When Charles Wesley returned from the British colonies in America, he continued his ministry in the United Kingdom. In 1740, while traveling and preaching, he was chased by an angry mob, while being chased and hiding behind a barn, he wrote one of the most loved poems in the English language:

Jesus, Lover of my Soul

Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.

Wilt Thou not regard my call? Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?
Lo! I sink, I faint, I fall—Lo! on Thee I cast my care;
Reach me out Thy gracious hand! While I of Thy strength receive,
Hoping against hope I stand, dying, and behold, I live.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy Name, I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.

I like this poem, in itself, and because of the story. This guy writes poetry while he’s being chased by people who want to beat him! What kind of man writes the lyrics to one of the most endearing hymns while running for his life? He is actually worshipping God in the midst of hands-on persecution!

He is a man elevated by faith and illuminated by grace.

Faith in God gives Believers a dependency on God, without despair. Faith gives us the proper perspective of life and life’s issues; especially during difficult times.

Grace, the kind a sinner knows of God’s undeserved kindness, makes a Believer a mirror of grace, reflecting the light of God’s presence everywhere.

Additionally, the presence of Jesus in one’s life makes faith’s endeavors a partnership, where Jesus works with the Believer everyday while they live on earth. The Believer knows that the most important Someone is watching them, listening and ready to guide.

In Matthew 8:5-13 Jesus walks into Capernaum, the hometown of Simon-Peter and Andrew, and is met by a Roman officer. The centurion must have known Jesus was coming because he met him as he entered the city, and he knew about Jesus. He believed that Jesus was who he said was; the centurion also knew who he was in comparison with Jesus. The officer wouldn’t let Jesus come into his house; he knew his home was not worthy of Jesus’ presence.

Matt 8:5-13

I am sure the story of Jesus collaborating with an enemy of the State angered a lot of good Jewish people. Jesus is helping the Romans! Jesus does three things wrong here:

  1. He talks to the officer “Hello, how are you; how’s the occupation, how’s the war, how’s Caesar?” You just don’t make small talk with the evil overlords of your people!
  2. He heals his servant. Jesus genuinely cares about this soldier and his servant. He listens, he acts.
  3. He rewards the officer with a spiritual secret. The secret:  heaven is open to Gentiles who believe; believing Gentiles will replace Jews who do not.

He publicly admonishes the Israelites who are listening and affirms the Roman centurion. Have you ever noticed that Jesus doesn’t care about what the crowd thinks? Once again, he leaves the 99 in order to save the one, that’s what good shepherds do.

The Christian faith is the same in the nameless centurion as it is in Charles Wesley:

He is a man elevated by faith and illuminated by grace.

Faith in God gives believers a dependency on God, without despair. Faith gives us the proper perspective of life and life’s issues; especially during difficult times.

Grace, the kind a sinner knows of God’s undeserved kindness, makes a Believer a mirror of grace, reflecting the light of God’s presence everywhere.

Additionally, the presence of Jesus in one’s life makes faith’s endeavors a partnership, where Jesus works with the Believer everyday while they live on earth. The Believer knows that the most important Someone is watching them, listening and ready to guide.

The story of the centurion has always been one of my favorites because it ruins everything; Jesus saves the guy that nobody likes. Everybody wants this guy dead, but Jesus wants him to live; to be saved.

The passage about the centurion ruins my love of revenge, and I love revenge. I love it when criminals get caught and are punished. I love it when people who bother me have a bad day. I love it when rude people miss the bus, lose their keys or drop their phones. I love it when I get my way.

Jesus’ honest, compassionate response to the centurion ruins my sense of self-righteousness. And I love my self-righteousness. Jesus compassion for others ruins my hatred.

How can I hate those whom Jesus loves?

How can I disagree with the Savior who saved me, another unworthy gentile?

We have a common phrase in the West that is fitting here, “To get into bed with…”

This phrase means that someone helps their enemy, or rival, in order to get something they want. For example, “Democrats got into bed with Republicans…”, “Environmentalists got into bed with oil companies…”, “The union got into bed with negotiators…”

When we say “they got into bed together…” we mean one side compromised its standards and made an agreement with their enemy. It’s not a compliment. It’s a derogatory phrase use to highlight compromised integrity, a weakening of will.

It is fitting to say, “Jesus got into bed with the Romans.” When he stopped and talked to the centurion, I’m sure a lot of people were thinking it; I would have.

I would have used the word, “collaborator”, to cooperate treasonably, as with an enemy occupation force in one’s country.

We all know that after any war, there are trials for civilians who collaborated with the occupying army; French civilians with Germans after WW 2, for example. The worst name one person could call another citizen, at a time like this, is “collaborator”. It has terrifying results, and a witch hunt ensues.

I believe that Jesus’ compassion is treasonable. His love knows no boundaries or nationalistic loyalties. His heart has no passport. As we see in this room, it his love that has brought us all together, regardless of our family heritage.

But the betrayal of his love is more devastating than that. I am convinced that he is not taken by our nationalistic cries of allegiance; I do not think Jesus condones our strong feeling toward the Japanese; those of us from countries that fought with Japan.

Jesus gets into bed with the Japanese too. And the Russians, Americans, North Koreans, British, Taliban, bad fathers, alcoholics, angry mothers, murders, liars, witches, pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers, and yes, even us.

God is not limited by human crimes.

