Important people lead busy, important lives. They sky in to NYC from LAX and put together banking mega-deals in a few days. They get it done and then take a charter to MIA to celebrate. The deal is their signature. They leave their mark. They do more in a weekend than I do all year. That’s the way of the world.
Jesus was one of the important people, too. He skied into Jerusalem: got himself killed and resurrected all in the next seven days. It’s his signature deal. He left his mark and headed off to Paradise to celebrate. But wait: there’s a problem with looking at Jesus the same way we look at other important people. If his atoning death was his signature deal, why should we bother with the other 33 years of his life? Or the other 2,000 years of his resurrected life?
I think we’ve been tempted to reduce the ministry and message of our Lord to that one busy weekend in Jerusalem. And I get it: it’s understandable. The death and resurrection of Jesus changed history forever. His death was the biggest bailout in history. His blood paid the debt of all humanity and there’s still money in the bank. No one else could do what he did, and the cross is the sign of his love.
But didn’t the birth of Jesus change history as well? Wasn’t the game changed forever when an unknown man from Nazareth began with the announcement: “The time is right. God’s Kingdom is within your reach. Think new thoughts and re-imagine your life.”
Jesus did more than sky into Jerusalem and put together the mega-deal of eternity. We cannot fully lay hold of his work if we minimize the importance of the 33 years that led to the cross. The cross was unique in all of human history. But so was in Incarnation. And the good news of the Kingdom of God. And the example of his human life lived in complete concert with the Father’s heart. To ignore any of these other vital factors is to fall short of the glory of God revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Has our gratitude for one of his gracious gifts caused us to miss the other gifts he gave--and still offers? It’s a meditation worthy of this new week.