I’m captivated, most of all, with the actions of Jesus as we see him walk through the pages of the gospels. His engagement with all sorts of people is so powerful. We should never underestimate the problems Jesus had with the establishment as he mixed with, ate with, had compassion on, and made friends with the ‘wrong kind of people.’
This is for certain: Jesus must have been great in his relationships with these folks. Why? Because if he was a condemnatory, judgmental religious misery, I don’t imagine that they’d have flocked to him, ate with him or spent any time with him at all. Holding in full tension in his human experience was both the extremity of holiness and purity in close juxtaposition with so much of what is contrary to that: usury, adultery, prostitution, infectious diseases etc etc. Yet, he responds with transformative grace. He was a generative man, he spoke life and gave life to the extent that even the call to ‘repent’ was an offer you couldn’t refuse.
The gospel in the Gospels is that ‘the Kingdom of God is near, turn around and walk into it.’ Every one of his disciples was an ‘unlikely lad or lass.’ This encourages me no end! We’re all invited by the same Jesus to shake off the ‘yeast of the pharisees’ and live courageously loving lives, trusting that God is in the restoration and redemption business in the lives and hearts of all.