Thursday, August 03, 2006

Jesus in the Margins: Part 5-- For Tim and Jay

Jesus said, "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." '

Jesus is here contrasting his kingdom of God method to his cousin's John the Baptist's way.

"The Son of Man came exegeting Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 and correcting the doctrinal errors of the Pharisees, and all the other factions in Israel."

Oops, that's the USAmerican evangelical approach to social change. "Preach the Word!" Too bad our Supreme Example didn't use that approach, eh?

Daily meals became Jesus' "dangerous" method. He welcomed marginalized people to eat with him. They gladly did so at the cafe table called The Kingdom of God. They laughed and swapped stories and had a rousing good time. Jesus' disciples had numerous side conversations with the cultural-culinary-religious police about "Why does your master welcome and eat with these kind of people?" Talk about emerging onversation!

Whoever thought that bread could be a weapon for change? Can't you just imagine Jesus with squinted eyes staring down an upstart Pharisee and in a Clint Eastwood raspy voice saying, "This here is a Zebulun 6" diameter loaf of fresh-baked, butter-topped, wheat grain bread...and I don't know how many bites are left. Feeling lucky, punkisee?"

Whoever thought an ordinary table of people could be the place where heaven and earth meet?

Whoever thought that eating together with the most unsavory of friends would reshape a nation's vision of holiness?

I marvel at the Jesus Way. Creating a national storm with bread, fish and wine, not with swords, F-16's and bunker-busters.

"As oft' as you quote this verse and preach this Bible text and argue stringently for justification by faith alone, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." How does that verse go again?

Oh, how we have changed from the Jesus Way.

People at the margins might not be able to follow our fine, finessed, exegetically precise, "inner logic" trails to getting right with God, but they sure do know how to eat. And they'll eat with Jesus when he invites them. It was the spiffy, religious know-it-alls who were "too good" to mix with the dusty riff-raff. "Why do you eat food with unclean hands? Why do you eat food with homosexuals, terrorists, racy women and social rejects? God just wouldn't eat with people like that."

Jesus of Nazareth, gritty as he was, was and is and will forever be God.

Here's the clincher. Some of you will have to bite your tongue. There's no record that they had "to repent" to eat at Jesus' table. The fact that they came--tax-collectors, prostitutes, lame, blind, diseased--and ate and enjoyed Jesus' welcome was repentance enough.

Now, I didn't say that they didn't ever change, did I? I said there's no evidence that they had to change before they came to the table. There's a word that is really loved and lived by those in the margins. It's the word grace. Grace. Embracing Grace.

I dedicate this series to Tim Jeffries and his wife Jay in Preston, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia who, with a new church plant, are living what I have merely written about.

Tim and Jay and your team of friends, may you know the deep joy of the Father's heart and experience the power of the Holy Spirit as you incarnate the living presence of Jesus the Messiah to those you love in your community. I truly admire and respect you.


At 8/03/2006 7:40 PM, Blogger Chris Monroe said...

"Now, I didn't say that they didn't ever change, did I? I said there's no evidence that they had to change before they came to the table."


You've pointed out something so simple, yet so transforming. We just can't look seriously at the gospels and miss the fact that Jesus lived out the principle of "belonging before believing" in his everyday dealings with all the ordinary people around him.

May this increasingly become a contagion among his followers wherever they may be.

Excellent series, John. THANK YOU.

- Chris Monroe

At 8/03/2006 9:03 PM, Blogger Jim Martin said...

I've been behind lately and have just now read all five posts in this series. This is outstanding, John.

I am learning from you as I read. You are also encouarging me.


At 8/04/2006 4:29 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

Jesus so obviously did live out grace---"belonging before believing" not to say he thought believing was a minor thing.

Thanks for the affirmation about the series. I fall deeper in love with Jesus the more I write about him.

At 8/04/2006 4:30 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

You, too, are an encouragement to me. It seems we have very similar pastoral hearts. Keep praying, preaching, thinking and writing, Jim!

At 8/05/2006 8:02 PM, Blogger sacred vapor said...

hi John,
This was a great series! excellent.

I was wondering if you see a connection via the Jesus meals and the Eucharist (remembrance).

Communion today, is practiced as needing to believe first, then invited to the table. I know Paul had specific instructions on this, but do you suppose there is more to this that we are missing?


At 8/06/2006 6:19 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

s. vapor,
I am convinced that Jesus' meal-time habits shaped the Agape Feasts of the early church.
I. Howard Marshall has a brief yet good book about the connection. I think his book is *Passover and the Lord's Table.* Also Robert Banks, *Going to Church in the First Century* touches on your question. I do not think the early church practiced a "closed table."

At 8/06/2006 4:24 PM, Blogger sacred vapor said...

Thanks for the info John

At 8/06/2006 5:14 PM, Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...


Excellent stuff. Particularly the emphasis of getting to know others over getting to know doctrines. And grace bringing change in the midst of all this. Amen.

At 8/06/2006 6:58 PM, Blogger John Frye said...

I appreciate your thoughts on the series. Thanks, brother.

At 8/07/2006 1:34 PM, Blogger julie said...

Thank you for this terrific series. Today, I visited for the first time. It will certainly not be the last.

At 8/07/2006 2:19 PM, Blogger John Frye said...

Thanks for visiting Jesus the Radical Pastor and for making some kind comments.

At 8/08/2006 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you'll find the I Howard Marshall book is 'Last Supper And Lord's Supper'. Hope that helps.

At 8/09/2006 6:06 AM, Blogger Tim Jeffries said...

Well this is an honour John, thankyou.

I think this post might be the best of the series, it really is wonderfully imaginative, prophetic and powerful. God bless ya!

At 8/09/2006 12:40 PM, Blogger John Frye said...

Thanks, my friend, for that correction.

At 8/09/2006 12:41 PM, Blogger John Frye said...

Tim and Jay,
You have the respect of many. Know that our hearts and prayers are with you.

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