When I was a kid, every evening after the news I watched a show called To Tell the Truth. The show featured a panel of four celebrities attempting to correctly identify a described contestant who has an unusual occupation or experience. This central character is accompanied by two imposters who pretend to be the real character. The celebrity panelists question the three contestants. The imposters are allowed to lie but the central character is sworn “to tell the truth.” After questioning, the panel attempts to identify which of the three challengers is telling the truth and is thus the central character. The host would then say, “Will the real _____ please stand up!”
The four panelists would often miss the real person, mainly because they had certain expectations of what the real person’s occupation or experience would be like. And their expectations just didn’t match reality. The people of Christ’s day often missed who Jesus really was because their expectations chiefly centered in a Messiah who would beat up the pagan Romans and establish a strong political kingdom that benefited them economically. And that is why they missed the real deal because Jesus did not fit their preconceived notions of Messiah. The real Jesus is compassionate, cares about people, and brings transformation to people’s lives, irrespective of whether it can turn a buck for somebody.
The real Jesus puts people before pigs. That might sound like a no-brainer, but, believe me, in Iowa I knew of more than one farmer who treated his pigs better than his family. Jesus continually put people first before anything else. He delivered two men from a terrible demonic bondage with the result that an entire herd of pigs was lost. However, the town didn’t rejoice over the transformation of the men. They just begged Jesus to go away before he messed up their economy even more.
Jesus did not come to boost the local economy and make sure the political system was all warm and fuzzy toward the local merchants. He changed people’s lives brought deliverance from emptiness. The irony in the story is that the farmers and farming community had their hearts revealed as the ones who were truly empty. Will the real empty hearted people please stand up! What do you expect from Jesus?
Jesus, you are the rightful King of this universe. May I participate with you in your agenda for this world so that I might exhibit the same care, compassion, and concern for people that you did. Amen.