Most people met Jesus on the road. When John the Baptizer introduced Jesus to the world, he quoted the prophet Isaiah, "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low … and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." In Jesus, God worked a highway construction project, making a road straight through the desert to enslaved humanity. Just as in the exodus, when God made a "way" out of Egyptian slavery to the Promised Land, so Jesus is the "way" to God. How ironic that while we clamored up to God through our intellect, our morality, our architecture, our art, and our institutions (both secular and religious), in Jesus Christ, God slipped in among us. The first name for the church was simply "The Way," not only our way to God but rather God's way to us.

All the Gospels present Jesus on a continual road trip—God in motion, urgently making a way to us in defeat of the desert in which we wander. Euthys, the Greek word for "immediately," occurs 42 times in Mark's Gospel. No sooner does Jesus do something than "immediately" he hits the road to elsewhere. Some of Jesus' best words were spoken on the run. Many have wanted to know more about the early childhood and adolescence of Jesus. Matthew and Luke tell us a little about the circumstances of Jesus' birth, and Luke has one story about his going to the Temple in Jerusalem when he was 12. In Mark, probably the earliest of the Gospels, Jesus just shows up out of nowhere, gets baptized by John, and then the Spirit shoos him out into the wilderness. It is as if the Gospels want to say that the action only really ...

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Why Jesus?
Why Jesus?
Abingdon Press
152 pp., 9.89
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