A journey to the cross is a journey to repentance. It’s a journey to deep personal change. Will you take this journey with me?
In today’s reading, Marcus, the centurion, rides back into Jerusalem on horseback. As he rides his mind turns over his thoughts about Jesus of Nazareth. Date: Near noon on Thursday, April 6th, 30 A.D.
We continued on to the fortress, but my mind was on the Northern Messiah. His penetrating eyes haunted my thoughts. There was a power there that I had no ability to fathom. I was reminded of Ruth’s words. Ruth was one of our household servants, a Jewish girl. When at the supper table I had told Zelda about Jesus and his miraculous powers, Ruth’s eyes brightened. I asked her if she knew anything about this man.
“Oh, yes,” she’d said. “Almost a year ago he healed a blind beggar from the Lower City. Jesus made some mud, put it on the beggar’s eyes, and sent him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. When he washed, he could see. It was a miracle. I’ve seen this man myself. I know it’s true,” she earnestly avowed.
When I’d asked her about this power Jesus had and where it came from, she bowed her head and answered, “From God.”
But she seemed somehow uncomfortable with her answer. She added, “It must be from God. He does good things. But our leaders aren’t sure. They think it may be demon power. But demons don’t heal the sick.”
Maybe the religious leaders were right. Maybe it was demonic power that made the blind see. It seemed preposterous. But why had I heard this voice? Why did this man trouble me so? Thinking of him seemed to stir up nothing but torment within me, and I didn’t even know why. I felt strangely attracted to him, yet at the same time repelled.
Then there was this talk about the kingdom of God. Maybe Timaeus was right about this prophet. The words of the wealthy merchant came back to me: “You don’t talk about a kingdom in this place and get away with it. Rome will see to that!”
Maybe we would see to it. Maybe we should see to it soon. But Jesus’s enemies were the same pompous, self-serving leaders I despised. He had aligned himself with the common man, with the poor, the oppressed, the sick and suffering. And he didn’t just champion their cause for personal benefit like some crass politician lobbying for the emperor’s favor. No, he healed them. He fed them. He walked with them, ate with them. He was one of them. He was their king, whether he wore a crown or not. I saw that clearly when he entered on the donkey. He was the donkey king. A horse would have put him above the crowd. A horse would have meant elevating himself like all the other egotistical men who led in this upside-down world.
In his case others would have to do the elevating.
The meaning of his entry on Sunday came clear to me now. It was a perspective gained from my comfortable perch on the back of my own noble steed.
By the time I reached the fortress for the second time in the week, I resolved to shut this Messiah out of my mind. He didn’t fit any of my categories for human behavior or religious thought. He was beyond understanding, an unwelcome intruder into my city and my thought life.
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