It was the summer before my fifth-grade year, and I'd just gotten some really disturbing news. My teacher in the upcoming year was going to be Mrs. Rudolph. I had been warned about her. A kid one year older than me had said that Mrs. Rudolph was mean, that she screamed at the kids and made their lives miserable. So, it was with a palpable sense of dread that I entered fifth grade.
This past week, my mom called to tell me that Mrs. Rudolph's husband, Glen had succumbed to a very aggressive cancer. I emailed my former teacher to tell her I was praying for her, her son Brooks and his wife. She wrote back an email that spoke of her faith that God would sustain her through this time. You see, my friend was wrong. While I was blessed with many wonderful teachers in my formative years, Mrs. Rudolph stands out in my memory as my favorite. She was the first teacher to make me feel like an adult. She was very much in charge of the classroom, and did not stand for the typical 11-year-old attitude, but she was never mean. She never screamed at us. Every memory of that year for me is a good one.
Have you ever experienced something similar--finding out that the true person is far different from what others have said about him or her? If that's true of ordinary folks, how much more true is it of the greatest man who ever lived? 2000 years after His birth, death and resurrection, Jesus is still the most important person in history, and everyone from atheists to fundamentalists has an opinion on who He was and what He stood for. Yet even those of us who claim to be strictly biblical can often be guilty of seeing Jesus through the veil of our assumptions and prejudices. There is only one Jesus Christ. As we continue to focus on John 3:16, this Sunday we'll talk about God's only begotten.