Once, there was this guy. Stop if you’ve heard this one before. No, wait, keep reading. It’s important.
There was this guy, once, who changed everything, even though he was not understood by those around him, who frightened the livin’ daylights out of the power elite and who showed in the end (or in the beginning) that power, as the world defines it, means absolutely nothing.
He was born into a very poor family, working people, certainly not a family of much standing within society. We don’t know much about this guy at all until he becomes a man. Some folks suspect he traveled widely as a very young man, perhaps even traveling to the Far East to study with Buddhist scholars. All that is mere speculation, of course.
What we do know is this guy was very charismatic and attracted quite a few friends and followers, people who put great stock in how he lived and what he said. In one of the first stories we hear of him, the guy actually changed water into wine at a wedding. He didn’t want to do it. Too obvious. His mother made him. But, as you can imagine, that caused quite a stir.
He went on, so the stories are told, to do other amazing things, like making blind people see and making lame people walk. Not your ordinary stuff.
But, it wasn’t so much his actions that attracted the most people and attention. It was his words.
He lived in a time when folks had little hope. Most were poor, like he was, and society was ruled by a very rich elite who made all the rules and worked hand-in-hand with an oppressive government. But, in spite of the gloom and despair, this guy kept telling folks they should meet that oppression with love. He told them oppression was really weakness. It’s a pretty radical thought.
He told them not to worry if they were poor or despondent. He said God loved them the most.
He said all sadness would be comforted. He said power and arrogance can’t win. He said humility would trump arrogance every time.
He told them the hungry would be fed, the thirsty would drink. Most of all, he said it is important to be merciful–especially to those who were the exploiters, to the power-hungry.
He said we should be peacemakers. He told the people they should love their enemies, that love can conquer all hate.
To prove it, he went out and gathered around him some of the most despised people of his day. He made friends of anyone considered an outcast or inferior by the ruling elite–on purpose.
He told the people to do whatever they could for the most despised among them, because they are God’s favorites.
Like I said, this was pretty darn radical stuff, and his words and teachings began to attract the attention of not only his growing cast of followers, but also of the powerful and the ruling class.
His followers wanted him to lead them to revolution. The powerful were afraid he might do just that. He had no interest, of course, in being a head of state. That was too easy, too confining.
But, the powerful didn’t know that. Fearing the worst and scared to death, they arrested this guy and killed him. It was a political act, pure and simple. This guy threatened the established order–not in the way the establishment thought–but threatened it, just the same.
You might think that would be the end of the story, but it’s not. You see, this guy didn’t let mere physical death stop him. Nope, he walked right out of that grave–and that’s when everything changed. Fear and hate don’t win. That’s where he changed everything!
Funny thing is, even after 2,000 years or so, this guy still threatens the established order and love still overcomes death and humility still conquers any ruling elite and hope still reigns supremely powerful.
And, that’s what Easter is all about.