There comes a moment in every relationship when one person turns to the other and says, “I don’t even know who you are anymore. Who are you, and what have you done with my friend?” This often happens when we discover some hidden talent or ability. Discovering these surprises is one of the best things about relationships.
I’ve often found that my relationship with Jesus is sometimes surprising. The longer I walk with Him, the more I learn new things about Him I didn’t see coming. It might seem the limited information in the Bible would hamper these kinds of discoveries, but the more I read God’s Word, the more I’m surprised by Christ.
One way I’ve recently found Christ surprising is His compassion on outcasts of society. In Jesus’ day, the most dreaded of all diseases was leprosy. It was a terrible physically debilitating disease and incurable. Lepers were highly contagious and sent outside the cities to live out their days with other lepers. It was a miserable life, and wise Jews avoided lepers.
But Jesus surprised people by reaching out and even touching lepers. Jesus’ own disciples warned Him not to touch, but to their surprise, He touched them anyway. In Luke 5:12-13, a leper came to Jesus, fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out His hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” Jesus touched the leper, and instead of getting leprosy as the crowd expected, He healed this man’s leprosy.
Secondly, Jesus surprises me in His countercultural love for women and children. In Jesus’ day, children and women weren’t treated very well. Men had much higher social status. One time, Jesus surprised His disciples by letting children come to Him. The disciples assumed He didn’t have time for these little children and sent them away, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me” (Matthew 19:14).
Similarly, Jesus once had a conversation with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well in a Samaritan town. Jesus’ disciples returned and were surprised to find Him talking with a woman. Jesus showed He was willing to offend social norms of the day by caring for this woman’s needs. He wasn’t worried who the disciples expected Him to be. Jesus’ bold love for both women and children was clearly demonstrated through His life.
Lastly, Jesus surprises me in His bold determination to accomplish His mission. Did you know Jesus knew the type of death He would die? During their trip to Jerusalem, Jesus told His disciples while there, He’d be betrayed and turned over to the Gentiles to be mocked, flogged and crucified (Matthew 20:17-19). It’s terrifying to think of being crucified, but it is even more mind-boggling to think Jesus knew that was waiting for Him in Jerusalem and He went anyway. Anyone else would have run the opposite direction, but Jesus understood God’s plan was for Him to die for the sins of His people. Jesus died to accomplish the mission He’d had all along. He could have turned back, but He went to Jerusalem with bold determination to accomplish God’s plan.
I’ve been studying the life of Jesus for decades, but I’m still often surprised and amazed by things He did and said. I think my relationship with Him will always be that way. Just like making new friends, a relationship with Christ is full of surprises. I encourage you to press on to know Him more.