So often Jesus’ words seem to be contradictions. He brings a gospel of opposites. Everything is upside-down, backwards, and the opposite of what it should be. He says, ‘The last shall be first’ (Mark 10:31). Give if you want to receive (Luke 6:38). Living means giving up your life (Matt. 10:39). To be a leader, you must be a servant (Matt. 20:26-28).
Why does Jesus put opposites side by side?
Opposites in the City
I had the privilege of going to Jordan and Israel for a short period several years ago. I haven’t really done a lot of traveling but there was something that was distinctly wonderful about the city of Jerusalem. It wasn’t because it’s the land of the Bible but rather its diversity.
Modern-day Jerusalem is a real mixing pot. Faiths co-exist, ethnic groups, try to be peaceful and above all, there are the extremes of architecture. The Old City and the new city are side by side. Ancient buildings next to ultra-modern ones. Stones telling thousand-year-old stories reflect off modern glass panels.
These are the extreme opposites that struck me most of all because they so vividly remind me of the Gospel of Jesus.
A Gospel of Opposites
To follow Jesus is to follow a gospel of opposites. We are loved by a Holy God, yet we do unholy things. Jesus clothes us in His righteousness because we are unrighteous. We are been made into new creations, yet we live within old creation.
Paul realizes the extreme opposites of the gospel life. In Romans 7:14-25 he shares of the struggle that we all face as followers of Jesus. He writes about our battle between doing what’s wrong even though we want to do what’s right.
Juxtapositions highlight opposites. They show us tension. We live with tension as followers of Jesus. The gospel highlights the past reality that Jesus died, was resurrected and forgave us. We celebrate this truth. We’re also certain of a future gospel reality that Jesus will return and restore or recreate all things. It can be a struggle living in the tension between those times; seeing how the gospel shapes the way we live in the present.
This post originally appeared on DarrylEyb.net and was republished with permission.
I am a pastor, blogger and speaker. I help ordinary people connect with an extraordinary God, so they can follow Jesus in their everyday life.