I’ve read that Jesus is the greatest contrarian in history. People see him going against the grain and doing the unexpected. On that basis, they argue for a more tolerant society or a theocratic state. But is that what he was about? I’m up for looking at things another way, so let’s put Jesus through a playbook for being a contrarian.
Learn the rules. Jesus grew in wisdom and favor with God and men because “they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2:46,47). Jesus knew exactly what the law required.
Follow the rules. The will of God wasn’t a theory for Jesus. He was a compelling Messiah because he subjected himself to the ultimate conclusion of everything God expected. “Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8).
Break the rules. When people still questioned his authority, he exceeded every limitation on life as we know it. “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days” (John 2:19). Jesus’ ministry, death, and resurrection were total departures from conventional wisdom. “After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken” (John 2:22). Jesus is someone you can believe in. That’s as contrarian as it gets.