The Surprise of Jesus and The Why of the Church!
If you were to meet a Christian in the ancient Roman world, perhaps something you would have sought clarity on would have been his or her reference to the church. You might have immediately asked, “What is the church?” and “Who is part of that?” It would have been an expected question because at that time, the church was very new on the world scene. In fact, one of the most unusual phenomenas of the ancient Roman world would have been the emergence of new assemblies called churches after Jesus died and rose again. Obviously, not everyone would have believed in the death and resurrection of Jesus and its implications for human beings and the world. Accordingly, not everyone would have gathered in churches! So, the question would have centered on the what and why of the church.
Jesus’s mysterious entry into the world left an indelible mark on the world not only when he was in it but also when he left it as well. One of the great surprises about Jesus is that he surrounded himself with relatively few people while he was alive and carried out his public ministry in this world. Yet, he wielded authority over the world and understood that he himself had authority like no other (Mark 2:1 - 12; 23 - 28; 6:45 -52). What is most surprising is the way Jesus used his authority. Jesus healed people, fed people miraculously and ultimately used his authority to lay down his life for others (Mark 6;15). The surprise of Jesus is that he did not use his authority to take life for his kingdom but that he gave his own life to savingly usher sinners into his kingdom....which brings us back to the church.
Mysteriously, after Jesus left this world, people who would believe and follow him began gathering in new assemblies called churches. What held these churches together was their common belief, acceptance, and understanding of the good news of the Lordship of Jesus over every sphere of the universe. The one rejected by this world had been enthroned in heaven. He was now at work through the Spirit sending the good news of his life, death, and resurrection to every corner of the globe. The proof of its power emerged as churches filled with new believers began manifesting themselves throughout the ancient world. The church not only provided the means for believers to persevere in this world but also testified to the power of Jesus as disciples from different backgrounds and nationalities joined together under their common bond of belief in Jesus. This is the surprise of Jesus and the why of the church, a rejected Messiah whose death and resurrection powerfully forged people together who would otherwise have no reason to be together. Such people band together in the church. In so doing, we testify to the resurrected Messiah whose authority still gives life to sinners in this fallen world.