The story is told of a drunk man that stumbled through the woods until he came upon a preacher baptizing people in the river. He tripped into the water and bumped into the preacher who asked the drunk, “Are you ready to find Jesus?” “Yes I am,” the drunk replied. The preacher dunked him into the water then pulled him up and asked him, “Brother have you found Jesus?” The drunk replied, “No!” Shocked at the answer, the preacher dunked him into the water again a bit longer. He pulled him out of the water and asked again, “Have you found Jesus, my brother?” The drunk again answered, “No, I have not found Jesus.” By this time the preacher was at his wits end so he dunked the drunk in the water again, but this time he held him down for about 30 seconds. The man started flailing his arms and legs so the preacher finally pulled him up and asked the drunk the last time, “For the love of God, have you found Jesus?” The drunk wiped his eyes and caught his breath only to say to the preacher, “No, but are you sure this is where he fell in?”
Aside from the obvious theological problems of this story, there is a bigger reminder to us about how Jesus can get lost by Preachers and Drunks alike.
Sometimes we lose him in the cultural stereotypes that we’ve been given. Other times we lose him in the trappings of the church, with all it’s traditions, rules, and hypocrisies. Oddly, we can sometimes lose him in the Word of God. We can become so caught up in the phrases and miss the person. This is verified in Jesus’ own words found in the Book of John “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you have life” (John 5:39,40).
Where did Jesus fall in? Where can he be found? How can we truly understand his love for us? I like how the French Philosopher Maurice Blondel puts it: “If you really want to understand a man, don’t just listen to what he says but watch what he does.”
We know that Jesus loves us because the Bible tells us so (you’re humming the children’s song right now, aren’t you?). But what I appreciate about Jesus is that he didn’t just TELL his disciples (us) about his love…he SHOWED them (us).
I believe he showed them (and still does to us today) with a towel, tears and a table. I want to unpack three familiar passages and look for where Jesus fell in…
Towel // John 13
Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. (John 13:1,4,5)
It was historically customary for a servant to wash the dust off of the feet of anyone who entered the home of the master. But in this particular case no one did that, so the guests feet remained dirty until Jesus humbled himself, took off his outer clothing, wrapped a towel around his waist and began to wash their feet.
Jesus was showing us what love looks like. He knew that before he could TEACH he had to TOUCH. The disciples didn’t need a lecture on dirty feet. Neither do many of our unsaved friends. They need someone to get down and simply wash off the crud!
I love how Philippians 2:7 drives this home. Note the connections I’ve made to John 13: “He made himself nothing (took outer clothing off), being made in human likeness (towel), and took the very nature of a servant (wash the disciples feet).”
This is how Jesus SHOWED us love. How else does he show us?
Tears // John 11
Jesus wasn’t there when his best friend Lazarus died. When he finally arrived everybody was a mess. Mary was crying. The Jews (perhaps paid mourners) gathered around the grave and joined in the grieving. This must have been like a room full of people watching Marley & Me or My Sisters Keeper (trust me: these are Weep-Fest films).
Vs. 34 – “Where have you laid him?” “Come and See Lord,” they replied.
Vs. 35 – “Jesus wept.”
Vs. 36 – “See how much he loved him!”
Jesus didn’t just say it, he showed it. You may wonder why (if he really loved him) he didn’t do more than just cry. Other wondered that too:
vs. 37 – “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
If Jesus really loved Lazarus, why didn’t he keep him from dying? The same logic can be applied to this question: Why doesn’t Jesus keep bad things from happening to us? If he’s really sovereign then wouldn’t it make sense for him to cut off death, pain and suffering at the pass?
Consider this scenario: Have you ever said to someone “I don’t want you to fix it. I just want you to listen?” Over the years, I have discovered that some of my greatest growth has come out of lots of pain and I honestly didn’t need someone to fix it, but instead I needed to know someone was walking with me, listening to me, and weeping with me.
Such was the case with Jesus. He wept before he ever raised Lazarus from the dead. You know, perhaps the greater miracle is that the God of the universe can cry. Through his tears he SHOWS us the full extent of his love.
Table // Luke 7
In Luke 7 we discover a pretty shady meal time. The table was set and around it we have a Pharisee, a Prostitute (called The Sinful Woman) and Jesus.
This all sounds like the makings of a good joke: A Pharisee, a Prostitute and Jesus walk into a house…
Both the Pharisee and prostitute were shunned by society, but Jesus sat at the table with them. That’s him showing LOVE. Thankfully he does the same with us. He invites us, with our shady backgrounds and sinful propensities, to eat with him. He welcomes us to the table.
Consider the Last Supper. At that particular table was one who would deny him (Peter), another who would betray him to be killed (Judas), and a bunch of folks that would abandon him (rest of the disciples).
Looks like Preachers and Drunks are in good company.
Towel, Tears, and a Table: It’s through examples such as these that we discover again how “God demonstrated his love for us in this: that while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us” (Romans 5:8).