The gospel was built on failure.
The good news started as very bad news.
It was never supposed to work. For a long time it looked like it never would.
It started with a young, pregnant, single girl in a backwater town too small to be mentioned in most ancient records.
She gave birth in a barn far away from home.
The most powerful man in the country tried to kill her baby.
Her people, the Jews, were ruled by an empire of such stunning strength and ferocity that a local governor could (and did) execute thousands on a whim.
- no idols
- no monuments
- no army
- no right to try their own capital cases
- no power
Just a book – which told them about a deliverer.
But even that hope was fading.
The Would-Be Revolutionary
Into this hopeless setting came yet another traveling preacher.
He spoke like a revolutionary. But he had no home and minimal, if any, formal education outside his local synagogue. Yet he astonished his listeners with his intellect and wisdom from a very early age.
He had the wrong kinds of friends from the wrong sorts of places, including the women he relied on for much of his financial support (Luke 8:1-3).
Not only did Jesus’ own religious establishment not support him, they openly despised and opposed him.
His most reliable followers were so unruly that he had to break up a fight almost every time he came into their presence, then scold them for lack of faith.
They were so poor they had no money to pay their taxes.
The disciples never understood what their leader was trying to do.
His own brothers didn’t believe in him.
Opposed and Abandoned
His enemies hated each other. But they hated Jesus so much more that they joined forces to kill him.
One of his closest followers sold him for a small bag of coins – silver, not even gold.
When he needed them the most, his friends fell asleep.
When they woke up, most of them ran for the hills.
One of the few who stayed nearby swore he’d never met him. Three times.
A Forsaken Failure – Until…
His trial was a farce, but his torture was real.
On the cross, he hung naked and bleeding. His flesh hung in strips from his barely-recognizable body.
As he died, Jesus didn’t just feel forsaken by God, he actually was forsaken by God.
Jesus’ life, ministry and message looked like a failure.
Until the resurrection.
That changed everything.
For you. For me. For everyone.
(If you want to re-use or reprint this for Good Friday or Easter, don’t worry about getting permission in time. Just use it, and may it bless you and your congregation.)
(Photo by Maja Ruszpel | Flickr)