

  3. Deb says:

    I’ve read those stories…in my complacency I felt as though I’d respond differently, had I been there. But I don’t think that’s true. I believe each of us sees in a Jesus-moment what the Spirit needs us to see–if we need an attitude adjustment, we sense His awesome power; if we’re broken, we see His radical, healing love.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I love teaching the Old Testament because it is there that we meet God, the Creator, the all-powerful I AM. It always gives those in my bible study a new look at Jesus, the loving shepherd. We are better prepared to study the New Testament when we have seen how God deals with the disobedient, the haughty, the unkind. It makes us appreciate the grace Jesus gives and we better understand the sacrifice of Christ and why it was necessary. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The Three in One has a power we’ve yet to see unleashed on the world. Nothing can ever compare to His power. MOMMA