What follows is a tribute to my brother-in-law, Bob Kinser. Pictured here with his dad and me, Bob died tragically on Monday, September 9, 2019. It is also a tribute to Jesus. My hope in posting it here is that it will be a way to remember my friend Bob. My prayer is that these words might open up our eyes to the way Jesus sees us. Regardless of when you read, would you pause at the end and pray for my wife Jackie, who just had to bury her brother, and their father, Melvin, who has lost his only son? Thank you.
Jesus would have loved hanging out with Bob.
Maybe better said, Jesus loved hanging out with Bob.
Jesus loved to have fun, and no one had fun—that I know, anyway—like Bob Kinser. Jesus laughed a lot. He was fun to be around. And Jesus loved to be around people who were fun to be around.
One of the biographers of His life described it this way:
The Son of Man [that’s just a nickname for Jesus]… The Son of Man feasts and drinks and you say, “He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of…” let’s just say Jesus was a friend of the people that self-righteous people didn’t like.
Jesus loved hanging out with Bob.
How do I know Jesus was fun to be around? Because of the way he LOVED kids! Just like Bob. Have you ever known anyone who loved kids as much as Bob did?
You may have heard this story from one of Jesus’ first followers, a doctor named Luke:
Some people brought their little children for Jesus to bless. But when his disciples saw them doing this, they told the people to stop bothering him. So Jesus called the children over to him and said, “Let the children come to me! Don’t try to stop them. People who are like these children belong to God’s kingdom. You will never get into God’s kingdom unless you enter it like a child!”
You know another reason Jesus loved hanging out with Bob?
Because Bob LOVED animals. Oh, those dogs. From Butch when he was a kid to the, what was it—like 17 dogs living with him when he died? Bob loved dogs. Not justdogs, but especiallydogs.
I can imagine Jesus being out on the boat with Bob when he would take Pete, the Labrador Retriever who loved to swim, out on the river in Petersburg. The wind blowing in Jesus’ long hair and Bob’s… well, mostly bald head. And Bob loving his dog and Jesus thinking, “I remember when Dad and I thought up how much Labs would love water.” Imagine, Jesus watching Bob, made in the image of God, loving an animal made by the imagination of God.
But Jesus also loved hanging out with Bob because Bob HATED injustice. Some of you… okay, most of you could tell a story or two about when Bob would lose his ever-loving mind over some act of injustice. Someone didn’t get treated right at work, or in a restaurant, or anywhere… and Bob would be furious. Not at the person as much as the injustice. (Though sometimes it was hard to tell the difference.) Jesus is a fan of justice too.
In fact, one of my favorite Bible verses was written by one of Jesus’ original disciples. It says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice, and He will give you everything you need.”
One more. Jesus loved hanging out with Bob because Bob loved to help people. All people. Didn’t matter about skin color, income level, education, or age. He loved helping kids, teenagers, and adults of every age. Bob had the heart — the giant heart — of a servant. And Jesus is a fan of servants.
You may know this, but Jesus said of himself that even Hedidn’t come to be served but to serve. And to give His life as a ransom for many.
It’s that last line I want to finish up with.
Jesus came to give his life as a ransom for many.
You know... ransom. The money paid to set a prisoner free.
For anyone who feels like — or believes themself to be — a prisoner to guilt, shame, addiction, hopelessness, or anything else, I want to tell you some good news. Jesus died a criminal’s death so you could live a free person’s life. He gave His life as a ransom for your freedom.
Sure Jesus loved to hang out with Bob. We all did. But Jesus loved Bob more than that. He loved him so much that He came to earth as a helpless baby, grew up in the dusty streets of Palestine, wandered around the Middle East as a homeless preacher, and then was killed by religious leaders who couldn’t see that God was walking among them.
Friends, I would hate for you to miss what they missed. Jesus is here. He’s hanging out with us, too. He loves you, too. And if you’ve never thought about the idea that Jesus loves you and loves to be with you, maybe before you leave Bob’s story behind, it’s time to talk with someone.
As one of my favorite Bible teachers says, “Jesus makes life better, and He makes you better at life.” If you’re looking for a way to make life better and ways to be better at life, following the teachings of Jesus is the best way I know how.