Speaking of Life 5045│ Undercover Jesus
There’s a TV show called Undercover Boss. Maybe you’ve watched it before. The show revolves around a high-ranking executive or business owner who goes undercover as an entry-level employee in their own company, taking an alias, changing their appearance, and making up a back story. These undercover bosses work in different locations with their unsuspecting employees, and they learn a lot about their own business and their employees.
If we think about Jesus’ incarnation, we might compare it to God showing up in an unexpected way. No one would suspect a craftsman from Nazareth with his questionable parentage and birth story. In Matthew 21, an altercation between the chief priests, elders, and Jesus shows us that they almost blew his cover:
When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why, then, did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for all regard John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
Matthew 21:23-27 (NRSVUE)
It might be more accurate to say that they did figure out he was the Son of God undercover, but if they acknowledged that, they might lose their power and authority over the people. Undercover Jesus was not the Messiah they had expected. He didn’t look rich or powerful, and he certainly didn’t exert his authority over the common person as they did. Jesus went out of his way to disrupt their authority. So when Jesus asked them where John got his authority to baptize, they lied and said they didn’t know.
Jesus learned a lot about his people that day, just like undercover bosses learn what it is like to walk a day in their employees’ shoes – their joys and their struggles. The chief priests and elders let their expectations blind them to the Son of God standing right in front of them. Jesus taught that those who repented and turned back toward their Father would be first in the Kingdom of God, while those who stubbornly resisted divine love wouldn’t understand the peace and joy that was theirs all along.
Think about the expectations we have for the way God shows up in the world. Do we resist the peace God wants us to have because we think God should show up in our lives in a certain way? Holding fast to expectations doesn’t allow for the mystery of God to unfold in our lives in the way God deems best. We need to let God do his work in our lives because we can trust that whatever he is doing is for our good. God may be working undercover in ways that are far beyond anything we could imagine.
May we let go of expectations that keep us captive to unhelpful thoughts about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Instead, may we be open to the mystery, love, joy, and peace of God.
I’m Michelle Fleming, Speaking of Life.