Jesus was an angry guy. Nope, it wasn’t just that one time in the temple after he rode in a town and really needed a breakfast burrito. He was angry other times too. However, he didn’t get angry in the way we get angry, selfishly when things don’t go our way.  He got angry when the worship of God was misdirected and he got mad when he saw injustice. He really got upset, when people created obstacles to God.  As Sarah Sumner observes:

  Jesus is a friend of sinners. He’s an advocate for those who need to hear his loving call and realize that his love can make them clean. Jesus welcomes sinners to come home. It’s when people deny the fact that we ourselves are sinners that our dishonesty provokes the ire of God. (Angry Like Jesus, Fortress Press 2015, p11).

When you read the gospels, you discover that the Pharisees were at loggerheads with Jesus, and they are objects of his anger. Often Jesus butted heads with them just as he sat down to eat.

The Pharisees were annoyed at the type of people Jesus ate with. When Jesus called Matthew, one of his twelve disciples, he went to dinner at Matthew’s house and ‘many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.  When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?'” (Matthew 9:10-11). Jesus responds by saying, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  But go and learn what this means: desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:12-13).

I know we are used to a sanitized savior, but don’t you hear a little Son-of-God snippiness in Jesus’ response? Jesus didn’t like the Pharisees’ policy of exclusion.  Again he said,”The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. But wisdom is proved right by her deeds'”(Matthew 11:19).  And we can’t forget the reaction of the Pharisees when a woman of ill-repute anointed Jesus’ feet as he dined at one of their houses? (Luke 7:36-50).  Tax collectors. Prostitutes. Sinners. Jesus was in constant conflict with the religious establishment because of the type of people he chose to include.

The Kingdom of God is like a great banquet (Luke 14:15-24). When the guests that should be there didn’t come, the master sent invites the poor, the crippled, the blind and lame. When Jesus sat down at the table, he inaugurated a spirituality of radical inclusion. Those who had been excluded from the banquet found themselves sitting at the table with the Son of God. The only one’s left out the banquet were those who refused to join the feast.

With apologies to Jonathan Edwards (who got ousted from his Northampton congregation for making it more difficult for folks to join the church, receive communion and be baptized), we are not sinners in the hands of an Angry God, but we are in the ands of a hangry one. Dinner is served and Jesus is hungry. He looks towards heaven and thanks the Father for the meal he provided. We know we are with him, by who we are willing to include at the table (the ands):

  • the LGBTQ Community

and

  • Trump Supporters

and

  • Black Lives Matter

and

  • Law Enforcement

and

  • Liberal Social Justice Warrior Snowflakes

and

  • The NRA

and

  • White Nationalists

and

  • Undocumented Migrant Workers

and

  • Eco Feminists

and

  • New Agers

and

  • Evangelicals

and

  • Muslims

. . .and whoever else. We know we are with Him by who we are willing to include at the table. We are the ands because we are included!

Are some of these ‘ands’ difficult for you? I know I don’t feel like welcoming everybody. I  can get down right judgy. People with particular ideologies or personal histories are sometimes hard for me to love. I can them off. But when I do, I am not operating out of the Spirit of Christ. It is fear, or me feeling like I’m better than them. And yet the banquet is on and Jesus anger burns against those who would exclude others from the feast.

Painting by Sieger Kroder- Jesus Eats with Tax Collectors and Sinners

One thought on “Sinners in the “ands of a hangry God”

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