The joke of Easter morning was God’s. The joke was on the authorities who conspired against Jesus. The joke was on the Romans; the mightiest empire couldn’t keep down a peasant from Galilee! The joke was on death itself, the ultimate divide and “last enemy,” as the Apostle Paul called it, that ultimate reality over which no one has control.
This is a God who is present in suffering, who suffers with us, who has tastes human experience. This is a God whose heart breaks at injustice. This is a God who chooses to be in solidarity with all who are scared, excluded, oppressed, hurting, and ashamed. We don’t look at the cross and see a bloodthirsty God who needs to be appeased, who relishes the pain of God’s child out of some perverted sense of justice; we behold a God of compassion, literally “with-suffering.”
We humans like to speculate about the future; it’s in our nature. You can see it in the disciples’ anxiousness when they say: “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?” But Jesus’ directed their gaze and directs ours to the present moment. “Look!” Christ urges us, “Look around you right now! Keep alert! Watch for the new thing I am doing. I am present in the midst of this tragedy and all of this mayhem. I know it’s hard to see, but keep your eyes peeled for how I am coaxing new life out of hopelessness.”
Are wealth and possessions, in and of themselves, evil? Are we to hear his words as a directive to the rest of us? Is Jesus calling all of us to asceticism, to severe self-denial, chucking all we own? Are we, like the man in this story, when faced with the choice of being inducted into God’s reign or keeping what’s within our grasp, walking away dejected?
Although most of us might not have had a mystical experience on a street corner, there are those other times. Kind of like epiphanies, but not quite. There are the times when a previously hopeless situation shines with refreshed possibility. When, out of absolutely nowhere, you have a spark of insight that arises in the midst of ordinary circumstances. Or a fleeting moment when the scales fall from your eyes and you see what is truly important in life…
[Jesus replies] The seeds are scattered in rocks, thorns, shallow dirt, and rich soil; they’re no respecters of ground. So it is with God’s kingdom– God’s radical love showers upon all without consideration for merit or response or inherent goodness. Yes, it’s true, that people respond differently to me, what I’m about, and the kind of world I’m trying to shape. There are powers that try to stamp out my kingdom at every turn, you know that. But that’s my concern. I am still going to sow wildly and indiscriminately.