• kendall emmert

Wouldn't Jesus Wear Birkenstocks?

What if Jesus came now? Not for the LAST time, the BIG time, the RAPTURE time, but to sort of check in. Just for a little while. To the Christians.

Because if he did . . . I have so. many. questions.

First of all, where would he show up?

And how old would he be? I mean, surely not a BABY again! And please, oh please, not a teenager, a millennial, or maybe . . . as one of my beloved, Nirvana-loving, original naval pierced Gen Xers?

What kind of shoes would he wear? Nikes? Slides? Surely Birkenstocks. Surely.

And where would he shop? Old Navy? Goodwill? Neiman Marcus? Um, no.

What would his first language be? If not English, what kind of accent would he have? We judge intelligence by accent. We adore a good European accent. Most accents from the Middle East, however, sometimes reveal a bit of mistrust in the quiet parts of our American souls.

What if he talked like a rapper from deep within the city? Oh. My. Word. Could my little, midwestern heart even hear him at all? And if he had the drawl of a country singer, I would certainly dismiss him. Seriously.

Who would be his chosen twelve? Would they be limited to the place he was living? Or would it be a multi-national hodge-podge of cultures and languages? Maybe some Zoom meetings.

What about their gender? Oooo la la! Now, that is a question!

Would he walk down the middle of the street? (For some reason, I always imagine him walking down the middle of the street.)

Would he spend his time in cities? Near an ocean? In the mountains? What about a desert? Where would he go to be alone and pray?

And how long would he stay around? More than thirty-three years or less? Or would he give us just another three years of truth? Or more.

Would he post pictures on social media, be the only guy on VSCO without a girlfriend, host podcasts? Would he do an interview on Al Jazeera television? MSNBC? Fox News (oh man, please no). Maybe just start his own broadcasting network? Who would he interview?

Like he did for the Jewish people of the New Testament, would he re-explain some of the things we’ve been certain about:

Yes, I know you think THIS, but that is not what He meant. You have it all wrong. It’s about the heart, not just the doing. It’s about the intent, not simply the actions. It’s about the journey, not only moments. Yes, you’ve followed the rules well, but that is not the point. You’ve missed the point.

Where are we just simply wrong? Where would he re-interpret our books, our philosophies, our very foundations of belief and understanding?

Aren’t we a little like the Jewish people at the time of his first coming?

We have created systems, built schools, written books about methods, and developed processes based upon what people wrote about his life. We have established the message that we’ve heard. We have simplified his life and its meaning to sound bites, so that the masses can easily understand and commit.

In so many ways, aren’t we exactly like those who we like to scorn in the New Testament? We think about how “deaf” they were to the truth literally speaking right in front of them.

We say the title Pharisee like it’s a cuss word. (Pastor. Priest. Reverend.)

We scoff at their ignorance and roll our eyes at their inability to “see” the Good News shining light right into their eyes. But if you don’t believe that you are lost, there is no need to be found.

So, what would he say to us? And how would we respond? (Yikes.)

I imagine that we would respond just exactly as we read the Pharisees responded: Aghast! Shocked! A bit of how dare you, justifying what we say, think, and what we absolutely know is true; stomping like children upon the foundations of our very faith. We would be deeply offended.

One of my deepest, darkest questions (I mean, we can probably call it fear) is, “Would I recognize him?”

Then there is this question, this very bold question that I am dying to know: Would he choose me?

Would he look at me and know me and see me and then . . . choose me to be among his closest, dearest friends to whom he explained all the things, while sitting around a fire, laughing? Would he think I was funny? Inappropriate? Would he delight in me? Would he like my stories?

Would he ask me, “Who do YOU say that I am?”


Your Turn—

Read Luke 4:16-21, 28-30:

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

  • If you could sit across a fire with Jesus today, what would you ask him? What would you want clarified? Write this dialogue.

  • Who are you in the crowd? Are you furious? Intrigued? Are you even listening? Are you distracted? Write a paragraph from your perspective upon hearing his declaration.

  • What is your answer to the question, “Who do you say that I am?” Write a story in which Jesus asks you this question in a setting with which you’re familiar. Your home, your favorite trail, your favorite overlook. Have you been walking? Mountain biking? Did you just come in from a swim in the ocean? Get as detailed as possible and answer his question.

  • Sketch a modern-day Jesus. What is he wearing, where is he at, what is the look on his face?

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