Contemplating Jesus


Posted on by Lucinda M. Vardey

During the years of his public ministry, Jesus chose to have no home.  Obviously this was a purposeful decision.  To have set up permanent residence in a synagogue, Jesus’  life would not have had such a dramatic or widespread effect. His was not to be a shepherd who cared for a stationary flock, who was familiar with resident families, who would preach and marry offspring and bury their dead.  He carefully avoided possessions, knew the wisdom of shunning desire for material comfort, built his dwelling on the firm foundation of faith and made clear he had  “nowhere to lay his head”  (Luke 9:58).  Instead he made himself free to follow the urging of God, “the wind blows where it chooses” (John 3:8).  It was, in hindsight, a wise decision because Jesus was always having to make an escape of some sort or other.  His life was threatened at every turn – people tried to throw him over a cliff, or stone him, or simply request he not hang around..  He was not particularly welcome in any one place.  Even returning to his native Nazareth was an impossibility.  And Capernaum, where he stayed for certain periods, he also judged unworthy to be exalted (Matthew 11:23).  Friends provided accommodation, but Jesus mostly slept in homes of strangers, or alone on mountain tops, or wherever was hospitable on the road.  The alarming lack of privacy deterred him not.  He walked with crowds hounding him, imparting his teaching to his disciples on the way. Even with all that activity, he was able to determine where he was to go and when and for how long.  With perfect precision, he brought his roaming to a conclusion with his grand entrance into Jerusalem on a colt, followed by his public trial and violent death.  And the three days he was to spend in the tomb he had forecast with authority (Matthew 12:40).

A king with no earthly kingdom, a messiah with no army, a rabbi with no synagogue, a homeless man, Jesus chose a life of a mendicant, who just happened to belong wherever he was.   As a master of impermanence, he was free to dwell in God alone and God was everywhere.  As a man with no earthly possessions but the garment he wore, which was stripped from his body, Jesus died naked and vulnerable, for all to see, in a poverty so severe, that his kingship could only be perceived as the greatest of hoaxes.   No one, not even his followers, expected to be surprised.

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