“First they ignore you,…” (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi)

A believer in pursuing truth without violence, Gandhi once said, First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. 

Think of Jesus’ life.  We know very little of His childhood, but what we do know is that He didn’t bring a lot  of attention to Himself.  If He had, then we would know of it.  Luke (2:41-51) tells the story of the young Jesus in the temple.  Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover.  When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom.  After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.  Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day.  Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends.  When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.  After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.  When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”  “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”   But they did not understand what he was saying to them.  Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.  But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.  And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

Imagine, while the scholars in the temple were amazed at His understanding and answers, His family didn’t even know He was missing.  And even upon returning to Jerusalem, it took them three days to find Him.

Look what happened when He became an adult and was beginning his ministry.  While He was saying these things to them, a synagogue official came and bowed down before Him, and said, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live.”  Jesus got up and began to follow him, and so did His disciples.  And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.”  But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well.  When Jesus came into the official’s house, and saw the flute-players and the crowd in noisy disorder,  He said, “Leave; for the girl has not died, but is asleep.” And they began laughing at Him.  But when the crowd had been sent out, He entered and took her by the hand, and the girl got up.  This news spread throughout all that land (Matthew 9:18-26).

He even had trouble earning respect in His adult hometown.  When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands?   “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?  Are not His sisters here with us?”  And they took offense at Him.   Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household (Mark 6:2-4).

Both Mark and Matthew tell the following story. The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and  saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were “unclean,” that is, unwashed.  (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders.  When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash.  And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles. )  So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with ‘unclean’ hands?” (Mark 7:1-5) While Jesus’ comeback closed the mouths of His critics, He continued to be attacked by the religious authorities until their final attack, which ended with His beating and crucifixion.

Ignored,… laughed at,… attacked,… then what?  “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying (Matthew 28:6).  I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades (Revelation 1:18).  To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God  (Acts 1:3).  He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything (Colossians 1:18)  And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.  (I Corinthians 15:14)  So without the Resurrection, our faith is useless.  With it, and with our faith in it, we are saved–from the world and for His glory.  With Him, we win!  Amen and Amen!

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