Sometimes, what we get is not what we expected, as in the story told by Cheryl Cornish, Sr Pastor of First Congregational Church in Memphis, TN. “My Grandfather, a homesteader in Western Nebraska, loved to share stories of the people who settled in the Sandhills in the late Nineteenth century. One of his favorite stories involved a wedding dance at Broken Bow, where one of the musicians played a trick on the wedding guests. Customarily, whole families came to the dances. They usually arrived early in the day and didn’t return until the early hours of the following morning. When evening came, parents bedded their babies and younger children in separate corners of a room.
At the Broken Bow wedding dance, the fiddle player took a break while the other musicians played on. During that break he sneaked into the room where the babies were sleeping, and switched their caps, coats and blankets. When the long night’s celebration ended, the parents scurried to get their children out of the dark room and into the wagons. Sighting the familiar hats and coats, they grabbed their babies and headed out to the wagons for the trip home.
According to Broken Bow’s Callaway Courier, chaos reigned at the telephone office the next morning. The switchboard operator was besieged with phone calls from frantic parents who discovered, by the light of day, that they had grabbed the wrong babies.”
This story reminds me of the way God, in a sense, “switched babies” on the Jewish people. They had expected one kind of Messiah – someone regal, powerful, one who could get things done, a Messiah who could rally the troops, drive out the enemy and set up the kingdom. Instead, they got a baby who went to the cross – a baby whose greatest weapons, when he became a man, were love and forgiveness.
Years later, at Corinth, Paul dealt with people who wanted “another Jesus.” He said, rather sarcastically, in 2 Corinthians 11:45, “If someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough.”
So-called “super-apostles” were proclaiming a “super-Christ.” In modern sports lingo, they promoted a macho, powerful, trash-talking, linebacker sort who could knock down every opponent. What they got was a Messiah who said, “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45). Likewise, he challenged those who heard him, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” (Mk 8:34).
Would you like to meet this Christ? Come to the table.