[The following is an expanded version of a devotional I wrote for a friend’s ministry newsletter]
“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” (Heb 2:10)
In 1999, the blockbuster film, The Matrix sparked the imaginations of millions of people worldwide. It was the story of a world that was not all it seemed, in which something was very wrong, but in which would arise a person known as, The One, who would deliver the captives from bondage, and usher in peace and justice. The story, the conflict and all major events in the story centered around The One, and the world itself would ultimately bend to his will. While it made for interesting science fiction, the fact is, that there is The One in the real world who is far greater than what even the best storycrafters can conceive. The real One of course, is Jesus Christ. He is the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the First and the Last, and the rightful Firstborn and King of all creation. He is the focal point of history, Perfection itself become human flesh, and the theme and hope of which all the Law and Prophets in the Old Testament foretold.
The world was made by Him, the world was made for Him, but the world did not know Him, for it fell into sin. And so the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). He was the One, the Messiah, the person who delivers all from captivity and darkness.
Most all of the great or influential world leaders throughout history were either born into or achieved wealth and/or prominence in their societies. Moses was raised a prince and became leader of a nation. Muhammad was a tribal leader and successful conqueror. Guatama Buddha was a prince before seeking the path of enlightenment. Confucius rose to be a governor and prominent state minister. Joan d’Arc rose from peasantry to military leader. Jesus was a man of no prominence in His earthly life. He was born a peasant, lived a poor, traveling teacher, and died as would a convicted capital offender. There was no government fighting for the scraps of power He’d consolidated, no rich or influential patrons promoting His teachings. All that was left was a few scared fishermen and women, most as poor and obscure as He was. History remembers the great men, it barely even remembers their aides. The workmen, the peasants, the poor and meek all fade into obscurity. Surely this peasant was no different. But this peasant didn’t stay dead. In a twist so powerful that even profane Hollywood can’t resist imitating it, He rose on the third day, and by His appearance and the power of the Holy Spirit, those poor fishermen boldly preached the gospel everywhere they went!
He could have come as a super-man, the pinnacle of charm and wit, yet Isaiah 53:2 declares, “…He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him.” He could have come in majesty and glory that none could deny, but instead He came in poverty and disgrace, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9) With but a word He could have called legions of angels to bring the world to its knees and subjugate all to His will. Instead He chose the shame and death of the cross. Yet He rose from a death in obscurity to life everlasting, and to being the most influential person the world has ever known. His disciples went from catching fish to laying the foundation for a greater, heavenly kingdom, knowing that their risen Master is with us always.
He is eternal, He is unchanging. All the wars, triumphs, empires, monuments, and the great men they honor will fade into the mists of time, till their names are little more than foreign syllables uttered by grudging schoolchildren. But Christ is eternal, He is forever exalted, and of His kingdom there will be no end. Near the end of his life, former Emperor of France Napoleon Bonaparte wrote,
“Alexander, Cæsar, Charlemagne and myself founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon sheer force. Jesus Christ alone founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men will die for Him. In every other existence but that of Christ how many imperfections!”
While fiction can be fun, the true One is no work of a writer’s imagination, He’s here among us now. To a friend in doubt, Jesus let His actions speak, “…the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.” (Luke 7:22b), proclaiming to the ends of the world that we need wait for no other: He is the One.