The Borrowing Jesus
By: Amy Yeary Holmes
Independence. We live in a country that was founded on the pursuit of it. We exercise it with our hair color, music choice and wardrobe. Dreaming of the wind in our hair, we crave our own car racing on the blacktop because we long to feel free. And I love independence. I tasted it so sweet when I opened my first real paycheck. I was able to pay all my bills in full without dependence upon student loans or my parents. At 23, the world was my oyster.
Jesus values a different kind of independence. In Luke 5, he borrows a boat; in Luke 19, a donkey. In Luke 22 he borrows a room, and then in Luke 23 he is buried in a borrowed tomb. While that does not sound like the kind of independence that has the world on a string, Jesus had autonomy from earthly ownership and maintenance. Jesus had no dock fees, no boarding fees, no rent and no cemetery upkeep. Such ownership would have impeded the vagabond lifestyle needed to accomplish his task. Jesus becomes Jesus the Borrower. This humility is reflected in Philippians 2:5-11 (NRSV). In this ancient hymn, Jesus is described as “emptied out” when he became human. This humbling act of giving up Godhood for human form makes Jesus dependent upon God in a new way. One of those dependencies is borrowing. Now Jesus must receive loaned things (some he created!) to accomplish the mission.
But, before we throw away all of our material possessions, there is one more point. From whom did Jesus borrow these things?
While Jesus was independent of ownership, he was dependent upon God to provide through fallible humans; fallible humans that own things. The Bible is full of heroes that owned things. Abrahams had flocks, herds and tents, a sign of great wealth. In Acts 16, Lydia is a seller of purple dye, a very profitable trade. She is constantly providing Paul and Silas free reign of her home. The New Testament is full of missionaries and missions in need and generous people with things to share.
Could it be that those who borrow and those who own are the same sides of one coin? It sounds like Acts 2. In that chapter, the spirit of God dramatically comes over humans in a new, very personal way. The aftermath of that event can best be summed up by this quote: “All who believed were together and had all things in common…” (Acts 2:44 NRSV) In Luke’s church, those who were in need asked without shame and those who owned things looked for opportunities to share. Perhaps this divine dance of dependence/independence is what Luke had in mind when he wrote “all things in common”.
Discussion Question: How do you see yourself sharing in the divine dance of borrower and/or owner of things within the context of Christian community?
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