What Did He Say

Once again, I’ll show my age. Back when I was in 9th or 10th grade, the band, Depeche Mode came out with a song called “Personal Jesus.” While it was on the pop charts and in the public eye, it got the attention of quite a few preachers. As I recall most of them didn’t have very kind words for it. The word I remember being used most was the word “blasphemous.” Something to the effect of, “How dare these rock and roll singers mock God?”

But I don’t really think they were mocking God. I don’t know enough about the personal beliefs of the songwriters or singers to say anything about them as individuals. But I don’t think “Personal Jesus” is a slam on God. Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

“Your own personal Jesus, someone to hear your prayers, someone who cares…feeling unknown and you’re all alone, flesh and bone by the telephone, lift up the receiver I’ll make you a believer.”

First of all, the song wasn’t really about Jesus Christ. The inspiration for the song came from something Priscilla Presley once said about Elvis and how she made him out to be more than human and, frankly, how she made something of an idol out of him

The point they were trying to make is that we’re often looking for someone to meet all of our needs, and take care of us and be there whenever we need them. Sometimes that’s a family member or a friend. Sometimes we do that to Jesus.

Actually, I think Mark (the writer whose Gospel we’re studying) would agree about that. He would go so far as to say that we don’t really have any business doing that with Jesus, either. That Jesus isn’t just here to make all of our problems go away. He’s not some personal valet who will see to our every whim.

It comes up more than once in Mark. The people are looking for Jesus to be one thing for them, but his mission is to be something else. We’ll see the first (but not the last) example in chapter 3 of Mark this morning. It happens when Jesus says something to a demon, something we would not expect Jesus to say.

If I understand the lyrics of the Depeche Mode song right, Jesus isn’t the problem, our perception of him is. We want him to be our little servant. He wants to be our Lord. I hope this morning we’ll have the courage and honesty to see Jesus as he is rather than as we want him to be.