Clinging to the wrong Jesus

Somehow I consistently find myself clinging to the wrong Jesus. It’s not that my Jesus is the wrong person. I cling to the Jesus of the Bible, truly God and truly man, who lived, died, and rose again to save me. My Jesus is not the wrong person; He lives in the wrong time. I want the Jesus of the past instead of the Jesus who is coming.

The old Jesus dealt with sickness through healing. He dealt with evil by casting it out. He dealt with sinners by eating and drinking with them. He dealt with the poor by sharing with them. But sometimes the sick people in my life don’t get better. Sometimes there seems to be no answer for the evil in this world. Sometimes I feel like I am alone even though I am surrounded with people. I feel like there must be something wrong with me. Maybe I did something wrong. Maybe Jesus is mad at me. Maybe Jesus is pushing me away. My instincts are completely wrong. I’m just clinging to the wrong Jesus.

On Easter Sunday we heard the resurrected Jesus tell Mary, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”

It almost sounds like Jesus is giving Mary the Heisman. Upon closer examination it is clear that Jesus is not pushing Mary away, but drawing her closer in.

Listen to what Jesus is saying. He says “don’t cling to me.” Why? Because he has not yet ascended to the Father. Jesus is saying, you don’t want me down here you want me up there. I am going to my Father and your Father; my God and your God. Jesus is telling Mary that she will also rise from the dead one day. She will also have a glorious resurrected body. She will also ascend to the Father.

Mary just wants to go back to the way things were before. She wants to watch Jesus eat and drink with sinners, heal the sick, cast out demons, oppose the self-righteous, and make sense of the Bible. Jesus is telling Mary that his entire ministry was nothing compared with what He is about to do.

Our lives are fragile. Sooner or later we are going to crush the things that we cling to. When I cling to my marriage as my only source of happiness or I cling to it as my only source of unhappiness I end up crushing my marriage. I camp out in the pit of self-pity and I demand things from my wife that are unfair to expect from her. The answer is not to diversify my stock in happiness either. It’s not enough to just build a man cave for “me time.” It’s not enough to go out every now and then with the fellas. It’s not enough to find happiness in my work or in hobbies. It’s not even enough to find happiness in religious activities that make me feel like a better person. Sooner or later the market is going to crash. We never stay on top forever.

Think of the things in this world that seem like they will last forever. There is music that has lasted for centuries. There is art, architecture, and literature that has lasted millennia. There are mountains and rivers and seas and valleys and stars that have lasted longer than we can count. Jesus is saying that Mary will last forever. Jesus turns sinful people plagued by death into something so glorious that like Him we must rise from the dead (John 20:9).

The only way to stop clinging to my life is by clinging to Jesus – not the Jesus before the cross but the Jesus after the cross. The problem with the old Jesus was that His disciples loved Him but were scared to death of the cross. The Jesus who is coming has turned the cross into a gateway to eternal life and glory.

Clinging to the resurrected Jesus gives me strength not only to endure the cross but to choose the cross in my marriage. Without the resurrection I can be selfless with my wife when she is being selfless with me; but I will not let her crucify me. I will not sacrifice myself completely for her. It is only when I know how glorious my life in Christ is that I can love my wife completely selflessly. Only the resurrection can give me the strength to give my wife true grace.

What are some ways that you cling to the wrong Jesus?

What difference would it make if you clung more to the resurrected Jesus in your life?


About David Lee

I am the pastor of New Life Mission Church of Fremont meeting in Newark, CA. I live in Fremont with my wife and three children. In my former life I was a history teacher at Irvington High School in Fremont. I love watching and discussing movies (but not at the same time), playing board games, hiking, visiting local cafes, and watching and complaining about (at the same time) Bay Area sports.
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