I’ve been spending time in the parables with Jesus and Robert Capon. It has been a fantastic journey of revelation. The more I peer into the parables with the mind of Christ I see something so powerful about His way of communicating. Actually you can see Jesus use similar techniques in His ministry in general. He has a way of taking all our aggression and wisdom and insistence on self-rightness and turning into something very different. Like a great Judo master He moves a foot, shifts His weight and the darkness is thrown in another spectacular display of misdirection. Think about it. Don’t even open the book for a moment and just ponder Jesus. Look at Him interacting with people. Don’t you see it clearly? Doesn’t He have this perplexing way of “not answering the question” but instead turns it around so we actually have more questions? That is the beauty of God. He is defined by relationship. His every expression is in the context of a triune identity. He wants to go deeper and deeper with us but first has to take all our fallen-Adam dark ways of thinking and flipping them upside down. When we are missing Him in our understanding, He will insist that we see Him as He is. This often feels a little like frustration until we “see” the light shining through the darkness. We “see” Jesus and have that “what???” lightbulb moment. Osu, Oss, Hi Ya, and there we are on the mat of revelation.
I like to call it the Jesus judo move. Here is something very profound that I didn’t know…Judo means “gentle way.” What??? Hi ya!
In our fallen way of thinking we have elevated “knowledge” above all else in western religion. Just this weekend I had an exchange where the other person was expressing the certainty of his knowledge and the importance of my believing his rightness. Can I say that the “passion” with which he expressed himself was a sure sign that a judo move was needed. I didn’t have one in the moment. Instead I took the farmer route and planted some seeds. Check out the last post for more about those seeds and weeds.
Jesus encountered this often. Actually the insistence of human perceived rightness killed Him on a cross. Our broken perspective of God made Jesus out to be the criminal that needed to be killed. Jesus said nobody knows the Father but Him. He said nobody has seen the Father but Him. The children of Abraham were pretty upset about that. Many “christians” of the western world are still very upset about that. Instead of seeking and getting answers from Jesus they insist on “balancing” Jesus with Isaiah or Jeremiah or even Moses. Don’t get me wrong…these are amazing men of God doing their best with what they had but they didn’t know the Father. Jesus said it, not me. Their wisdom and Adamic insistence on a fallen human perspective was the very thing that put Jesus on the cross. Little did we know that the cross was the ultimate judo move. Killing Him killed us. Rejecting Him saved us. Beating Him healed us. Come on! That deserves an Oss.
Still today we want to hold onto something that we can claim as ours. We have to take credit for something. We say “well brother that inclusion stuff is all well and good but we have to believe, have faith, say the magic words…” Why can’t we just let it go. Instead of getting tossed onto the mat we can just let Him love us, can’t we? Capon says
“to make belief the touchstone of the kingdom’s operation is simply to turn Faith into just one more cold work. Of course we must believe but only because the is nothing left for us to do but believe.”
Did you see it? Judo throw…nothing left for us to do but believe…
Jesus tells a parable about how the Kingdom is like leaven in dough (Matt 13 and Luke 13). In the parable of the leaven the imagery and undeniable implications are profound in a completely disarming way. The leaven was already there. The amount of dough can only suggest the entire world. And regardless of our action or inaction, the yeast is doing its work. Arguably the resistance of us is the kneading of the dough that produces the gluten that makes the rise and loaf possible. Our sticky sinfulness keeps the dough elastic and pliable to receive the carbon dioxide bubbles of expansive potential. Like the breath of life the yeast produces the bubbles of expanding gases that make the dough uniquely bread. God breaths and life comes forth. The kingdom cannot be stopped. The resistance of man is just a part of the process. God takes our best moves and redirects them into transforming work.
It is like the great judo master with the student. We run head long in rebellion or self effort and God redirects our momentum into a role changing light of life moment. The more we insist on being right in our effort and wisdom and knowledge, the more abrupt the judo throw to the mat. There we are with a mouth full of martial art canvas wondering what just happened. We try to regain our advantage with brilliant debate skills supported by meticulous recitation of tradition and dogmatic doctrine to find Jesus putting His knee in our back while twisting our arm with increasing pressure. The more we struggle the tighter the grip and the deeper the lock. At some point we will realize our demise and stop resisting His love. We cry uncle and die to our good-bad master and surrender to a finished work. The master has schooled the student again.
In a very real way this will be what happens at the judgment seat of Jesus. The sin problem has been dealt with. He doesn’t remember our sins or count them against us anymore (Heb 8, 10). So when we are standing there we are face to face with the judo master. Wherever we are still resisting His love and mercy and grace we find ourselves in a choke hold. Wherever we insist on being right in our own wisdom or knowledge or effort, we are body slammed into the mat again. Wherever we “must have our day in court” we meet a fiery furnace of intense love that burns away any concept we have of justice and instead leaves us with His justice…the inclusion of us in His family. If we are standing there and we must have our law and our way and the condemnation of all those who are not like us like the ….fill in the blank….then we will find the moment quite revealing and possibly all-consuming. Paul calls it refining or burning away stubble. John calls it burning the chaff. Jesus calls it knowing Him.
Let me leave you with one more practical example of the Jesus judo move.
They bring Jesus a woman caught in adultery. The Pharisees (which means separatists) are trying to catch Jesus breaking the law. They are operating out of darkness. The darkness is missing Jesus. The darkness is living in fear. The darkness is living in condemnation and casting it on others. The darkness is believing there is separation between God and man (He was standing right there!). Their insistence on darkness while operating from the law was “logically” the “right” answer to the problem. Kill her was their cry! Jesus knew better.
The woman was also operating from within the darkness. Her sin was likely an expression of something founded in the darkness. Rejection, coercion, deceit, hurts, pains, desperation, or a myriad of other reasons born of the darkness. When she comes to Him she is broken for sure. The guilt and shame and condemnation are overwhelming. When the darkness comes against the darkness there is nothing but darkness. No light at all. Condemnation and fear and separation are dominating the moment.
Now Jesus performs an amazing Judo move. For the woman we get it right away. He doesn’t condemn her, He empowers her. Free from condemnation she can “see the light” and operate from within the light. She is set free to live Life instead of eating from the “good bad tree.” For the Pharisees it is more subtle but incredibly profound. They are insistent on judgment. (how many today sitting in the First Assembly of the I am Holy are doing the same thing, just saying) They have the rocks in their hands. Jesus goes right to the heart of the matter. We were never meant to judge! Can you see that? The good bad tree has us believing that we must judge and are perfectly suited to judge and are appointed as judges and “know better than anyone else because we are right” and Jesus goes for the sidestep with a shift in balance and Hi Ya! He sets them free. I don’t know if you saw that so let me say it again. He sets them free! Come on.
It is easy to vilify the Pharisees but they are just representatives of the dark way of thinking that can be in all of us when we believe God is angry, mean, vengeful, separate, punishing, hurting, accusing, condemning. All of those qualities are FALLEN MANKIND qualities that are projected on God. He loves us. He really really really loves us. He wants us to know we are His kids. He wants us to enjoy our new family. He wants us to share our family joy with everyone so they will know they are in the family too. It isn’t that hard and it has nothing to do with being right. Jesus is right. Jesus is in us. Jesus is joined to us. We are right in and only in Him. The greatest judo move…He included us and didn’t even ask if it was OK. Wow!@!@!