Jesus is a WHAT??
I first read the following story in seminary in the ’80s.:
They don’t call Holland “the Low Countries” for nothing. Flooding is a regular problem. One year things were particulary bad. On a certain Sunday morning in Amsterdam, the police knocked on the parsonage of a Christian minister very early. “The river is rising,” they said, “And your church is directly in the path. Rouse your flock and get them to start filling sandbags to shore up the levees if you don’t want to be swept away.”
Good advice, no? Well this was a fundamentalist church which was focused on strict obedience to the LAW OF GOD as they understood it. The pastor couldn’t decide whether it was moral to break the Sabbath and do WORK even to keep the church from being swept away. So, he convened an emergency early meeting of the church council. The council had no doubts: God is Sovereign and omnipotent and can easily save the church by miracle–if that is the Divine Will. The job of the church was to hold worship as normal and either live or die to God’s glory–not sin by breaking the Sabbath.
The pastor was a little squeamish about this conclusion. He asked, “Did not even Jesus break the Sabbath laws from time to time? Did Jesus not say the Sabbath was made for humans and not humans for the Sabbath?” An old deacon immediately got up and said, “Pastor, I’m glad you mentioned that. It allows me to bring up something that has troubled me for some time. I cannot shake the feeling that our Lord Jesus is just a little bit liberal.”
Told originally by NT scholar Ernst Käsemann in Der Ruf der Freiheit (Mohr, 1968). Published in English as Jesus Means Freedom (Fortress, 1969), p. 16.
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