Missional Jesus is self-oriented. I once referred to this as the justifiable egocentrism of Jesus. Some don’t like the expression; I do. Here’s why:
Read these words of the missional Jesus and you’ll come to the heart of Jesus’ missional work:
Matt. 11:28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Sometimes Jewish scholars feel the text of the Gospels in ways that Christians don’t. Take Jacob Neusner, one of history’s most prolific scholars. He reads this passage and says it cuts the Jewish community in half: those who find Jesus as the center of gravity and those who find the Torah as the center of gravity. Anyone who reads this text in context knows that Sabbath passages are coming next: Matthew 12:1-14. Sabbath is for rest. Jesus says, in fact, that he is the rest. Come to me and I will give you that sabbath rest. The Law is upended. (I refer here to J. Neusner, A Rabbi Talks with Jesus.)
1. Missional Jesus, first and foremost, calls people to find the rest of God, the rest God wants for his people, fulfilled in Jesus himself.
2. Missional Jesus is kind, loving, charitable, merciful, and those who are burdened by the Law and by life can find rest for their very soul in Jesus himself.
3. Missional Jesus knows that the kingdom is fundamentally relational — it is about forming one’s identity by journeying with Jesus.
4. The summons of missional Jesus is to be in Jesus’ presence, to learn from him, and to live one’s life with Jesus.
5. Jesus is humble — missional Jesus is humble.
6. Jesus is gentle — missional Jesus is gentle.
I have never come to final terms with this: “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Well, yes, we might say: it is about loving Jesus. And then that becomes incredibly powerful and penetrating and challenging. Maybe it is easy and light because, like Kierkegaard, he is speaking of “purity of heart as willing one thing.” No one finds the will of God as taught by Jesus to be easily accomplished. Maybe its utter clarity is its ease.