Saturday, April 07, 2007

Business as Usual?

It was the day after the evening Passover celebration. That day before was ugly enough. Three men had been executed for their crimes. Roman executions are always ugly. But these men deserved it. Two were common thugs; good riddance to such scum! One was sentenced and executed for being "King of the Jews." For those Pharisees and Sadducees who so longed for Jesus' death, this title was a slap in the face. Even in his death Jesus defied them, the established authorities of the Jews.

But they were rid of the pest now. He is in the renegade Joseph's tomb. Yes, renegade. Joseph has jumped ships. He has declared himself to be a follower of this would-be Messiah.

For the tens of thousands who live in Jerusalem and the surrounding area, now it's business as usual. There is a big mess to clean up. Scraps from the Passover preparation need to be thrown out. Scores of carcasses have to be disposed of. Gehenna will burn hot for several days with all this garbage.

The leaders of the Sanhedrin sigh with guarded relief. Pilate has believed them and has placed a sizeable guard over the tomb of Jesus. They believe that if they make it one more day, then life will go on; it will be business as usual. Their great concern now is to repair the temple curtain, ripped from top to bottom. They think it was an earthquake that did it. There was an earthquake. If they had had eyes to see spiritual things, perhaps they would have seen the hands of God shaking the earth. Perhaps they would have seen angels of God grabbing that curtain on each side, and tearing it in two. But they did not; they could not see it. They are spiritually blind. For them, the business is cleaning up the ugly mess this man Jesus created.

Hidden away, out of sight of the rest of the world, are many frightened, confused disciples. Nothing has worked out like they thought it would. Their minds are riddled with questions. Where was God when Jesus was arrested? Where was God when Jesus was tried? Where was he when they nailed him to the cross? Didn't even Jesus cry out and ask why God had forsaken him? Where was he? Why didn't he stop this? Why did he let this happen to begin with? How can he be quiet while these miserable excuses for men go on, business as usual? Now nothing will be the same. Rumor has it that even Peter has gone back. Someone said he even denied Jesus.

In another realm, in another place, it is anything but business as usual. This Jesus is disturbing the established order. He is standing tall and strong. He is not bound! He is preaching to the entire realm of the dead. Those who walked by faith listen with joy. Those who walked in unrighteousness cringe in fear. Demons huddle, cowering. The one they conquered has actually conquered them. It can never be business as usual here ever again. Jesus has snatched up the keys of death. He has raised them high and, with a lion-like roar, declares victory over death's dark domain. It won't be long before Jesus is raised from the dead and demonstrates to his grieving friends and followers that God's plan was a perfect one. Now they can be freed from the chains that bind them. They can be empowered to follow Jesus like they said they wanted to.

Here we are, some 2,000 years later. We are watching the world around us. For too many, it is business as usual. They have never even been allowed to hear the name of Jesus. They are completely ignorant of who Jesus is, much less what he did for them. Life goes on. It is business as usual.

Others know something of this Jesus. They will even appear in some religious festival. Then they will disappear into their business. As usual. It won't even make a difference for them, other than perhaps appeasing their consciences for one more year.

What about us? What will this weekend mean for us? Will it be business as usual? Or will it become an opportunity to snatch someone from the kingdom of darkness? Or perhaps a time of intimate communion, sitting at the feet of our Master Jesus, just as Mary once did? Whatever it is, don't let it be business as usual.

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