I have lately been much taken with the minimal characterization of Jesus in Acts 10.38
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Posted on: 1st April 2021
I have lately been much taken with the minimal characterization of Jesus in Acts 10.38: he was a man who ‘went around doing good’.
This phrase doesn’t try to explain the being of Jesus, as God-Man, for example. It doesn’t say he was good – he deflected that qualitative attribution, saying, Only God is good (Luke 18.19). He did good, he was more interested in doing the Father’s work in the world than in building his reputation. And he went about – there were always more people, always the next village, always something to be done. Jesus was a Martha of the kingdom of God, as well as a Mary. Where good needed to be done, there he would go, mostly on foot. Seeing Jerusalem in deep trouble, caring about its peace, he set his face like a flint to go there, even though others put the frighteners on (Luke 13.31-35). It was a very costly difficult good that had to be done there, but out in the open and within his small circles, he went on doing good, in various ways including dangerous conflict.
Left with nothing but words at the end, and hardly any breath, he was still doing good. Ponder his words from the Cross:
Praying for enemies: Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
Sharing hope: Today you will be with me in paradise.
Bringing people together to care when he couldn’t be doing it himself:
Woman, behold, thy son! Behold, thy mother!
Truthfully confronting the sense of ultimate futility of his do-gooding, where God seemed to be swallowed in deep darkness: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Jesus was not bothered by the philosopher’s fear that ‘You cannot be good in a bad world’ (http://bostonreview.net/forum/agnes-callard-philosophy-anger). He got on, like the woman he commended, doing the good he could (Mark 14.8). Jesus lived a restricted, incomplete life, but lived it to the full, uncomplaining, in hope of the coming kingdom of God. His final doing good was to witness to the loving Father, by running towards him: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. He left completeness to God.
He leaves us with the command and the example: Go and do likewise.
And he expected his disciples to go about doing good
Written by Haddon Willmer
News category: General