Missionary Marty Frisk raised a challenging question in a recent prayer letter: “It is amazing that the loving Jesus who gave his very life for others inspires the hatred of peoples in this world! How can this man who walked on water, fed 5,000, raised Lazarus from death, healed multitudes of disease and preached ‘turn the other cheek’ be hated?”
Marty went on to give a good explanation of the natural rebellious nature with which we are born based on Jesus own words in John 15. As I’ve thought about this and as I have prayed for Marty and the great and effective ministry our Lord has given him, another possible reason came to mind. You remember the story of Jesus passing thru the town of Jericho en route to Jerusalem to be crucified for my sins. The story in Luke 19 tells us that Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus.
Tradition tells us that Zacchaeus was a short man (though I find that it is difficult to determine strictly by the text which of them was taller.) And regardless which of them lacked height to be seen by the other, the real problem was not physical stature. The real reason Zacchaeus could not see Jesus is that the people closest to Jesus blocked his view of the Master.
The problem that Marty and his associates face in bringing Jesus to a people who do not want Him is the same one that kept the rich publican of Jericho from seeing the Jesus we love. Could it be that the world of Islam has never seen the real Jesus for Whom He is and what He is? The Muslim world, like Zacchaeus has heard something about Jesus. What Zacchaeus had heard was obviously enough to cause him to want to see Jesus for himself.
It appears that what the Muslim world has heard of our loving Lord provokes the exact opposite response. I suppose that you and I can do nothing to change the traditions they have heard from their ancestors.
But another large part of their world and ours can only judge Jesus by what they see in the lives, attitudes and actions of those who claim to be closest to Him. And I CAN do something about that in my life and my relationship with the Muslim, and other unbelievers with whom I come in contact. As my friend Lee keeps reminding those of us under his leadership at the Chapel, we can and must BE JESUS to others.
I sure do not want to obscure the view of perfect Son of God by anything I say or do. Nor do I want them to go away in ignorance because I failed to be Jesus to them!
Zacchaeus may or may not have been a short fellow. But he didn’t prevent anyone from seeing the real Jesus for Who He really is!