The human heart has the capacity for conflicting emotional priorities. Desire and reason constantly argue over who’s in charge. Jesus moves comfortably between social groups because he doesn’t see social groups; he sees humanity. He doesn’t treat a pastor differently than a murderer because he sees their humanity as the same. He knows that the human heart is corrupt, a man who has never murdered has still thought about murder. There is a small capacity for killing even in the heart of a good man; a good woman. The capacity to sin is always in the heart of each person. Jesus is not distracted by social customs, fashion, status, or language…

This is what makes poor people angry at God when he does not answer their prayer: “God, help me, I am poor!”

This is what angers a rich person when God does not answer their prayer: “I am important, hear me God, I have status!”

God doesn’t recognize what we consider “special” status, he only sees us as broken.

The treasonable love of God in Christ for this broken humanity leaves Jesus greatly misunderstood, even by his closest companions.

Let’s look at his friends:  Can you name any of Jesus’ friends?

I have to say, if somewhat satirically, that Hitler had better friends than Jesus. At least he paid his friends well.

Jesus made big promises that no one would know if they were true until they were dead, and they would have to spend their life striving in a faith that kept them believing. It’s not a great friend-making method.

Jesus had the worst friends, but he never closed his heart. (He was more interested in making disciples than friends.)

I don’t believe Jesus had social friends. I don’t believe he “had fun” with his friends, simply because he was a man on a mission, and the days were closing on his death. He knew that. Although, I do believe that Jesus wanted to have social friends; weekends off and a home of his own. He could have had these things as a carpenter, but he was more than that, he knew he was a savior. He chose to be a walking teacher and take his class on field trips where they could interact with the world and they could see him do the same.

Jesus was a demon hunter, he went out looking for trouble, knowing demons would avoid coming to him for conflict if he remained in a classroom. Jesus also looked for the sick and lame who couldn’t possibly come to him for healing. Jesus was fully accessible to everyone. He chose to be.

Jesus didn’t have a very good life, but he was close to God. Our lives are much more comfortable than Jesus’ life.

Let’s look at his life: he lived in an occupied country, he was poor, misunderstood, a wanted man, assassins were after him, he was sensitive to the suffering around him—caring made him vulnerable, he had a borrowed tomb,  he was falsely accused and executed,

Jesus was a broken man, but not broken spiritually.

Jesus was misunderstood by his parents; he had a peculiar birth story. His cousin John was a prophet, his Mom was a virgin-whore, and his Dad was a redneck. He couldn’t have had a “normal” childhood, given his family’s reputation.

Not much is said of his childhood, we can only speculate. When Jesus left home, he also left the family business. You’re not supposed to do that. Can you imagine his parent’s anxiety and questions?

“How will you make a living; where will you live? Who will take care of us; when will you marry? What about children?”

Sound familiar? Believers who follow Jesus closely have heard these same questions.

Jesus went through what he expects us to go through. He understands our prayers.

What kind of savior would Jesus be if was driving around in a sports car with two girl friends; what if Jesus could buy his way out of trouble? What if he was strong and a trained warrior; would he have known injustice and abuse?

The World thinks of heroes as special individuals who save society from an insidious menace, often with perfect timing. Heroes are trim, handsome and smiley. Heroes have resources and connections. Heroes have the equipment they need to complete their tasks, and all good people love them. These heroes exist in movies; they are created for our entertainment. They don’t save anyone.

Compare Jesus with Batman: Batman didn’t disciple anyone, and he had an alter-ego, he had wealth, girls, champagne, a butler and a mansion. He had a friend.

Let me tell you something: Batman needs Jesus, but Jesus doesn’t need Batman. If Batman tried to rescue Jesus from the Romans, Jesus would have seen a man in desperate need of salvation; Jesus would have reached out to him and ministered to him.

Jesus only sees a broken humanity, because that all there is to see; even our super heroes need a savior!

What does a savior do that a super hero doesn’t?

  • A savior’s first priority is the condition of the soul; is it obedient unto God?
  • A savior address poverty of the soul; the true source of poverty in the world
  • A savior doesn’t use gimmicks or gadgets
  • A savior will actually die for you, but not be limited by death—Jesus doesn’t have a stunt double!
  • A savior will let you die so that you will live
  • Jesus taught, “love your enemies”, Batman can’t do that
  • Jesus put real fear into the heart of real evil; he’s a demon fighter

What does a super hero do that a savior doesn’t?

  • A super hero will always save the day, but never the soul
  • A super hero relies upon guile and gimmicks
  • A super hero is limited by his, or her own humanity

If Jesus had a super power, what do you think it would be?

If Jesus had a super power it would be compassion. He is the one whom God sent to treasonably love and heal each of us. He doesn’t care about our club loyalties. They are not the point. He cares about our soul, which is the property of God.

When God became man, he walked the labyrinth of human society. He became a man with a nation; a home and a family. He saw soldiers, politicians, fishermen, teachers and priests. He knows the pangs of hunger and thirst; of hopes deferred. He knows the sinful state of our hearts and he reaches our most treasonably, to minister to our families and share secrets about salvation.

His professional life, family life and social life were, at best, unsatisfactory. But he was happy; he was excited about what God was doing in humanity; in individual lives.

His tragic experience here is what makes us accessible to him. He can honestly say, “I understand”, and he does.

Jesus struggled with human issues, money issues, relational, war, nationalism…

We can look to him as the lover of our souls.

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