Sunday, December 23, 2012

Jesus Is the Real Nowhere Man

Sidney Herald religion column published December 23, 2012

The Beatles sang:

He’s a real nowhere man
Sitting in his nowhere land
Making all his nowhere plans
For nobody

They weren’t singing about Jesus, but if we leave aside for a moment what we know about him because of faith, their words make a picture of his life. Jesus looked like the real nowhere man from a real nowhere land. He came to earth because of what looked like his nowhere plans. His plans were for nobodies, like us.

Jesus was born in a barn. Mary wrapped him in strips of cloth, not regular clothes. When Jesus' parents appeared for Mary's purification in the Temple, they offered a pair of turtledoves, the usual offering of the poor who could not afford a lamb.

King Herod knew Jesus was born in Bethlehem. That was walking distance from Herod’s palace. Herod had a chariot. He didn’t visit. Jesus was beneath him. The only ones who visited were poor shepherds and a handful of foreigners.

Jesus grew up in Nazareth, population no more than 480. Nazareth was mentioned nowhere in the Old Testament, the Apocrypha, by Josephus (the noted ancient Jewish historian), or in the Talmud (a central text of mainstream Judaism).

Nazareth had a no-account and evil reputation. When Philip told Nathanael that the disciples had found Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, Nathanael said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

The region around Nazareth was Galilee. The Jews wouldn’t even claim it as their own. They called it “Galilee of the Gentiles” or “Galilee of the Nations.”

Jesus warned a scribe who wanted to follow him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” When Jesus was challenged to pay the Temple tax, he did not have a shekel. When he died, he had no will, no burial plot, no tomb. He could not provide for his mother. From the cross he put her into the care of John.

This nowhere man came to earth because of his nowhere plan to save nobodies from their sin. He planned to go to the cross, the place of shame, guilt, weakness, foolishness, and condemnation, which is to say, into our place, into our nowhere land of sin.

When the Canaanite woman, who was not among the children of Israel, wanted Jesus to deliver her daughter from a demon, He said, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Kneeling, she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” She made herself a nobody, a dog. She called Jesus her master. She believed He would give her what she needed. Jesus called that faith and delivered her daughter immediately.

By faith, the Nowhere Man delivers nobodies from the nowhere land of sin into the Kingdom of Heaven, the forgiveness of sin, and righteousness before the Father. “Though He was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9)


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