Existential Jesus

Faith & Inspiration

I was coming up the front steps to my house and was hungry, so I decided to thank God for my breakfast while taking off my boots, to save time so that I could just plunge into the granola without ceremony. Then I thought of Jesus, and how he always thanked God for his food just before he ate it, while the bowl was sitting in front of him. For some reason the idea came to me as a mild rebuke.

Image the scene: Jesus, the one by Whom all things were made (John 1:3), thanking the Father for something that He made! Talk about emptying yourself of privilege (Philippians 2).

The very fact that Jesus would always stop to pray before a meal is an interesting peek into His piety. The detail is enough to show me that His was an ongoing conversation with the Father. His life was but a fabric of prayer interrupted at irregular intervals for healings and dialogue and sleep.

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I cannot imagine Jesus praying for breakfast while removing His sandals, just in order to get prayer out of the way, as I was thinking of doing. Give that habit its head, and you will soon be making prayer into a program, as we tend to do with every other religious notion.

There is nothing wrong, in itself, with praying over your breakfast while unzipping your boots. But I would imagine that the man Jesus was too much "in the moment" to do something like that. While He was unlacing his sandals He was probably thinking, and praying, about something having to do with sandals-maybe a recollection of the prophecy that He would bruise Satan's head, and Satan would bruise His heel (Genesis 3:15); or an ancient verse about heaven as God's throne and earth as his footstool (Isaiah 66:1); or maybe hatching a plan to wash the apostles' feet at the upcoming Passover feast (John 13).

In college we read Camus and Sartre and the Existentialists. But they were pikers compared to Jesus. None of them was consistent; all cheaters at the end of the day. Jesus was the true Existentialist, never knowing what He would eat or where He would sleep, but always knowing these would be provided. And how did He know? Because He had divine privilege from God? No, because of God's promise to any man: "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). That's why he was able to teach that principle to others-because He had tested it and found it true. Rightly does John say in Revelation that Jesus is the "faithful witness" (1:5).

What a fascinating life it must be, the life of a true existentialist. Someone who is so in the moment with the Father-listening for this moment's word, leaning upon this moment's grace, attending to this moment's temptation or need. When a bowl of oil-dipped bread appears before Him, He is so taken with wonder that He closes his eyes and folds His hands and thanks His Father, like a delighted child.

To hear commentaries by Andrée Seu, click here.

Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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