Saturday, November 20, 2010

Jesus was a Wino...Like Me

A few weeks ago, in the midst of some heated discussion in the OR, my assistant made an interesting, perhaps profound comment. I don’t remember the topic, but the conversation must have wandered into religion and somehow the person of Jesus came up. Sometimes we actually have deep and profound discussions while slaving over hot gallbladders; this must have been one of those times. Anyway, as the conversation heated up, she blurted out:

“Jesus was a wino…like me”.

It sounded funny at the time, and I don’t think anyone in the room really believed it. First of all, although my assistant enjoys a fine glass of Chardonnay on a regular basis, in moderate amounts only (except on the rare occasion when she is celebrating something, when she allows herself a bit more), she does not fit the definition of a wino. There are various definitions of “wino”, but an amalgamation of them all would probably be: “an indigent person, usually homeless, who drinks alcoholic beverages, usually to excess”.

But what she said in the heat of discussion actually contains a great deal of theology and, if examined closely, one can find the gospel. So, let’s deconstruct this simple phrase and uncover its truth.

Jesus refers to Jesus Christ, the remarkable figure on whom the various Christian religions are built. Over two thousand years ago he was an itinerant rabbi hiking around ancient Palestine, trailed by twelve disciples, whose purpose was to deliver the “good news”, a message of God’s love, hope and salvation for all His people; the Gospel. During his three year mission He had no home and it is well documented that he drank wine, although never to excess. He performed many miracles; the first was changing of water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana. But, whereas his disciples may have become drunk on at least one occasion, (they seemed to have a hard time staying awake at Jesus greatest time of need in the Garden of Gethsemane), Jesus never drank inappropriately. Drunkenness would be considered a sin and he lived a perfect, obedient, sinless life, which uniquely qualified him as the perfect sacrifice to satisfy God’s wrath and to take our sins upon himself at the Cross.

So, he does not meet all parts of the definition of wino. Homeless, yes, indigent, yes, drank wine, yes, excessively, no. But, what about the Gospel? At the Cross, the sins of the world were heaped upon Him and by this act of love we are saved. When the believer stands before God for judgment,
God will see the righteousness of Jesus instead of a wretched sinner. This is the heart of the Gospel. At the Cross Jesus takes all the sins of the world upon himself and we, the sinful winos, are cleansed. Jesus becomes the wino in our place.

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” -2 Corinthians 5:21

In this sense one could say that it’s true; Jesus was a wino. Perhaps it’s better said, “Jesus became a wino…for me”.

But, what about “…like me”. Can anyone say that Jesus is “like me”? Jesus left heaven; separating from all his glory, and became human, assuming all the frailties and weaknesses of humanity. He suffered all the temptations that we suffer and more. He was offered bread when he was starving, but rejected it, preferring God’s word. He was offered all the world, but chose the promise of God and Heaven and, finally, He refused to put God to the test, holding on to His faith and rejecting Satan. These temptations make Jesus “like me”, except he succeeded where we all fail miserably.

“Jesus was a me”. The Gospel shouts from these words and, as a result, hope and truth are offered to all of us.