Ben’s brother Dan is a student at Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon. Today during school-wide chapel (Multnomah is a Bible college; think of Dan as Multnomah’s Max Fischer, if you will) he read an excerpt from a book he’s been writing. It was received warmly, and many of his classmates asked for a copy afterwards. We asked him for a copy too, and then after we read it we asked if he’d be willing to let us post it on the blog today. He said yes. We hope you enjoy.
“Mom always said it is good to make an entrance. That’s a lie. It was my dad that said that. That’s a lie too. We aren’t doing a good job of building trust. How can you tell if everything I’m about to say is a lie? You can’t. You’ll just have to take my word for it, but as I have shown so far, my word isn’t trustworthy. I made up lies, so they all fit nice, and so I made this sad world a paradise.”
Thank you for coming today, my friends, my new friends … all of you are my friends. Dare I say I love you, that I’m in love with you today? This isn’t true. I may not even like most of you … but I can pretend, yes that’s what I’ll do … I’ll pretend to love you this morning.
I’m going to love on you today, all through the night, and into the dawn.
Today, I am going to take you on a journey beyond imagining. I’m going to take you on an adventure. I am going to tell you a story right now, a story filled with romance, intrigue and suspense.
None of that is true. It contains none of those things, and it’s not even a story. It’s a commentary. A commentary on Matthew. Sure, I may sprinkle in a story here and there, but they will be few and far between.
Let the chapter reading begin…
Jesus wasn’t a circus clown, he wasn’t a telemarketer, and he wasn’t a barista. But if he was a circus clown, I bet he would’ve been hilarious. And if he was a telemarketer, I bet he could get everyone to buy his company’s stuff. And if he was a barista, I’m sure he would’ve made the best cussin’ coffee ever.
But he was none of these things. By ruling out what he was not, what he is not, I have come to the conclusion that he must’ve been the Son of God.
What does that really mean for me, for us? I’ll read through the first four gospels, the only four gospels actually (there isn’t a fifth one, I learned that at Bible College), but I will read the gospels and then I will give you a full report of what I have learned. I will make an attempt to forget all that I know and have learned, and to just read the gospels as I see them. I will call it as I see it. But first, I heard a sermon the other day and…
…something just sank in. It took me almost twenty-eight years to fully realize this, but it will change everything from here on out. And if you listen, it’ll change your world forever.
God is angry. But he is also in love. It’s equal, it’s not one or the other, it’s not one of these more than the other. Anyway, if it weren’t for Jesus, God’s wrath would be on me. It would be on me like a hurricane or some other natural disaster. And I would deserve it. But because of Jesus, because of what he did for me, for us, that wrath has been swallowed up. And we are free now. We are free to love God as we are. If that doesn’t change your world, I don’t know what will.
I’ve heard sermons, dozens and dozens of sermons, on this topic. Then just this moment it sank in. All I know is that I’m mixed up in a love affair, all I know is I’m the bride and I’ve never been happier to be a woman.
Listen to me, will you? This has huge implications. “Because of the cross, my debt is paid.” I owe him everything. Everything that I am now belongs to Him. I don’t deserve it, but I’m not going to question it. I’m going to go put on my dress now, I’m going to put flowers in my hair, and earrings in my ears … I’m the bride, and I’m getting married today. I’m going to go shave my legs…
Now, let’s talk about Jesus. Let’s start at the beginning of the gospels, a very good place to start…
Genealogies blah blah blah … this serves its purpose though … to put you to sleep when you’ve run out of Nyquil or any other sleep aids. I use to love Nyquil, but I’d have crazy dreams about running through Wal-Mart with a baseball bat hitting people with it while using my other arm to grab stuff off the shelves. Now I don’t touch the stuff, and I have dreams that my dogs have lizard tongues and that I need to kill them with a baseball bat before they kill me. I guess the Nyquil had nothing to do with it.
Matthew 1:21. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and says, “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” It is very clear here that only J.C. can save people from their sins. I just did a paper on Inclusivism, a matter that has to do with what eternity looks like for people who haven’t heard the gospel. C.S. Lewis stated something along the lines of, There are similarities in all the major religions, and maybe those similarities are enough to give someone salvation. I like to believe that this is true, however, I know our God is a jealous God, so I will not won’t not absolutely not take a stand on this issue.
This is going to take too long … going through the gospels one book at a time, one page at a time, one chapter at a time, one verse at a time, one word at a time. How about I highlight some of my favorites? I don’t know if that will make it any shorter, because the whole Bible is my favorite!
I’m sucking up to you, Jesus. Do you like that? Or is it annoying, like fingernails on a chalkboard?
[take a bow]
(Editor’s note: Dan did take a bow.)