“The life of Christ is just extra, it’s what He did on the cross that really matters.”
Is the life of Jesus really “just extra”? I am going to say a resounding NO! It is particularly fitting to talk about this during Lent. A season in which we consider our own mortality, in which we prepare for the passion season, where the long journey to the cross is the constant backdrop. It is however never the sole destination. Jesus does not remain on the cross. Which, by the way, does not diminish its significance.
In fact, it is in this season that we can read, talk about, have sermons on and focus on the life of Christ. Just what did Jesus do in the time between arriving to a very surprised teen mom and looking her in the eye from the cross? He cared for others, taught, went to parties, worked, spent time with family, left his family to spend time with others, reached out to those rejected by society, spoke harsh words to hypocrites and gentle words to sinners, fed the hungry, rested, healed the sick made friends, broke gender barriers, broke socioeconomic barriers, broke ethnic barriers, extended hospitality, advocated for those in need, was more concerned about doing good than what people thought of Him, sought economic justice, sought justice, included the poor and the rich. It is in His life that we find life. It is in the very ways in which he taught, both directly and indirectly that we could learn what it means to honor God, to live according to His word. God Himself came not that we should believe rightly but that we could LIVE rightly. I would argue this reveals our beliefs.
So what do I do with a student who thinks that the death of Jesus on the cross is the only thing that matters? I follow the model of Jesus as he addressed and walked alongside others who held tightly to a dominating belief. These are not bad people. They are not the enemy. We get to imitate Christ which means at times being misunderstood, ignored or worse. Sometimes it looks like inviting someone for dinner, other times it looks like pointing out that there is more than they see. We get to learn how to do so because we have His life as a model. His life was not, is not and never will be extra.
In this lenten season, don’t move so quickly from Jesus’ birth to His death and resurrection, take time to notice His life!