Jesus really messed things up!
God becoming a baby, being born to an unmarried teenager, loving all of the wrong people…prostitutes, greedy cheaters, traitors, rough, angry blue collar types, beggars, deformed people, individuals with disgusting diseases, terrorists, and soldiers of the occupying super power. He deliberately reached out to people that his society had completely written off. They were the outcasts, the untouchables. He touched them, healed them, engaged them with his stories, and went to their parties.
He made enemies with all the wrong people…people of authority who could have him killed, religious and political aristocrats, the legalists, the powerful.
Jesus exuded grace when he welcomed the children, afforded new status to women, and told intriguing stories to large groups of fascinated followers. The way he engaged the outcasts and common people was a very new thing. He not only accepted them as they were, but he made it point to connect with them.
Most Christians would be quick to point to his death on the cross as evidence of his grace. Just don’t leapfrog over his life to get there.
Several biblical passages make a connection between Christ’s death on the cross and our status with God, life on the earth, and beyond. Words like redemption, sacrifice, and reconciled are used in to describe the meaning of Christ’s death for us.
He brought all of the dying to end. In the Old Testament, people brought animal sacrifices to God. All throughout history, people have done all sorts of crazy things, from human sacrifice, to self-torture and deprivation, to trying to keep impossible rules to appease God (or the gods.)
Now he asks us to be living sacrifices, to represent him in a manner like Jesus to the rest of the world, and to the people in our world. Unfortunately, a good deal of the time we drop the ball, but that’s our mission. That’s why we are here. Our life is a response to his love and grace, not a condition for it.