Our authors and artists provided us with windows into scriptures representing Jesus’s own “closing statement” before the events leading to his execution. Like in many other instances throughout the gospel, his teachings focus on the reality of the kingdom of God. However, differently from much of what we find elsewhere, here they zero in on the consummation of that kingdom, the end of this age, the fulfillment of God’s purposes.
Just hours prior to his arrest, Jesus told these vivid stories to reassure his disciples that there is something more lasting than the carelessness of some of the brides, the timidity of most investors, and the oblivion of the nations. The God of whom Jesus spoke and of whom he ultimately embodies is relentless. Not even the deafening hatred and brutality that was about to be unleashed over Jesus would be capable of permanently silencing God’s resounding Word. Dr. Martin Luther King expressed that conviction very vividly in one of his sermons when he said:
"Evil may so shape events that Caesar will occupy a palace and Christ a cross but that same Christ will rise up and split history into A.D. and B.C., so that even the life of Caesar must be dated by his name. Yes, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’”
Even as events much beyond our control take place, Jesus continues to walk among the persistence of children who hunger, the determination of foreign women, the fortitude of the imprisoned man, and the fierceness of the ailing elderly. He still confounds us by declaring “blessed” those that hunger and thirst, those that yearn for justice, and the ones that suffer persecution because of him. It is by sharing our lives with people that experience rejection that we often are taken aback by welcoming embraces. Taking up the shame of the cross, we surprisingly begin to see ourselves as blessed. It is amid tears we often discover what joy can be.
As an anticipated groom that suddenly arrives, an investor that expects much of his servants, and a wise shepherd that will not be fooled, our King makes his people share in glorious hope, one that goes far beyond what we can only begin to grasp. Thank you for joining us in making this Lent one that draws us nearer to that blessed day. Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again!