By George Elerick
When I go to the store and I’m perusing the candy aisle, I purposefully walk away with a package of one of my favorite candy bars — Almond Joy! I don’t come away with Snickers or any other B-rate sweet, because there might be a chance that my wife might like it and then I would have to share. Luckily, she doesn’t like Almond Joy. So, I have it all to myself. There is something empowering in knowing we can have what we want to ourselves. That we can choose to share or not to share. What if we have somehow taken our experience of candy bars into our theology?
What if the message of Jesus was actually meant for a wider audience. What if his message about a kingdom and a way life was also meant for the world? Sure, we can agree it was meant to go to the world. But, what if He was already speaking to the world when he shared his message? You see, his audience wouldn’t have just been made up of his inner twelve ragamuffins. His messages would have been heard by what most would have known as the “unacceptables”. People who were on the fringe of society, lepers, the unclean, the demonized, the bleeding woman and others who you wouldn’t want to be seen in public with.
When Jesus is sitting on a rock (the posture of a rabbi) teaching about organic substances like salt and light and then brings in a city to cap it all off, (he would have said this quite a few times; part of his nomadic sermon collection), He would have been empowering all the people eavesdropping. He would have been saying, you are like this salt that is influential and permeates every aspect of your culture.
You see Christ was in the business of building a global kingdom. He was pioneering a cosmological kind of ethos and believed everyone could be a part. If they wanted to.
Let’s take a look at who his inner twelve were. Luke was this Gentile doctor. A practical healer. People would have visited him for medical help. It would be too easy to overlook what a Gentile was and simply label him an outsider. A Gentile was also outside the religious faith, not just a denominational difference… he would have been more like a modern-day Buddhist or maybe what we might more closely consider as a Native American healer. He was outside the fold according to the Pharisees. And Jesus entrusted the Kingdom to this guy?
Also, Mary Magdelene who also might of been one of the financiers of Jesus ministry was an ex-prostitute who might have actually quite easily slipped back into the practice. So Jesus’ ministry was sustained by a prostitute. She held up the ministry of Jesus. And Jesus supported her by believing she had what it took to build the Kingdom of God on earth.
Then we meet up with a guy named Matthew. A tax-collector. Now, try to imagine a tax-collector who randomly shows up on your doorstep for a routine surprise audit. All those feelings your feeling now would have been what most of the Jewish people would have felt plus a side-order of betrayal. Jewish tax-collectors were known as double-crossers. It would be like your best friend turning you in for something you didn’t do. The ultimate of all betrayers. They worked for enemy Rome. They not only collected taxes from their own people, but they would also overcharge each person and whatever the difference was they would pocket it. And for the most part, the price was ludicrously outrageous. It actually helped in creating the homeless population. This was Matthew. A betrayer.
Judas was most likely part of a band of people called the Sicarii. The Sicarii were a bunch of extreme nationalists who believed that the only good Roman, was a dead Roman. Not to mention that Judas was also the one in line to betray his friend Jesus for some money. So, Judas would have been a terrorist, a mercenary of sorts who according to our story would have only been looking out for number one. And yep, you guessed it, Jesus chose him too.
A mystic healer. A prostitute. A political thief. A terrorist. And this is just getting started. This is who Jesus chose to build His Kingdom with.
Hmmm… I wonder if we are only aware of half the message of the gospel. Who are we choosing?
George loves the outdoors, singing in the shower and doing underwater, synchronized Pilates. He is currently working on a book entitled “Jesus Bootlegged: Recapturing the Stolen Message of Jesus for The World”. You can read more about him at his blog.