Thursday, March 31, 2016

They Got It All Wrong

My favorite mysteries are the ones that, when the detective explains what really happened, make you look at the whole story differently. There are just a handful like that: The Sixth Sense, The Conversation, The Usual Suspects, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and a few others. At the end of each, you immediately want to rewatch or reread the whole thing to see if there were clues you missed and to see if the solution makes sense.

The disciples saw that happen, not in a detective story but in real life. When Jesus was executed, they were, of course, despondent. Their hopes were dashed. His death on the cross showed that Jesus was not the Messiah.

Then he rose from the dead and appeared to them in solid flesh and they had to rethink what they thought God's plan was. They thought the Christ would be a holy warrior who would lead an army against the Romans, defeat and drive them out of the land and establish a physical kingdom of God. The present evil age would end and the Messianic age would begin.

When Jesus was crucified, they thought they had followed the wrong man. When the resurrected Christ came to them, he explained that they had the right man; they had gotten God's plan wrong. God never intended merely to save his people and to do so by subjecting the world to another war by another king. God wanted to save all people and the real enemy of that was our own evil: our arrogance, laziness, lust, greed, rage, envy and overindulgence, our self-destructive ways, our hatred of those different from us and our indifference to those who suffer. Jesus wasn't going to shed the blood of others to conquer them and forcibly make them subjects of his kingdom as other monarchs do. He let others shed his blood and made citizenship in his kingdom open to all who come to him. Jesus took the brunt of all the evil we have unleashed on God's creation, absorbed it and then through his Spirit transforms all who turn to him out of love and trust. And as God chose to work through the 12 tribes of Israel to prepare the world for his coming, Jesus chose 12 apostles to spread the good news of God's offer of forgiveness and new life to the whole world. Because ultimately he wants to reclaim all of what he created and pronounce it good once more.

In our reading from Luke 24 we are told, “Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures...” He recounted the story and pointed out the clues and suddenly it all made sense. God didn't want to get rid of his enemies by killing them all. That's what human beings do. God wants to get rid of his enemies by turning them into his friends. That's what Jesus did. And that's what he wants us to do as well.

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