In this post, we’ll take a little side-trip from our study in Revelation. It’s just something that’s been on my mind the last few days.
My wife is an excellent cook and enjoys watching TV shows about cooking. I watch with her sometimes. There are several shows where different professional chefs are challenged to take unusual ingredients and make them into something tasty, with other chefs who judge their efforts. One of these judges in particular I don’t especially like because he’s always concerned about “presentation” and “texture”. I’ve remarked to Sharon that perhaps he should go to a food bank and learn about folks who are happy just to have food on the plate and don’t worry about how it’s arranged or how it looks.
I’ve never understood the fascination with “gourmet” plates of food with a dab of this and a dollop of that arranged artistically on a plate. That little mound of edibles in the middle of the plate always looks lonely.
Maybe it’s just me, and my palate has never been properly educated. I spent a lot of my formative years with my grandmother. She took in roomers and boarders to help make ends meet. When I was there, there would be six of us around the dinner table. And there was plenty of food!
Stuff that a lot of people today raise their hands in horror at the idea of eating, except maybe the vegetables.
I got to thinking about this idea of “presentation” the other day after one of my rants to my wife about this judge and it occurred to me that a great deal of what this world does and is concerned about is nothing more than “presentation.”
Advertising types call it “marketing.”
Manufacturers are concerned about “packaging.”
We used to call it “putting our best foot forward.”
I am not advocating a haphazard life style of slovenliness. There’s nothing wrong with being neat and orderly. It’s just that there’s more to us than what people see on the outside. Life isn’t about how the food is arranged on the plate.
When our Lord came into this world – and I’ve already seen a TV commercial for “Christmas stuff” this year – He didn’t come to fanfare and big crowds. He didn’t come to live in a palace or to hobnob with the rich and powerful.
He was born to a young woman in the midst of scandal and, no doubt, gossip. I wonder sometimes what happened when it became obvious that she was with child, in a society where that wasn’t common or accepted as it is in our society. After all, she wasn’t yet married. Scripture tells us how she became pregnant, but the world doesn’t accept the testimony of Scripture. Even when Jesus was an adult, though there is some discussion about what the verse means, references to His birth were thrown in His face, John 8:41.
And Joseph, His earthly father, wasn’t rich. Some versions call him a carpenter, but the Greek word simply means a craftsman. He worked with his hands to provide for his family. He didn’t have a life of ease and luxury. Neither did our Lord.
Jesus’ life was spent in relative obscurity. Even though He had large crowds around Him for a while, when He began to talk about things more important than how the food is arranged on the plate, so to speak, people left Him, John 6:66, and He wound up with just a handful of followers at the time of His death.
And what a death!
Executed like a common criminal, naked and alone, in one of the worst ways to die ever conceived by the twisted mind of mankind. Granted, He rose from the dead three days later, but as far as the world is concerned, He’s still dead.
And the message He left behind for His disciples to preach!
It wasn’t about building us up.
Making us feel good about ourselves.
Being all we can be.
The message was about how messed up we are.
It was about the fact that we’re all sinners, falling short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23. It was about the fact that we’re not going to be judged by the fickle, changing standards of this world, but by the inflexible and eternal Word of God.
It was about the fact that the best we can do by ourselves, the things we might think of as being “righteous,” even our “religion,” is still vile and filthy in the sight of God, Isaiah 64:6. It’s about the fact that even the most backward and primitive societies and cultures have a definition of “right” and “wrong,” as varied and different as those might be, but have failed even to live up to their own standards, let alone the righteous and holy standards of God. It’s about the fact that, apart from Divine intervention, we’re all doomed to spend an eternity in hell.
It’s about the fact that God did intervene and sent His Son to do what we cannot do – be righteous and perfect in the sight of God.
And to suffer on the Cross that penalty due to our disobedience and sinfulness, that penalty that not all the “goodness” we could perform in a thousand lifetimes could even begin to pay. In fact, it would add to the penalty because it would say that we know better than God and that we are able to please Him in and of ourselves.
The message is about the fact that those who turn from themselves, their sin and their “goodness,” and turn to the Lord Jesus, trusting who He is and what He did on the Cross for sinners, they, and they alone, are saved, that is, made righteous in God’s sight and the penalty due to their sins is paid and erased.
There’s more to it than meets the eye.