[Submitted to the ‘Riverine Herald’, Echuca-Moama]
About the middle of the first century AD in Israel, a rather enthusiastic cult figure got up the noses of the wrong people. Some of his few hundred followers hailed him as a prophet and teacher. Others went further, declaring him the promised ruler who would lead his people in triumph. That was a bit much for the occupying Roman authorities, who responded with a brutal execution.
His name was ….. Theudas. “Theudas?” you say, “Who the heck was Theudas!?” Exactly. Theudas is about as significant on the world stage as I will be 3 weeks after I drop of the perch, hopefully less painfully. Apart from a few rather nerdy history buffs, no one has heard of Theudas. Why? Simply because no more was heard about him after his death, and his followers found something else to talk about and returned to their day jobs.
Around 10 years earlier Jesus followed a similar path. Before he was even dead most of his closest followers had deserted him, his cause apparently dying with him. Just like Theudas. Yet this weekend in 2006 – yet again – millions of people worldwide mark the events surrounding his execution acclaiming it as the pivotal point in world history. His followers didn’t fade into oblivion. In fact they became bolder and more courageous than ever. They spoke of him everywhere, and still do. Every day more people choose to live for him; many even die for him.
Why? What made the difference? What makes Jesus attractive and current still? Lots of people have claimed to fix the world’s mess. All of them have died. Only one has returned to life. Only one can offer life with meaning today. Only one can promise life forever.