The number 1 (above) “lies outside” a group of similar numbers, and statistically stands out as an aberration in the set; it is an “outlier.” In this sense, it’s lonely. If it had emotions it would be asking, “why me?” “Why can’t I be like the others?” “Why doesn’t anyone like me?”
Humanly speaking, when you’ve had a good run, and almost everyone who had gathered around you, supporting you for several years, turns and abandons you… you really are an outlier. Regardless of their reasons, abandonment hurts, always has… always will. For those reading this blog who think I might be in some selfish, agonizing, self-destructive downward spiral, I’m not talking about myself. I’m talking about Jesus.
We tend to forget that Jesus was the original outlier. If God had wanted to save the animal kingdom He would have come to earth as an Elephant or Tiger or some other animal. But God created humans to have relationship with Him, and since we basically screwed it up, He had to fix it. So God became a human, yet not subject to Sin, since His father was the Father’s Holy Spirit. This indisputable fact is the baseline for believing Jesus was fully God, and fully human, while here on this earth. It’s an interesting and challenging thought.
All His life, childhood through adulthood, Jesus contended with emotions just like every other human. Yet in all the pains of these periods of life, He was perfectly aligned with Gods’ will, way, and purpose. I believe this was to demonstrate to the hosts of humanity, that when aligned this way, we too can be empowered (by the Holy Spirit) to deal with any emotionally upheaving circumstance that comes our way. Without Him, it’s virtually impossible.
Now, fast forward to the Passover and we understand just how different this ONE man was. He knew ahead of time that his closest friends, the disciples, were each and every one going to abandon Him. He told them so before it was ever true. Yet, He loved them anyway. He still went through with the plan of salvation. They traipsed along to that Garden in Gethsemane, one gospel says singing songs together. [Mark 14]
The four biographies of Jesus’ life tell differently the passover/garden/betrayal story. In John’s gospel we have a lengthy prayer from Jesus to the Father, which is not included in the other narratives. All four of these authors describe the betrayal and abandonment by the disciples. Jesus knew of which He spoke. And there He stood – the One. The outlier.
He stood alone before Caiaphas. He stood alone before Pilate. He stood alone before the Jewish people in the courtyard of Fort Antonia. He stood alone while the soldiers mocked Him. He stood alone as they scourged Him. He was alone – the One – the outlier.
On the cross, He was the One of three who could effect change in the world. Still the outlier. One man knew he deserved to die the death He faced, and asked Jesus for mercy. The other was in denial, so he mocked the One as delusional. In a set of three, crucified for crimes against the state, Jesus was the outlier.
Why would He do it? Why knowingly put yourself through this enormously painful existence? God, the Son, did this to prove once and for all the extravagant lengths to which He will go, to establish right relationship with His highest creation – humans. It was modeled for us 2,000+ years ago, and still there are those who laugh at the cross with derision. Like the other man hanging next to Jesus that day, they say to all who believe in the One, “You guys are nuts!”
One day, either soon or far away (I do not know), this same One – this outlier – will return to planet earth to establish a kingdom that will never pass away. In theological terms we call this the “consummation” of human history. The last book of the Bible speaks to the events that happen during this time. But here’s the thing. Revelation tells the story of Jesus. Revelation helps us see that the same kind of self-sacrificing motive that lead Jesus to the cross, is demonstrated by God in the extravagant lengths to which the Father will go, to save all those at the end of time – who will believe in the Outlier – Jesus as their savior.
The whole book, the Bible, points to Jesus. His earthly existence was a lonely One. He did it all to have a family, so we could all be ONE. Praise to the Outlier. He is our only hope and salvation!
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