He was poor and he was rich. He was loved and he was hated. He was a woodworker and a fisher, a realist and sought after ideals. He freed slaves and healed the sick. People called him crazy, they called him a liar. They said he was mad, that no one should listen to him. Yet people still came, and then everything changed.
He wasn’t born in a hospital or at home, he was born on the road with only his mother and father. His mother loved him and rejoiced at the sight of the stars that shone then for him. His father knew in his heart that this child would go on to do something great.
The heat was unbearable. His mother and father were leaving the city, ready to go home when she stopped short.
“Dear,” she began, a bit anxiously. Her husband turned to her, hoping whatever she had to say wasn’t that bad--it had already taken forever to get that far. “What?”
“Where is he?”
Her husband glanced in all directions, preparing to assure his wife that their son was right there, but upon seeing only the mass of people and no sign of the missing person, he huffed and tugged on his wife’s hand, leading her back to the center of their family. They asked for him, but no one had seen him. But they only told him that their son must still be in the city, if he wasn’t with them. His wife pursed her lips as she struggled to keep up with him, silently praying that they would find their son. What if he was lost? Hurt? Kidnapped? Everything would be ruined!
After a search of three days, upon nearing the local church, the parents halted for a moment to examine the scene. There was their son, on the front steps, sitting cross-legged and relaxed, talking with the pastors. What was he doing there? You couldn’t just talk to them! They were spiritually higher than ordinary people--supposedly. But just the same, the teachers spoke with their son, and they were amazed at the understanding of both the questions and the answers their son had posed. But this honor wasn’t so much to keep his mother from heating up just a bit.
She ran to him and demanded why he had treated her that way, forcing them to search and worry for him. But his only reply was, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know I had to be at my Father’s house?” His mother stood over him angrily, about to say something she knew she would regret, and not understanding the words of her son, when he hopped off the steps and walked to her husband, who looked only exhausted and extremely sweaty from the three day’s search in that desert-like heat.
As a child, he was a quick learner. A straight A’s student, he was known to have a most unusual relationship with his Father. They were inseparable. The history he learned and the time spent with his Father inspired him to work for him. He learned woodworking, yes, but he learned how to love and how to lead. That was how his name was spread. He was a diligent son, in every way perfect. He taught his mother everything she could hope to know at just the right time, he did the chores and homework without a single complaint. He wrestled with temptation, but found a way time and time again to conquer it. His faith in his Father never wavered, and it kept him strong.
He lived generously, giving food to the homeless on the side of the street, treating the sick he met (people knew him to be a doctor), and he invited the outcasts in. He knew that love always overcame fear, and that it would always conquer shame. He spoke life into those he met, and his friends followed him, moving from city to city across the country just to learn from him.
He told people of different, freer ways to live, like serving one another rather than coveting, like putting others constantly above themselves. He knew humility better than anyone, and was never hesitant to show it. He had a power no others possessed, power to make men see things they never would have dreamed of before. He showed them a place where there was no deceit, no trickery, no selfishness, no pride, where the citizens that lived there all supported each other and had a respect for the authority. He showed them how everything would change, and for the people who listened, it did.
He did as much travelling and preaching as was possible before the authorities arrested him. He did nothing to resist, as he knew it was his Father’s will. His closest friends and family watched as he was tortured in front of crowds for what he taught, and they watched as his blood spilled out from his hands and feet from the metal that held him against a tree. They watched as he was in aching and stinging, throbbing pain for hours before he was able to die. And hope, it seemed, for that perfect place he had spoken of, was gone. For who else could dream of something like that? Who could lead them into such a world?
For days, his friends stayed in their homes, hovering around the fireplace and the dinner table, unsure of whether to let themselves hope for a miracle. What could possibly happen? They had seen him die, and with him, all hope and possibility of the perfect peace and love they needed. Fear that the authorities would go after them kept them paralyzed, save to do one sentimental task.
A woman who had been an ardent listener and supporter of him crept out of the house one morning to pay her respects yet again, for what seemed the millionth time. But as she approached, she stood still with horror. The gravestone had been moved.
She didn’t wait a moment to sprint back to the house where more of his followers lived. She cried and pleaded with them to come, and so two men came. When they saw the gravestone, they walked away believing a miracle, that the impossible had happened. But the woman stayed, and tears began to stream down her face. Then peering into the tomb, she saw to figures dressed in white. They asked her why she was weeping, and startled, she answered truthfully in between sobs that they had taken her dearest friend’s body. Having told them this, she turned around and saw him standing there, though at first she didn’t recognize him. He asked her why she was crying, and who she was looking for.
“Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
Then softly he said her name.
“Rabboni!” She cried, which meant ‘teacher.’
And so she saw her Lord who was dead, alive again, and she went and told the closest of his followers. Later he met them and sent them to share everything he had taught them with all the nations and all the peoples, telling them that “He would be with them always, even to the end of the age.”
That is part of the story of Jesus of Nazareth, who died and rose again, who enables millions of people to now say, “And then everything changed.”