If one makes a statement by the type of entrance one makes, then God made quite a statement with Jesus.

Jesus was born, says the Bible, with a virginal conception—decidedly not in accord with the normal order of things. Then there was a host of angels who announced the birth to some startled shepherds with what will turn out to be ironic words: "Peace on earth!" For the first memorable political act after the birth of Immanuel—"God with us"—is the mass murder of infants preceded by the exile of the holy family. The first sign of God's coming leads to disruption and confusion.

Even in his childhood, Jesus signaled that he was about something startling. He was only 12 when he disobeyed his parents, staying behind in Jerusalem to teach in the temple after they had started home. He flouted one of the Ten Commandments—"Honor your father and your mother"—apparently believing that the fifth commandment was not made for man, but man for the fifth commandment. His parents are naturally hurt at his disrespect: "Son, why have you treated us so?" But Jesus just rebukes them for not recognizing his mission (Luke 2:41–49). Jesus was not a good, well-behaved little boy.

Things get really interesting when Jesus begins his ministry some 18 years later. His opening sermon—the one in which he announces his mission of liberation—sets the tone. He's in Nazareth, his home town. He has an opportunity to win the favor of family and friends, so they can send him off on his ministry with good will. Instead, he picks the occasion to shame them for their parochialism. He notes that God is just as interested in freely sharing his mercy with Gentiles as he is with his chosen people. You know Jesus has touched ...

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SoulWork
In "SoulWork," Mark Galli brings news, Christian theology, and spiritual direction together to explore what it means to be formed spiritually in the image of Jesus Christ.
Mark Galli
Mark Galli is Editor of Christianity Today in Carol Stream, Illinois.
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