Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Glimpses of a Different Jesus

Today's passage:  Isaiah 63
     Remember that episode of "I Love Lucy" when Lucy is traveling abroad and helps stomp the grapes?  She makes it look so fun, that I just want to hop in and join her.  It seems like fun work.  Yet, it is work all the same.   If I am not mistaken, many vineyards still stomp their grapes.  Is this the best way?  Is it passed down tradition?  I don't know, I've never been to a winery.  From movies I've seen, it makes for a time of celebration.  Plucking the grapes, placing them in the winevat, and harvesting the juice.  It is a time to reflect on the care given to the vines while the grapes grew.  They sing, they laugh, they work.
     In this passage, the mood does not seem to be the same.  Christ is the one who has been stomping the grapes, and it is not comical as it was in the "I Love Lucy" episode.  It is not a great party of people that has gathered to watch Him.  He says He has trodden them down alone.  His garments are drenched in the juice from the grapes.  There was no singing, there was no laughter.  This is a picture of an angry Christ.  It is righteous anger.  It is anger towards those who rejected Him, not only as individuals, but as nations.  It is the picture of a Father protecting his children, a big brother battling the bullies who tormented His younger brother.  This is not the Christ I usually picture.  He is stomping the grapes with fury. 
Grapes--Taken from The Children's Friend (Part 2)
By Adelaide Bee Evans
Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1911, 1928
     Thinking about my Savior, I usually picture the gentle Christ.  The Jesus who invited the children into His lap.  The Jesus who accepted the ointment poured out from an alabaster box.  The Jesus who wept at Lazarus' tomb.  I avoid thinking about the Christ who overturned the money changers in the Temple, who called the Pharisees vipers and whited sepulchers, who told Peter to "Get thee hence, Satan".  That was not a gentle Jesus.  That was a Christ of judgement.
     This image of a Christ covered in the juice from the grapes is a bit disconcerting for me, I'll admit.  I don't like to change the peaceful picture of Jesus I have in my mind.  I know that people will deserve the judgement to come.  Does it need to be so harsh?  That is what my heart says.  Then I think about someone who might harm my children.  I would show no mercy.  I would struggle to be forgiving. I would wish for the cruelest punishment to befall those people and would gladly take it upon myself to carry it out.  When I think of it this way, the picture is not as disturbing.  Jesus will tread on all those who persecuted His children, on all those who blatantly rejected the cross.  He made the greatest sacrifice, and people, nations even,  threw it back at Him and said, "I don't want that."  Wow!  What gall!  What utter ingratitude! Is it so hard to see why Jesus comes in judgement? If they were my children, just like in the Lucy episode, I would want to join right in.

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