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In flippant phrases such as “there’s no free lunch” we acknowledge a deep truth about life. Everything has a cost. 

We could add that the more something is real and true, whether it be a kitchen utensil or a human life, the greater the cost is likely to be. That’s why love can be the costliest thing of all. Here is a bit of a mystery really. Those who have gained love at great cost tell us that it was worth it whatever the price may have been.

There are countless images of Jesus responding to human need. He  knew the small, ordinary - sometimes not so small or ordinary - stresses of family life. We know at least one occasion when he shows exasperation with his parents when they have every justification for being worried at his being out of touch with them in a crowded and dangerous Jerusalem. When he does finally leave home to offer himself to associate himself with his cousin John's social movement - a movement the Roman authorities kept a close eye on - there must have been major stress in the family. 

From that point on he is to know stress with a vengeance as he carefully begins building a following among the young men around the lake head, all the time keeping a low profile so as not to create any political suspicion in Roman circles; trying desperately - at times knowing immense frustration and often utterly failing - to get them to grasp the vision that he wants to involve them in. 

He feels the stresses that affect men and women who live public and high profile lives. As his reputation grows as a teacher and, even more significant, as a healer, everyone wants what we would call today a piece of him. As time goes on and his public profile increases he has to guard against fickle crowds. There will be two occasions on which he will barely escape with his life, one of these on a disastrous visit to his own Nazareth itself. There is always the possibility of the dangerous question planted by some agent in the crowd, forcing him to declare a position that will then incriminate him. Gradually it becomes more and more obvious that the realization of his social vision, the kingdom as he calls, will involve the ultimate sacrifice. 

When we see stained glass window images of Jesus with little lambs in his boyhood arms, or later in his adult life surrounded by smiling children, we need to realize that, while there may well have been such moments in our Lord’s life, as in any young person's life in a rural world, they bear little semblance to what has become for many the stereotypical image of the one who has become Lord in millions of peoples' lives. 

However a realistic awareness of how much his life among us speaks to our own human stresses can make him a source of lifelong grace for each one of us.


  • Jesus teaching in the temple vector illustration iStock-1457859281 Credit: Rudall 30