THE JESUS I DIDN’T KNOW: THE KING WHO WOULDN’T BE KING

How well do you know Jesus? We all like to think we know Jesus pretty well. I’ve had close to fifty years of wonderful, sweet communion with Jesus. I’ve devoted over forty years of my life to studying and teaching His Word. I’m talking about going back to the original languages and learning as much as I can about Jewish culture, institutions, and beliefs. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Know-It-All. And you can ask my kids: I’m not inerrant or infallible. But still, knowing what I know, I’d like to think I know Jesus pretty good. To my pleasant surprise, however, I don’t know Jesus as good as I think I do. To this day, He still shows me more about Himself. Here, let me give you some snippets of the Jesus I never knew.

THE KING WHO WOULDN’T BE KING

Placing myself in James’ sandals, Hello everyone. My name is James and I’m one of Jesus’ twelve apostles. I hate to shove that in your face, but I make no bones about being one of the privileged few to be in Jesus’ inner circle of followers. I’m proud, I speak my mind, and I’m pretty loud about what I want and believe. They don’t call me the Son of Thunder for nothing, you know. I’ve got spiritual ambitions. I’m going straight to the top. One of these days I’ll be sitting on a throne at Jesus’ right side. I even got my ma going to bat for me; she’s gonna ask Jesus to let me and my brother John sit on either side of Him in glory. Yes sirree bub, I’m all about power and glory. And I’m gonna get there one day, just you wait and see.

Anyways, speaking about thrones, I’d like to tell you about a time in Jesus’ life that took me years to understand and accept. I’d been following Jesus from day one and, ever since that first time we met and talked, I just knew that the Guy was our long-prophesied King. Many of you know Him by Messiah, but I prefer to call Him King because that’s what Messiah really is—the King of Israel. A bunch of our prophets from years past prophesied that He’d come one day and reign on David’s throne. He’d rule—not only over Israel, but over all the world. Imagine that! A Jewish King of the whole world! Hey, I’m all for that. I live for that. I breathe for that. Naturally, when Jesus came along, you bet your bloomers I was happier than a hound dog. We Jews have been trampled under foot long enough by these no-good Romans. We’re ready for freedom. We want our independence. With Jesus at the Head of the army, we’re gonna rule the world! Gosh, I get the goose bumps just talking about it!

Well, we were at the outskirts of Bethsaida one day. Gobs and gobs of people were gathered there to hear Jesus preach and watch Him work miracles. We guesstimated about 5,000 men. Factoring in the women and kids, there was at least 10,000 folks there, no joshing. What a sight that was! It’s soooo cool being popular!

Anyways, Jesus came to us and asked us where we could get enough food to feed this humongous crowd. You’ve got to be kidding!, we all said in sheer disbelief. There was no way we had this kind of dough to buy the food. Besides that, there aren’t any restaurants or super Walmarts in Bethsaida that would have enough food to feed this starving mass. No way, Jesus!, we all chimed in.

Well, it just so happened that Andrew, a good buddy of mine, spotted a kid with 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fishes. He told Jesus about it and, to make a long story short, Jesus had us set all the people down. The kid gave his food to the Lord. Jesus prayed over it. Then He started passing out chunks of bread and fish for us to put in baskets, like offering plates, and pass around to all the people. We were dumbfounded! I mean to tell you, I kid you not, I saw it with my own two eyes, the Guy kept tearing off chunks of bread and fish without ever running out of the stuff! It was unreal! We couldn’t believe it. We’d never seen anything like it. We kept passing out baskets of food. And as soon as we’d empty a basket, Jesus had another basket ready and full. When it was all said and done, those 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fishes fed everyone to the gill! In fact, there was a bunch left over and Jesus had us collect them so that we could send food home with the people.

Well, everybody knew what Jesus had done. He’d miraculously multiplied the bread and fishes just so that He could feed them. He really cared about them. He didn’t want to see them go home starved. So He fed them, even if it took a miracle to do it. The people were so thankful and excited by the miracle that they got out of hand. From a distance, someone shouted King Jesus! King Jesus! And before we knew it, everyone picked up the chant. It was so loud that I bet you we were heard clear down to Jerusalem! Gobs of folks went up to Jesus, grabbed ahold of Him, and were going to make Him King (John 6:15). Of course, all of us disciples got caught up in the mood and the move. Everyone was hooting and hollering. This was the hour we’d all waited for. Jesus would be King! I stood proud and tall, knowing that we were on the verge of an historic independence and world-wide rule. My dreams of power and glory were finally coming to pass! Golly, how excited I was!

What happened next is what took me years to understand and accept. The King brushed the mob aside, He pulled a disappearing act, and, in a flash, He was gone! What’s happening?, we all asked. What’s going on? Where’s the King?  It was a really embarrassing moment for us disciples as the mob pressed us for an explanation. Jesus’ conduct was not what we’d expected from a King. I don’t remember what we told them. We just came up with something nice, something to calm them down. Then the twelve of us disciples went off in search for Him.

When we finally found Him and questioned Him, we weren’t quite ready for what we heard. We were mad! I mean, really volcanic! Turned out, Jesus didn’t want to be King! Why in Heaven not? Here was the King. He even told us many times that He was the King. Then, when it came time to be King, He turned it down and ran off like a possum about to be treed by a pack of hyenas. We were all shaken. We were in disbelief. And we were really ticked off. All along we believed that Jesus was the King. Now here He was, refusing to be King. Was He the King or not? Was He lying to us all along? If He was the King, then be the King and rule over the world. Jesus, you were meant to rule! That was the awfulest night we’d ever had. We couldn’t understand nothing. All our dreams of independence, power, and glory went up in the smoke of our campfire that night. And we were all too hurt to say anything, much less be nice. We just went to bed without saying a word.

Years later, after Jesus was killed and rose from the dead, we finally understood. Jesus was the King. He’d be coming back to earth to reign and rule as King. But first, He had to be the Lamb of God. A lamb dies so that a sinner can be saved and be forgiven. That’s what Jesus did at Calvary. He was the Lamb. He was the King too, but He was the Lamb first. He told me that many many times. But being the fool head that I was, I wouldn’t have any of this talk about dying. I was all wrapped up in ruling. That’s why I didn’t understand Him at Bethsaida. I thought I knew the King. I guess I was wrong. But I ain’t making that mistake again! Glory to God, I know Him now.

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