So what was Jesus’ plan? He came to save the world, right? How was this Jewish carpenter with no status, no money, no resources, and no influence going to pull this off? We can picture him like a college kid all excited about making an impact on the world. How was Jesus going to do it?
In his series, Who Is This Man, John Ortberg notes that Jesus had three options: Conquer, Assimilate, or Hide. He chose none of these.
Many of his followers hoped he would lead a revolt against the mighty Roman Empire that had been oppressing them for years. He didn’t. Others said, no, no, we need to work with the Romans. He didn’t. Still others wanted to cut and run and hide in a cave to live the pious life. He didn’t. Instead, Jesus stayed to the end. Even the end of his life.
What did he do? Ortberg expresses what Jesus would have said to folks this way (I’m paraphrasing Ortberg’s paraphrase), “Okay guys, I know you’re all wondering how we’re going to do this so here’s the plan. Listen up. When they disagree with us, when the spit at us, when they torture us, when they kill our family members, when the kill us, guess what we’re going to do? We’re going to love them! What do you think?”
What did folks do? Some left. Perhaps it was the feeding on his flesh parables that pushed them over the edge (e.g., From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him). Others, however, stayed. Despite their errors, stumbles, weaknesses, and lack of faith, they helped change the world through Jesus.
Did it work? Yes – Ortberg digs deep to show the influence and power of one Jewish carpenter turned Rabbi (think Hospitals, Harvard, Red Cross, Salvation Army, 12-Steps, our Calendar…etc). Michael Hyatt writes this on his blog: Jesus’ leadership strategy evidently worked well. Within a generation, His followers turned the world upside down (see Acts 17:6). Within seven generations (318 A.D.), the emperor Constantine accepted his message and made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. And here I am, almost two millennia later, writing about it.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson
Video from John Ortberg (Length 1:39)