Monday, March 18, 2013

One Man

Though you weren't there, no doubt by now you've heard about it.  The fanfare, the celebration, the  masses.  People gathered from all walks of life, all backgrounds.  All of them congregating to usher in hope, to celebrate God's man, his chosen.  Men, women, children - all excitedly brandishing token symbols of devotion and praises of honour.  A parade was formed and fervor rose in anticipation of the arrival of this single man, of his appearance and revelation. 

Born of lowly status he had made a name for himself as a benefactor to the poor, ministering to masses, even circulating regularly with them and surrounding himself with them - something, unfortunately, that was uncommon for those in his position and culture.  He refused the wealth of coffers and of comfortable homes, choosing rather to live simply, more as a hermit in lowly abodes to place himself more closely with those he regularly ministered to.  Rather than sequestering himself with the learned or the scholarly, he often traveled in open public and was often readily accessible to those who sought him.  And now, finally, with the full support of those masses and many from abroad, this man was elevated in status and adulation.  The exuberance was intoxicating to those in the throng.  Countless numbers were caught up in the celebration.

A week later those same masses called for his death as he stood before them, torn and beaten beyond recognition.  For this man was not an elected church official or some representative of ordination.  This man was the son of a simple tradesman from a small country town far to the north. This man had defied religious convention, ignoring social protocols making many uncomfortable with his willingness to engage even those of inferior lineage or of Godless races.  Regularly he had made a mockery of the  rigid ordinations of men and the strictly held observances that immobilized his culture.   Where condemnation for violation was prescribed, his message was unabashed love.  Where penitence and payment were preached, debated, and even haggled over, his actions demonstrated unconditional mercy and forgiveness.  Where bloodshed was demanded, his way was reconciliation. 

Often those who upheld the doctrines and tenants of God's word openly argued with him, and he frustrated them every time.  Consider debating the word of God with the one who was the living Word (John 1:1-14).  He restored worth to the prostitute, introduced the color spectrum to the blind man, gave legs for running to the lame, purged a host of demons from a boy and cast them into livestock.  He gave thanks over a child's small lunch of bread and fish until it fed thousands.  He called a friend back from death and even heard the cries of several men whose flesh was being eaten away by the rotting disease of leprosy - stopping the progression dead in its tracks, restoring limbs. 

This one man drew the masses in adulation and praise.  This one man was favored and honoured.  This one man spent the entirety of his ministry giving himself to others and innumerable multitudes were affected.  Crowds gathered when he entered a region.  This man was known throughout his culture.  Word of his comings and goings were heralded from community to community.  This one man gathered large throngs of followers as many assembled to hear his words and witness his works. 

Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,
“Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in highest heaven!”
The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked.
And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Matthew 21:8-11 NLT

This one man was killed by many of those same masses, in a sham trial, put on by the religious conservatives of his day, enforced by an occupying government.

In watching the events of the past week and the religious fervor that has swept the planet, I am thankful for the attention that is being paid to faith, and spiritual issues.  Watching flags from multiple nations waving in crowds numbering tens of thousands all unified under the banner of Christ is a spectacle that is awe inspiring.  But in the viewing, I am reminded that one day, all nations, all flags will gather and be cast at the feet of one man.  Not the man who was just named head of a church, but the man who walked this sphere healing the sick, enraging demons, reclaiming the dead, and lifting the scorned from the dust.  A man who was cruelly executed on a device of Roman torture designed for the depraved of society, entering the viciousness of hell, conquering once for all.  This one man rose again, overcoming death and securing my salvation and eternity with him. 

I will celebrate this one man.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,  and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Revelation 7:8-10 ESV

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