We noted that forgiveness is one of the least understood components of Christian doctrine. Sadly, it is misunderstood by Christians and non-Christians alike.
It is fearfully easy to read the Do Not Commands and assume, "Oh, I would never do that." Because the context of examples used by Jesus sometimes seems so ludicrously absurd, we too easily overlook our own glaring presence in the midst of the Gospel pages.
Created by his hand and in his image, all humanity are God's children. Yet we are put upon this earth to become something more, to become true sons and daughters of chosen obedience. Given life and, in time, independence, our destiny is gained by yielding back that independence into the hand of our Creator, and thus, by that relinquishment, discovering eternal childship.
Countless sermons and devotions have been based on Jesus' exchange with the man we know as the "rich young ruler." The first three gospels recount the story using largely identical words and phrases. Indeed, this passage is one of those upon which scholars base their conviction that Matthew and Luke founded their writings upon Mark's gospel.
From the elusive Command, Lose your life, we now encounter one of the most down to earth of all the Commands: Be a servant. No mystery exists here. We all know what it means to serve, to put someone else's need ahead of our own...the good deed, the kindness shown, the helping hand, the burden shared, the load lifted, the feet washed, the cup for the thirsty wayfarer. Opportunities for service are presented us every moment of every day.
Most of Jesus' Commands are reasonably straightforward, easy enough to understand, uncomplicated, unambiguous. Easy to obey--no. Easy to understand--yes. It is not usually a question of being confused about what is required. Rather it is a question of how serious we are about wanting to obey.
Why is Jesus an obedient Son? Because He did the will of the Father.
The great moral teacher interpretation of the life and impact of Jesus Christ is surely one of the most naive perspectives ever proposed for such an important historical figure. C.S. Lewis has memorably argued that anyone making the claims Jesus did must either be a lunatic, a madman, or what he claimed to be. It is not merely Jesus' claim to be one with God that is astonishing and revolutionary, however, so too is much of the rest of his teaching. Far from being a traditional "moralist," a great deal of what Jesus said turned conventional wisdom upside-down.
In recognizing the reality of our Lord's humanity, I would not be misunderstood as saying that we are more like Him, or He more like us, than I intend.