THE EXTRAORDINARY PRISONER


THE EXTRAORDINARY PRISONER

In all aspects of appearance he seemed to be unremarkable, a solitary testament to the indifference of nature: Yet his very presence drew crowds of similarly isolated individuals. It was as if he was the embodiment of hope. His words wafted across crowds of seekers touching lives in vast spectrum of dimension. For some his very presence stirred their anger and a desire for vengeance, while others found that his words touched their lives in some magnificent way. He was truly a man of the people, without peer. He dwelled among those most lost in the rush of the day.

From an aged widow to a hated tax collector, he had the ability to center in on the most intimate struggles of their lives. Today we often attempt to bridle those who become too open by telling them that it is simply too much information. Let’s keep this superficial, that way I do not really need to get to know you or understand the essential struggles of your life. We can keep this all very distant, that way perhaps I can avoid dealing with the intensity of your life or the demands of shared spirituality. We can do this all very informally.

To have His attention was the ultimate moment of respect and joy. To have Him rest His gaze upon your weary stopped shoulders was the essence of meaningfulness in drab unwanted lives. It was the essential validation of worth, yet there was some hated Him for freely extending this gift to others. There are those today who live within our communities whose lives lack any evidence of compassion. Rather their lives are seared with bitterness and vengeance; consumed with unreasonable fears and unbridled hatred for others. They are pools of polluted water seeing themselves as sparkling springs.

Like those who gathered to hear His healing words we all have the opportunity to reflect on the legacy which He bequeathed to us. We have His words and His spirit on a daily basis, but many somehow manage to fool themselves into believing that His message is dated and inapplicable to twenty first century life. Oh how myopic we have become in our world view when we fail to see that man only communicates and travels faster than before His walk on earth. Our essential personalities remain unchanged as we selfishly grasp at those things which we believe will complete our happiness.

He never sought out personal happiness but was filled with joy when He recognized the essentials of spiritual life in another. His days were filled with reaching out and blessing others, urging them to continue on the Kingdom pathway. His needs were few and often unmet, yet He had time to meet the needs of others. He was keenly aware of the issues of His day regarding the problems related to social justice issues, yet He encouraged us to keep our eyes on the goal. He claimed no victory for Himself, but offered all praise and glory to His Father.

He made no claim on anyone else’s time or resources. He simply invited others to reach out in faith and hope. Then He blessed them when they responded to His call. He held nothing precious except His service to do the will of His Father. In following this call of living service, He validated that we are all precious in His sight. He took joy in children and old people. He saw the reverence some held for His father and with sadness and tears He also gazed upon man’s rebellious and sinful nature across the spectrum of time. Yet we often live today as though He was just a kindly loving historical relic.

A modest man with a conscious love for His own family and the family of man, His manner was mild and soothing. Yet He had a capacity for righteous indignation when others abused His Father’s house and tried to isolate and abuse others in the name of the law. For Him the law was not a weapon to be used for beating others into submission, but rather a Godly provision for us to help us recognize our human limitations. He knew our frailty and the very struggles which each human must confront on their passage through life. Humble and faithful to the Father’s call upon His life, nevertheless He walked amongst us as a King and Savior.

He is the living affirmation that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. How could one man walk amongst us and have such an impact upon lives down through history? His gentleness and acceptance of others are the very hallmarks of His ministry. Yet it was these aspects of His word which eventually would lead Him to be condemned to a felon’s death upon a cruel cross in Jerusalem. His love for us assured His death.  He was hated for the promise of His Father’s love to all who accepted Him. Was there ever a greater legal travesty than His trial and crucifixion?  We come and go through this valley we call life yet He remains in our presence.

The time came when others could not abide His message of love and acceptance any longer. Consumed with hatred and bitterness they schemed to put an end to this Man and His ministry. They bided their time and waited for a moment when they could act without incurring the wrath of the crowds. They were cowards, like those of us who intimately know Him today and refuse to share His message with others. All the time He was keenly aware of the hardness in their hearts, but He chose to use His time and ministry to reflect the love of the Father. He put aside His own life for our lives.

The day finally came when the rage of the religious leaders ignited and gave way to developing a plan to eliminate Him from their presence. Better one man should die than the whole nation was the words of one of the leaders. Today we recognize that the words of Jesus Christ are both salt and light to troubled lives, but not just those struggling with the issues of life. Those words contained meaning for all of us, since they are words of life itself. Yet they are also inconvenient words which call all of us to a state of awareness about the gift of our lives and the responsibility we all shoulder.

Like modern day prisoners, He was accused of crimes and isolated. But in His case He never committed any offense against man or against His Father. He honored His mission and the love of His Father. As he sat in some cell below Pilate’s mansion I have often wondered about His thoughts, His hopes and His dreams. He knew what was coming and yet never defended Himself against the onslaught thrown upon Him by the religious leaders and His own people. What a magnificent Man, what a gracious God. Will we continue to abide in silence as we approach our own deaths, or can we muster the courage to tell others about Him…to face the abuse and rejection that will surely come upon all who stand up in His name? Will you join me today in standing up and proclaiming His promise joyously? Life is but a brief moment in time, we are here and then we are gone. Let’s pull together and lift up every fallen brother and sister, especially prisoners in His name.

 

 

 
 

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